Tina Cross shares her top travel tips and memories of performing intimate European concerts
In my 44 years as a professional singer my work has provided some awesome travel opportunities. The first biggie was in 1979, a 5-week tour through the USA and Canada with the late Sir Howard Morrison and entourage, as part of a Tourism NZ promotional show. I was 20 and had never been further than Australia and didn't own a camera. That taught me a valuable travel lesson: Don't leave home without one.
I'd become a Sydney resident by the time I was 22 and in my 10 years in Australia I got to travel a lot. On a 1988 trip to what was then Bombay, I was booked to perform a New Year's Eve show at the Taj Mahal Hotel. I had my two dancers and we were all set to work with the Hotel's Indian band. Our version of Sheila E's, The Glamorous Life, was out there on its own. We persevered and the audience were none the wiser. My husband was the camera man. Travel tip: take your husband and make him work for you.
Fast forward to my third European trip in 2014. My family and I had previously stayed at a villa owned by French/Kiwi legend Amanda Taylor-Ace. She had joked with me about coming back to perform a concert in the village square of St Maximin in the town of Uzes.
I returned with my pianist Barb Griffin and fellow singer Rikki Morris and we put on a concert in the village square with an ancient brick wall as our backdrop. I returned again, three years later to put on a much smaller scale concert in her garden.
My daughter Leah was in the middle of her European OE and following the garden concert she and her partner joined me for a further soiree through the Amalfi Coast of Italy and Croatia. If there's one thing that will draw you back to the same part of the world, it's to see your children, while they're living there. Top travel tip: Follow the adventures of your kids.
When travelling, one of my biggest issues is mastering the art of packing light. I'm a clean freak and forever worried about running out of clothes before finding a laundromat. My sunlight handwashing soap is an essential. I don't do long-haul without it.
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My other must have is my Hawaiian ukulele. If I'm bored, I play and sing and I'm happy to entertain anyone within earshot. I once sang La Bamba with an Italian acoustic band in Rome. When one of my friends dobbed me in as a singer, the band wouldn't let me stop. When I started singing Pokarekare Ana, they followed beautifully, all guitar chords were perfect. Music is universal and truly does create instant friendship.
E koekoe te tui, e ketekete te kākā, e kūkū te kererū
The tui chatters, the parrot gabbles, the wood pigeon coos
It takes all kinds of people (Matariki Maori Proverb)
Tina Cross stars in Salute to Nothing But Dreams at Auckland's Pumphouse Theatre on Friday October 25, 7.30pm.