It's been awhile since Olivia Newton-John won a Grammy 1984 actually but crusading spirits do prevail. At age 58, she is prevailing her way across the States, promoting breast health and singing the standards that brought her international fame.
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She's all about health nowadays, after surviving breast cancer in the Nineties. Her 1994 album, Gaia (a Top 10 charter in her native Australia that didn't see American release until 2002), was a wide departure, owing not only to the absence of her usual cutie-pie-ness but also to her writing all the rather new-agey songs herself. Her promotion of breast health awareness led to her creating the Olivia Breast Self-Exam Kit, an aid to help women perform self-exams "with more ease and confidence." This new, more real interest in getting physical reached its apex during the 2000 Olympics, when Newton-John carried the torch during the traditional relay.
In the weird-as-hell department, Dateline NBC reported earlier this month about the mysterious 2005 disappearance of Newton-John's boyfriend, lighting tech Patrick McDermott, who went missing during an overnight fishing trip. His keys and wallet were discovered onboard, and his car was parked where he'd left it at the marina, but somehow he either fell off a crowded boat and drowned or pulled a Houdini, the latter generally regarded as the more palatable possibility, being that soon after the disappearance, tongues began wagging about how the pair might have broken up, leaving him deeply in debt. Locals in Baja, Mexico, claim to have seen McDermott bopping around town.
Olivia Newton-John performs at 8:00 p.m. Saturday, December 2, at Carnival Center for the Performing Arts, 1300 Biscayne Blvd, Miami. Ticket prices range from $48.50 to $68.50. Call 305-949-6722 or click www.carnivalcenter.org for more information.
Hollywood pulp aside, fans will be cheered to know that the Grease segment is present and accounted for in this tour, with renditions of "You're the One That I Want" and "Hopelessly Devoted to You."
Grace and Gratitude is the new album, released on her own label this past September. Eric W. Saeger