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Interview: Olivia Newton-John

On tour with a stop at the Taj, she has reunited with 'Grease' co-star John Travolta for a newly released Christmas album

By Lori Hoffman
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 2 | Posted Nov. 12, 2012

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John and Olivia: Reunited for the 2012 holidays.

Olivia Newton-John has been keeping busy with her current tour and a new project reuniting her with her co-star from the movie Grease, John Travolta, a holiday CD This Christmas, released Nov. 13. It was the first time they have teamed up for a music project in 30 years, with all the proceeds going to their respective charities, the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre and the Jett Travolta Foundation.

The CD is the audio equivalent of those classic network TV specials hosted from the stars’ homes, an intimate, warm set of traditional holiday songs and features special guests Barbra Streisand, Tony Bennett and the Count Basie Orchestra, James Taylor, Chick Corea, Kenny G and Sir Cliff Richard.

Newton-John is currently celebrating her 40th year in music with over 100 million albums sold, four Grammy Awards, an Emmy and numerous People’s Choice, Billboard, Country Music and American Music Awards.

A breast cancer survivor, she also has a new cookbook, LivWise: Easy Recipes for A Healthy, Happy Life.

When I talked with Newton-John via phone Oct. 26, she was in Florida just as Hurricane Sandy was dumping heavy rain and wind in the state. I told her I was concerned about the storm’s trip up the coast, but that the weather forecasters tend to be overly dramatic. Oops. Not this time.

In reading about and listening to your new album, it sounds like you and John Travolta have remained friends over the years. So how did this Christmas album idea begin?

I sent him an e-mail last year around Thanksgiving, saying ‘Congratulations. You’re The One That I Want just became the bestselling duet of all time.’ He was sitting with his family listening to Christmas music. He got the idea that we should do some Christmas music together because he absolutely loves Christmas music. Later we got together and he said, ‘We should do a whole Christmas CD and let’s do it for our charities.' The fact that it was for something important gave it a lot more meaning for us.
 
The album is being promoted with the line, “audio equivalent of a classic holiday TV special.” You usually have to take promotional materials with a grain of salt, but they nailed it this time. I liked that it was informal and it did evoke holiday specials with Andy Williams and Nat King Cole from way back in the day.

Oh good. That’s what we wanted, we wanted to make it comfortable. John was very hands-on with this record. We didn’t want it to be ostentatious but fun to listen to.

Did you record it together in the studio?

The stuff that we are singing together we were together. There were a few bits where our schedules didn’t work out, but mostly we were together.

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1. Bill Parry said... on Nov 13, 2012 at 10:58AM

“Ms Newton-John's music of the 1980s is so much superior in quality to the rest of her work that she should undertake a world tour dedicated to that alone. The nonsense from 'Grease' is populist tosh - but tracks such as "Recovery", "Tied Up", "Overnight Observation" and "Can't We Talk it Over in Bed?" represent an artistic zenith that only Paul Kantner and Scott Miller matched in the course of that decade.”

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2. Darrell said... on Nov 14, 2012 at 05:58PM

“Going to the show Saturday night
and cannot wait.

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