From Advocate.com: Thirty years after the release of her smash “Physical,” Olivia Newton-John is still going strong and captivating fans. The iconic singer pays tribute to her favorite female vocalists, recalls the gay couples in her groundbreaking video, and tells why she’s excited about marriage equality.
The Advocate: On your new CD “Portraits” you sing songs associated with other female vocalists. How did you decide which songs to include on the album?
Olivia Newton-John: They are all women whom I’ve admired and songs I’ve sung during my career and while growing up. I just wanted to honor those ladies.
Advocate: The album includes a gorgeous cover of the Carpenters’ “Rainy Days and Mondays.” You and Karen were close friends, and it’s been nearly 30 years since she passed away. What’s something about her most people don’t know?
Olivia: She was a very good friend. She was a lovely girl and a lot of fun. I think most people don’t know how much she loved Mickey Mouse and Disneyland. She lived [nearby] and loved to go there. She had Mickey Mouses and photos of the Disney characters in her house. She wore T-shirts with Mickey’s face on it. She loved all of that. She was a kid, a big kid. She was a lot of fun and had the most amazing voice. I was such a fan of hers. She was a great girl and I do miss her.
Advocate: The proceeds from your new dance remix of “Magic”will benefit your Wellness and Cancer Center. When will the center open and how exactly will it help people?
Olivia: It’s hopefully going to open in Melbourne, Australia, next year, because we have eight or nine stories built already. It’s been an eight-year project raising the money for the center. We just got $45 million from the government and we’re just $8 million short of the money needed to finish. It’s going to be a very special place with a state-of-the-art hospital and two stories for a research institute. We’ll also have this wonderful wellness center attached to it. While people are going through treatment they’ll be able to go to the wellness center and take a yoga class or a meditation or have a group talk with other people going through the same situation or have a cup of tea. It will be a wonderful respite. I dreamt of something like this when I was going through cancer myself, and now I’m able to provide this for people at the center, so it makes me happy.
Advocate: Besides being an advocate for early cancer detection, you’ve also done a lot of charitable work on behalf of animals, children, and the environment. Why is it so important for you to give back to people?
Olivia: I feel that I’ve been given so much and I’ve been so privileged. I’m privileged that they asked me to raise money for this center and put my name on it. So it’s very important to me that it’s a wonderful place.
Advocate: Your career has been so varied and you’ve recorded in many different genres. Have you considered releasing an album of just dance music?
Olivia: Actually, yes. A few people have asked me that, so we’ve been pulling some of the old songs together to decide which ones would work with a dance remix. So yeah, it’s happening. [Laughs] Plus there will be some new songs. I have a new movie coming out, and I think I’ll record a dance song for it.
Advocate: This year marks three decades since you released “Physical,” which was not only your biggest hit, but the longest-running number 1 song of the ’80s. I’ve read that after you recorded it you were apprehensive about releasing it as a single.
Olivia: [Laughs] It’s funny. I had a delayed reaction. I recorded it and then had a panic attack. I called my manager and said, “You’ve got to stop it. It’s too naughty.” He told me it was too late. By that time it had already gone to radio and was on its way to number 1. [Laughs] So I quickly adjusted.