After almost 40 years in the music industry, Kiwi songbird Tina Cross is revealing her true self.
The veteran star is baring her soul for the first time, reinventing herself as a singer-songwriter.
At 55, Auckland-based Cross has just released her most personal album to date, Lay Down Your Heart, which features, for the first time, songs she has written.
The tracks are mainly autobiographical. They document family triumphs and tragedies as well as tackle hard-hitting subjects such as domestic abuse.
"This is a big sidestep for me and I don't mind admitting it is a scary one," she told the Herald on Sunday. "I have been in showbusiness for a long time and didn't think I had it in me to write my own songs. But to be honest, I was getting a little bored with doing the same old thing and wanted to make a change.
"To finally reveal what has been going on in my life through my own lyrics and tunes has been pretty daunting. But I am finding it surprisingly cathartic and I am glad I have found a way to express how I feel, rather than simply singing other people's songs."
The mother of two said the album was dedicated to her husband, Wayne Sullivan, with whom she has been for 33 years.
One poignant song, Gavy Boy, tells of the struggle of a family friend who died from cancer at 35. Profits from her new single Walk Away will go to Women's Refuge, for which she is an ambassador.
"I have never been a victim of domestic violence but I am well aware our record in New Zealand is terrible," Cross said. "I got the idea to write something about the issue when I appeared in a musical drama version of Once Were Warriors and it had a big effect on me.
"I simply wanted to help give a voice to women and children who are still suffering."
Cross was this month given a Benny Award from the Variety Artists Club of New Zealand in recognition of a lifetime of excellence in performing arts.
She put her career longevity and youthful looks down to a combination of diet and exercise, and insists branching out as a singer-songwriter has also helped give her a new lease on life.
"I have always looked after myself and I intend being around in this business for a long time yet."
The Herald on Sunday has 10 copies of Lay Down Your Heart to give away. Enter by visiting winwithheraldonsunday.co.nz and enter the keyword "Tina". Entries close at noon, Thursday October 30. Terms and conditions available on the website.