I love to reminisce.
In fact I have "access all areas" to the past whenever I sing the songs I've written over the years. They bring back all manner of moments and memories of people, places and emotions. They're my own personal little history lesson and a place I truly enjoy visiting.
I have to say opening my mouth to sing was a real challenge for me and probably the reason why I started out singing harmony, leaving my best friend Nancy to carry the song. It was a slow process stepping out on my own but I recall a feeling rather like taking the pin out of a grenade and trying not to dwell on the outcome too much. Now I can't think of anything more enjoyable than performing live.
There are no limitations for female artists now. Technology has given way to global accessibility and there are no rules. Being largely an 80s artist, it was all about pubs, clubs, big hair, bone-crushing transport and mostly guys on stage. Sometimes I think back and have a hearty laugh but we were deadly serious.
I think freedom in music is a great thing but there will always be movements and trends that will hold court for a while.
I was star-struck meeting Elton, of course. When I worked in radio I programmed his albums (yes, albums) all the time. I loved his sense of melody and I still have an amazing book of Bernie Taupin's poems and lyrics. To be called up on stage to sing at the end of his concert in Wellington was the icing on the cake. A close second-best would be hearing Don Henley sing harmonies in the studio on one of my songs.
New Zealand, from over here in Australia, looks small but beautiful ... hanging off the right rump of Australia on the weather map! On the recent Church Tour of NZ I felt like an excited kid simply taking in the cows and sheep ... the spring lambs ... the clean air. I got my fix.
Australia could do with more of pretty much what the whole world could do with more of: tolerance and peace. Sadly these days we all have to watch our backs. More laughter wouldn't go astray so laugh whenever you can.
My earliest memory of a song ...
I'm torn on this one but when I was really little I loved
How Much is that Doggie in the Window
by Patti Page. I thought the lyrics were cute. Then there was
by Connie Francis ... a really clever song and then Gene Pitney's
A Town Without Pity
... that track I'm sure I wore out.
Actually I wouldn't do anything differently. Nothing because life is full of ups and downs but they mould who you are and they teach you resilience. You can draw on that when you need to.
I can chomp my way through a bunch of parsley, no problem. I have a high tolerance when it comes to chilli heat (I'm the designated raw chilli-taster). I am petrified of bogong moths but I absolutely adore cats.
If I could say one thing to my 12-year-old-self? Grow up!
This line from one of my songs sums me up: "She Danced In the Fire, wearing a frozen glance and sailed on down a river of stone".
I would love to sing I Can't Make You Love Me ... I would sing it live but never record it because although she didn't write it, Bonnie Raitt totally "owns" it. Beautiful.
The future looks fine and dandy right now. I've just toured NZ, I'm going back next year to sing with my favourite "sisters of song", Debbie Harwood, Margaret Urlich, Annie Crummer and the wonderful Shona Laing and I'm grateful to still be doing what I love.
The great love of my life is without a doubt my partner on every level, Alan Mansfield.
There's not enough space for what I'd change about myself (only joking) ... I'm pretty content and hugely locked in to any shoe with a heel so I can see over the counter at the shops.
Sharon O'Neill is part of the landmark exhibition Volume - Making Music in Aotearoa, at Auckland Museum until May 2017.