She came to Australia for six months at the age of 16 and 50 years later, Marcia Hines continues to dazzle her fans with her songs and her extraordinary relationship with live audiences.
The musical treasure has notched up 50 years in the business with the release of her greatest hits Still Shining: The 50th Anniversary Ultimate Collection and a country-wide tour for the rest of 2023.
At 69, she's pumped about the tour, which started with two gigs in Sydney in July.
"I can't go on stage every night like I used to so we're doing two or three shows a week and that's why the tour goes for the rest of the year," she said.
"We came off the stage limping after the first two shows.
"This tour is unusual because it is a greatest hits show so every song has been a big hit for me. You don't always get all the greatest hits at a show."
It has now been over 50 years since Marcia first arrived in Australia for Hair and to celebrate her extraordinary career, ABC Records and Midnight Records have released a 22-song celebration of her amazing journey.
The album, which hit the radio waves on July 7, contains career-defining songs including Fire and Rain, From The Inside, You and Something's Missing (In My Life).
Two new songs, Last One Standing and Hard To Breathe, were both written and recorded by LA-based Australian producer/composer Michael Fatkin.
They are destined to become anthems to generations of Aussies who have grown up listening to the work of Australia's favourite disco queen who is thrilled the genre lives on.
"I have to admit that the release of Still Shining is as exciting as the release of my very first album," Marcia said.
"Honestly, some things never get old. It's an honour to still be releasing music and playing to live audiences around the country.
"I'm just as excited about the release of a new album as I was 50 years ago although I admit my first, Fire and Rain, is still my favourite purely because it was my first and it's a wonderful, wonderful song."
As Marcia tours for the rest of 2023, each performance will encapsulate her extraordinary recording career.
"I'm very excited but I don't rest on my laurels. It's important to still be relevant.
"I never entered this thing to do anything except sing. And the lifestyle that I have is because of the music I've chosen and because of the love I received from the Australian public."
I never entered this thing to do anything except sing. And the lifestyle that I have is because of the music I've chosen and because of the love I received from the Australian public.- Marcia Hines
Her return to regional centres across Australia is an acknowledgement of the importance of these cities and towns to her journey.
"A lot of people still want to see me, hear me so it's vital that we cover rural areas as well as the big smoke," she said.
"I'd be a fool if I didn't think that I've been blessed. I'm quite aware of what I've achieved so far and I'm far from finished."
These years of touring were so significant in the establishment of her career and her relationship with Australian audiences.
With a career spanning five decades, she has released 22 albums, selling 2.6 million copies, and has garnered countless chart-topping singles and multi-platinum records globally.
Not bad for someone who arrived in Australia at the age of 16 and only expected to stay for six months.
Marcia is an inspiration to people everywhere, constantly reinventing herself and setting industry benchmarks; moving from Boston, Massachusetts, to Sydney at just 16 to star in the Australian production of Hair, being the first black woman to star as Mary Magdalene in Jesus Christ Superstar and advocating for diabetes.
Marcia was Australian Idol's favourite judge for the show's seven consecutive years and was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 2007.
She received the Order of Australia in 2009 for her services to the Australian entertainment industry as a performer, judge and mentor, and to the community through a range of charitable organisations.
Since 2015 Marcia has starred in the circus/burlesque/discotheque spectacular Velvet, directed by Craig Ilott and now a global success story with shows running in Europe and North America.
Velvet morphed into Velvet Rewired and 2023 saw Marcia return to the stage in this production in a sell-out Australian tour that included eight weeks at the Sydney Opera House.
There have been other productions including Pigalle for the Sydney Festival, Saturday Night Fever at Sydney's Lyric Theatre, and in 2020 she became The Dragon in the Australian premiere of Shrek The Musical.
There is a gospel album coming out in November on top of her national tour so there is no sign of slowing down.
- For dates, venues and tickets, go to marciahines.com