Tina Cross is one of New Zealand’s enduring performance talents. Tonight on The Sunday Series we’re going to bring together some of the YouTube videos of Tina performing solo and with The Lady Killers. We’ll also include links to text and image articles.
When this lockedin, lockeddown, lockedsafe started I went online to review some of the outstanding musical talent and divas of my younger years. I’ve always loved and admired Shirley Bassey. At the back of my mind I kept thinking who in New Zealand’s performance spectrum reminds me of Dame Shirley. It’s of course Tina Cross. The sparkling satorial stage presence. Those extended hands and fingers. That body twist and turn. And above all a soaring voice and charismatic personality.
I was privileged to see Tina Cross live at the Holy Trinity Church and performance venue at a Waipuna Hospice fundraiser. Tina was performing with The Lady Killers. A stunning combination of voices and personalities: Tina, Suzanne Lynch and the ebullient Jackie Clarke. It was magical and evidence of why these three are still sought after on the performance stage.
ARTbop promoted that event as an uPflash titled “From a Whisper to a Scream” – that was such an appropriate title for the article. https://www.artbop.co.nz/upflash-lady-killers-rocking-tomorrow-night-whisper-scream/
We included our review of The Lady Killers performance in “That was the weekend that was….” https://www.artbop.co.nz/that-was-the-weekend-that-was/ What I remember most was how after “the show” The Lady Killers were down in the body of the venue talking with “the fans”. Tina Cross suggested we have our photo taken together – I don’t think so – she’s so lovely. I declined for reasons of vanitiy.
1979 was a memorable year for Tina Cross who started in television at 16 years of age – “Nothing but Dreams” with Cross in a Bassey-style gown as New Zealand’s entry in the Pacific Song Contest. The three videos below show everything about Cross and her abiility to transform herself as a performer for 1979 -1985/86.
The development of her style and presentation is clear in the two videos combined above by RNZ on Screen .https://www.nzonscreen.com/title/tina-cross-nothing-but-dreams-1979
Band Koo de Tah in Australia was another chapter https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UuTTWqnqcWw
Christmas in the Park, Auckland Domain 1990’s traditional diva glamour. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8MbmqsnBrjs
The current Lady Killers at RNZ , very different from their spangled, slick up tempo cabaret style stage performance.
Tina has used her songwriting and performance skills for socio-political causes – domestic violence, child abuse.
Forty plus years “in the business” https://www.stuff.co.nz/entertainment/music/115949560/tina-cross-reflects-on-40-years-of-nothing-but-dreams-and-a-career-done-right
The Wikipedia biography says it all:
1959–1974: Early days and TV
Cross is one of six siblings and grew up in Otara from the age of four, except for a three-year stint in Kaitaia. Cross’ mother is of Maori-Croatian descent. While the family were in Northland, Tina and one of her siblings won a talent quest.
In 1974, her friend, Kim Hart, encouraged Cross to audition for the school’s musical productions with their band, Chalkdust, and the pair sharing singing duties. In 1975, the group auditioned for television talent show Opportunity Knocks and while the band missed out, the producers saw enough in 16-year-old Cross to offer her a one-year contract where she learned her craft. Cross was soon presenting herself to a national audience via popular television shows such as Smile and Once More With Feeling.
In 1977 Cross spent some time as a dancer on the television show, Top of the World and also appeared on several episodes of Ready to Roll, where she sang the current popular hits of the day. In 1978 Cross won the rising star award at the Entertainer of the Year awards.
1979–1982: New Zealand music
In 1979, Cross released four singles, all of which made the top 50 of the New Zealand charts. Her fourth single, “Nothing But Dreams”, was the New Zealand entry into the 1979 Pacific Song Contest, which it won. Cross released her debut studio album You Can Do It in 1979.
In 1980, Cross again represented New Zealand at the Pacific Song Contest, this time, a duet with Derek Metzger titled, “Once Again With You”, taking out second place. Cross began working on a second studio album, a shift from disco to new wave ultimately failed and the album, Tina X, did not chart.
1983–1990: Koo De Tah
In 1984 she teamed up with composer-pianist Leon Berger and formed Koo De Tah. They had a hit with “Too Young for Promises” in 1985 which made it to 6 on the Australian charts, two further singles “Body Talk” and “Think of Me” were released and a self-titled album in 1986. The group disbanded in 1987.
In 1995 she appeared in touring productions of The Rocky Horror Show and Cats. She was named Best Theatrical Performer in 1995. Over the following decade, Cross played major roles in shows like Once Were Warriors, (Michael Jackson’s) Sisterella, Chicago, Boogie Nights and Miss Saigon, and produced The World Goes Round.
2005–2011: The Lady Killers and Dancing with the Stars
In 2007, Cross’s career and charity work was recognised when she was named as an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2007 Queen’s Birthday Honours, for services to the music industry. In 2008, Cross was a contestant in the 2008 New Zealand series of Dancing with the Stars, placing 5th overall. The Lady Killers released an album, Black is Back in 2009.
2012–present: Return to Music
In 2012, Cross worked with Australian DJ and music producer StereoLove. Together, they released three singles including a cover of “Too Young for Promises” by Koo De Tah. Cross recommenced writing and in June 2014, Cross released the single “Walk Away”, which written to raise funds and awareness for Women’s Refuge. Cross released her third studio album Lay Down Your Heart in October 2014.
In November 2017, Cross released “Another Little One”, a song Cross wrote inspired by toddler Moko Tangitoheriri’s brutal death. The single was released as the centrepiece of Shine’s annual Christmas campaign in 2017, asking that no more children be lost to violence or suffer abuse.Tina Cross, Suzanne Lynch and Jackie Clarke The Lady Killers rocking Tauranga for Waipuna Hospice
The content of this article has generally been sourced from what is available online with the inclusion of links to two archived ARTbop published pieces referencing The Lady Killers.
Rosemary Balu. Rosemary Balu is the founding and current Managing Editor of ARTbop. Rosemary has arts and law degrees from the University of Auckland. She has been a working lawyer and has participated in a wide variety of community activities where information gathering, submission writing, community advocacy and education have been involved. Interested in all forms of the arts since childhood Rosemary is focused on further developing and expanding multi-media ARTbop as the magazine for all the creative arts in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand.
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