Gloria Magazine - May 2007
Buddhism brought me peace
An American singer who sang at a charity ball in London yesterday where a ticket cost 30.000 pounds lets us know why she is still wearing mini skirts although she is 67 and how she spends her days decorating her three homes – in Switzerland, France and England.
When the first sound of Whatever You Need was heard and Tina Turner appeared on stage last Friday, May 18, 500 guests in the grand hall of London’s Natural History Museum gave her an enthusiastic applause. The ladies in evening dresses and the gentlemen in tuxedos paid as much as 30.000 pounds for a ticket to enjoy the performance of 67-year-old rock’n’roll granny and eight-time Grammy award winner. Caudwell Children’s Ball collected money to help sick British children.
Although she did her last tour seven years ago, she no longer records new albums and just occasionally performs at private concerts. Going into retirement did not make her slow down. She is full of life, energy, and she dresses youthfully and so she changed twice during this 50-minute performance; she wore 2 Channel creations: leather pants with a top and a skirt with a jacket. The performance of every song (The Best, Private Dancer, Proud Mary and Stay Together) was accompanied by her electrifying dance, which caused such excitement that some of the guests started dancing on chairs. Among the guests at the charity ball, which started with an auction of various valuables (a Ferrari could be bought for 350.000 pounds, a diamond necklace for 125.000 pounds and a 7-day vacation in Africa for 90.000 pounds), there were Chris Tarrant, a British host of Who Wants to be a Millionaire, David Gest, American TV producer and ex-husband of Liza Minnelli as well as members of the pop group Boyzone.
The Flintstones party
There were 10 tables for 10 in the hall where Tina Turner performed with her five supporting vocals and dancers who among them was also 35 year-old Ivona Brnelic from Rijeka (Croatia). There were dinosaur skeletons floating above the tables. Because of the exhibits from the museum which could not be moved, they decided to decorate the hall Flintstones style. The tablecloths were tiger stripped, the hostesses wore stone age style dresses and the guests raised bones instead of plates at the auction.
‘I have to take care of my bones’ Tina made a joke when we asked her what is the secret of her good looks. ‘I am blessed. I never had weight problems. I am careful about what I eat and I have a good metabolism. I live according to the principles of Buddhism and I meditate every day, which helped me to find my inner peace,’ she said. ‘And most importantly, I am happy,’ told us the music legend that has sold 150 million albums and singles since 1960. After a turbulent marriage with singer Ike Turner who abused her physically and psychologically, Tina found the strength to carry on with her solo career. Stability in her life also comes from a more than 20- year relationship with Erwin Bach, a 16 -year younger German producer. We talked to Tina Turner right before her performance while she was practising with her girls in Music Bank Hire. Music Bank Hire is a group of state-of-the-art studios and practising rooms. Members of Simply Red group recorded there at the same time. The famous singer was waiting for us, wearing subtle make-up and a smile, straight hair and dressed in a dark one-piece suit, probably from her favourite designer Giorgio Armani.
Although she publicly admitted to have done a plastic operation of breasts only, her looks (she seems as though she is no more than 50 years old) suggest that there were more aesthetic operations. Always smiling, she never stops praising her closest colleagues. She is especially attached to Ivona Brnelic and Solange Guenier from Switzerland who she has known for 8 years. Her team also consists of Nicki Harris (an American who also works with Madonna), Lisa Fischer (also from USA, who is a supporting vocal for Rolling Stones and a 1992 Grammy award winner for best R&B performance) and her most recent colleague Djeneba Aduayom a backing dancer for Robbie Williams. They gathered at the beginning of May in London to prepare for this performance. We haven’t seen each other for a long time which doesn’t show when we’re dancing and Djeneba also fitted in very well. We have been practising for 4 hours every day. I have to admit that I love performing but I don’t want to make a come back, Tina Turner says. She stayed in her own house in South Kensington while she was in London.
All the girls except Ivona Brnelic, who stayed in her own apartment, stayed in a hotel. Ivona, a dark-haired girl from Rijeka, has lived in London for 16 years, where she works as a choreographer and dances exclusively with Tina Turner or at some important shows like MTV awards. She wants to open a dancing school in Rijeka and Tina Turner supports her decision.
“I am delighted when one of my colleagues succeeds. They are like a family to me. Ivona is a talented young woman and I have always had faith in her and let her choreograph some of my performances.” Tina Turner, however, spends her retirement days in Zurich, where she lives with Erwin Bach and when they wish for the sea and warm weather, they move to their villa in Nice.
“I live quietly and slowly and do only what I want to and what I enjoy doing. Most people love travelling but the tours I did exhausted me so that I don’t go anywhere unless I have to. At the moment I enjoy decorating my houses, buying sculptures and works of art. I love being at home entertaining friends,” says Tina Turner and adds that she likes the European way of life and that is why she lives here. Although she loves Thai cuisine, a Swiss cooks in her kitchen. She rarely travels to USA, but when she does she looks forwards to seeing her sons – Craig, born from her relationship with sax player Raymond Hill and Ronald whose father is Ike Turner. Besides them, she also has two adopted sons, Ike junior and Michael. She says that her sons are adult men who have their own lives and families and they see and hear from each other as much as they can. They are close but they don’t feel the need to be around each other every second, which is impossible since they live on different continents.
She is also proud of her grandchildren: her grandson is 22 years old and a student, her granddaughter is 18 years old and has just finished high school. They haven’t shown any interest in music so far, Tina Turner says. The woman who people claimed to have the best legs in the world still wears mini skirts and doesn’t plan to put them away. She loves them as tight and as short as possible. She concluded this interview by saying that the most important thing in her life right now is love.
Translated by Petra Matkovic