Talent Profiles: Tina Hall talks to James Murphy
Tina Hall is a name to watch. From surviving a school for The Worst Witch, years before Harry Potter even existed! To working with Idris Elba.
And now honing THE most promising music career this side of Spain, via The Voice tv show..Tina has a wealth of talent, insight and some great stories to share.
And yes she’s beautiful. Yes, this is music (yep: we do music now too; deal with it). Yes, it’s ‘Europe’ (even Trump loves it there, American friends).
So..Say (or rather, sing?) a giant ‘HOLA!’, to quite the loveliest profile subject /interviewee in Movie Viral history..
The lovely TINA HALL!
It’s an opportune moment to look at the crossover between media as musicals are coming home, even if football isn’t. Spielberg is remaking West Side Story and the Bohemian Rhapsody QUEEN musical movie is on its way. MAMA MIA! 2 is coming in the next week or so and The Greatest Showman was a phenomenon.
Bollywood is booming and MovieViral is making in-roads there and in Europe: two markets whereby music integrated to narrative is a defining feature.
We start today by chatting to Tina. First thing to note is of course the professional versatility. Yes, she’s lovely and charming ; infectious laugh and textured voice to match.
That noted..she’s professional. An actress and accomplished singer /musician. She therefore has unique insights to how the European markets are emerging.
Case in point: Tina is a veteran of the Spanish version of The Voice. Initially a UK show, its brand spread abroad and hence created a bigger base for artists to find..well..their..voice!
The format is largely the same (a more specialist, refined counterpart to The X Factor); right down to colour schemes and camera angles.
You need a certain craft level to excel on The Voice in a manner many other shows might neglect or overlook. An ability to perform at an higher level and Tina certainly has that.
One can see why she did so well in the contest and how the overlap with stage /cinema craft from her acting career has fused skill bases to create truly magnetic performances. I’d go so far as saying that some of her cover versions are better than the originals. THAT’S how good she is!
Now there is, of course, a payoff. And I can see it coming. Yep. The fact that a performer chooses a European rather than American platform to launch means they start off inevitably in a more niche less mass market. And yes, that means one will not be a household name overnight, if at all.
But it is a choice that a number of actors and singers are taking, even shunning / missing offers elsewhere in consequence. You get a certain dignity and privacy to get on with the craft, unfettered by intrusion, without losing the thrill of performance and neither necessarily turning one’s back on those UK/US opportunities.
And Tina can genuinely play it her way, taking shows on whichever road she chooses. Fame and international profile are staples, trappings; methods and spin offs that accompany the work, rather than ends in themselves. Yes, they are desired hallmarks of people loving the performances, with financial and material /social perks to match.
But one has to love the craft, first and foremost. An admirably pragmatic, holistic and grounded ethic: allowing her to focus on the music. This is, remember, an industry veteran, of sorts, having started as a child star, ℅ The Worst Witch.
‘I played the part of Amanda Honeydew, a naughty pupil who always wanted to be a pop star! So Amanda made her dream come true and had hits as The Spell Girls…then she went back to her beloved school and saved it by buying the castle and then giving it back to the teachers to run as they see fit!’.
I always felt The Worst Witch was a proto Harry Potter and deserved bigger revenue / recognition in consequence. Tina diplomatically won’t be drawn on that idea (perhaps because she’s smart and shrewd).
Then there was the British soap opera, Family Affairs. Airing on Channel 5 every day from 1997-2005; the show was very much ahead of its time. In today’s market of 24/7 access to multiple media and live recordings and interactivity, we take it for granted that there will always be a soap opera ep to hand.
But in 1997 that was a true innovation in scheduling and Tina was one of its poster girls, sent to represent the brand at awards ceremonies, conventions and so on.
It coincided with the height of the Spice Girls and the attendant mania for that band and it’s fair to say that Tina was able to fuse the charms of a ‘Baby’ Emma Bunton to the sheer ambition and theatricality of Geri Halliwell/Horner /Ginger.
The show attracted future stars and talents, given that its alumni also include Idris Elba.
(Spot the Idris Elba ;))
‘FAMILY AFFAIRS was the first show to go out on Channel 5 on Easter Sunday when Channel 5 launched. Very fond memories and dear friendships made. I am still in regular contact with many people from those fun days. It’s my Family Affairs family. We were the first show to go 5 days a week, set a new trend. I am very proud of that show and everyone involved. So special for me’.
Notice that there is no precious pretension about soap; Tina shuns any notion of ‘stigma’ associated with the genre. And she’d be happy to try another one IF script / character matched. Thankfully her schedule moves on her terms. There are touring commitments to navigate and the duty to keep writing, experimenting, recording and performing.
Those commitments cannot be understated. Tina was signed to UNIVERSAL RECORDS in June of this year. A tour finishes in December of 2019 at the Indigo O2, London.
Nottingham is also a destination (Tina’s home town and she will grace the Royal Concert Hall). Quite a mountain to climb: a theatre tour, covering 24 cities, with Ireland also imminent and talks of Australia and the USA.
But it’s ultimately on her terms; Tina is aware that sacrifices were made in terms of some short term acting profile to consolidate the music. It has thusfar paid off, thereby ensuring she could, in theory, take up any acting part she liked and was cast for. And yes, that includes soap opera.
‘If the character was interesting and the storyline good then I would love to!
Fortunately these days there is no stigma attached to actors who sing or vice versa.
‘The tour with Johnny and our band is priority for the next year or so but we have planned the tour and Johnny and I are Executive Producers for the show as to allow and possibly accommodate a filming schedule’.
The tour in question is ‘Country Rocks’ and one can see how it is a full commitment. Though equally, the theatricality and thespian quality is ‘there’.
The following /hype/buzz is growing, daily. To be honest, we got VERY lucky by sneaking this profile /interview/chat through and Tina is being rather generous with her time as is.
There is a kind of Rayna and Deacon brand in waiting vibe to all of this..;)
Yep. Tina might be THE best ambassador for fusing acting to song. It’s all art. Expression. Telling stories. There is something about HOW she captures a screen and a song and not only accommodates but actively invites an exchange of ideas, beyond the perfunctory celeb pleasantries.
Class, charm..that sort of thing. And above all: TALENT! Real. Raw. Relentless. Star quality, basically.
Tina belts out a cover version as though playing a part; the vocals are projected with a pitch, poise and passion that lend an extra energy / spirit to the performance. Her cover of Guns and Roses ‘Sweet Child..’ is every bit as alive, passionate and energetic as the original.
Is there a secret to the art of a good cover?
‘Love it and feel it’.
Simple, clear, honest and precisely the founding emotions that pervade her output. This lady sings from the heart, soul and body and it’s a beautiful thing to watch as well as listen to.
And yet there must, surely be some conflict or occasional clash between the two crafts? Can the singer overwhelm the actress and vice versa?
There must be some innate conflict or tension there, given that whilst actors sometimes sing in a role, singers do not tend to be able to go seeking / accepting the right acting parts.
Tina does not think so. Yes, she has missed out on some parts, due to her focus on the music. But the two things always existed in tandem, her singing segued into the acting to an extent from an early age.
‘I started out as a singer in my teens doing the working mens’ clubs in the East Midlands. It was a great learning curve. I was writing my own material back then too … then came into acting professionally when I met the wonderful Dame Thora Hird on set of a rock n roll film where I played the lead, so it was fantastic to sing on stage, work with a band and record the soundtrack for the album. The film was Julie and the Cadillacs, that’s where I met my friends Billy Boyd(Pippin-Lord of the Rings), the dear Victor Spinetti, Peter Polycarpou, Ben Richards and Toyah’.
So you can mix and match crafts. Whyever not? That’s how many of the greats in Hollywood have thrived down the years. Singing as a hobby can be a supplemental support or the main basis of the performer’s ‘way in’ to film and so on.
‘Marilyn Monroe, Meryl Streep, Dolly Parton, Johnny Depp (does a great cover of Heroes in Hollywood Vampires)’: just a few names that come to mind for Tina when asked to name heroes. The idea is that any actor should be able to sing competently and any singer deep down knows they should have a theatricality and craft to their act.
Meryl of course is gracing Mama Mia: Here we Go Again, opposite Pierce Brosnan, who once played 007. And Pierce’s first turn as Bond was graced by a Tina Turner song, (written by Bono and the Edge: the underrated ‘GoldenEye’ track).
And Tina Hall admires Tina Turner. Would Ms Hall like to be a Bond Girl? Does the post #metoo era change things? ‘I would definitely consider being a Bond Girl, she would have to be naughty though!’
Any other dream jobs? ‘I would love to play Jack Sparrow’s wife! – a mischievous pirate vixen! I also have a crush on Johnny Depp!’
Well, they are probably making a sixth; and Johnny is not spoken for that i know of? I’m sure he’d be charmed both personally and professionally. Plus, Tina would rock a Pirate costume. Or ANY costume for that matter 😉
It is certainly what Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow might term an ‘opportune moment’ to fuse acting and song, with numerous musical projects on film currently being developed /made/released. The Spielberg West Side Story, Mama Mia: Here we Go Again and so on.
Musicals are back in a big way and Tina sees the opportunities.
‘I am a big fan of The Band. I adore The Last Waltz – that would be a cool project to make into a new action, rock ‘roll movie, with a fictional storyline mixed with the truth’.
A Freddie Mercury /Queen biopic is on its way (starring Rami Malek), with trailers recently released. It had a controversial production, with director Bryan Singer leaving and replacements of leads and the like but Tina was almost involved in the film.
‘I was asked to go and see the producer 3 years ago for Freddie Mercury’s biopic, they called me to play the part of Barbara Valentin … after a month of meetings and talks they decided to go with an older version of Barbara, however, I loved being involved for that short period’.
With musicals back in vogue? Similar offers cannot be far off. For the moment / in the meantime, though..
‘I am currently in rehearsals for the tour and in the studio recording the album for our Country Rocks show with my boy Johnny Westwood’.
We wish Tina every success with that and are most grateful for her time.
JAMES MURPHY IS EDITOR IN CHIEF AT MOVIE VIRAL. He has no musical talent whatsoever. But loves film scores and great cover versions. Sings in shower. Sometimes. Don’t tell anyone..might look uncool. 😉