Grammy Award nominated 80s singer Toni Childs Now An Australian Citizen

Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter Toni Childs is best known for her 80s hits Stop Your Fussin’ and Don’t Walk Away, but it was House of Hope that earned her an Emmy Award when used in the epic road trip adventure Thelma & Louise in 1991.

These days you’ll find the Californian musician living in the small NSW town of Federal near Byron Bay; having moved to Australia 11 years ago.

She’s based here with her Australian husband Mik Lavage [sound designer, composer and filmmaker] who she met on a flight in 2010. They both work on environmental projects and tours together – the most recent filming an educational tour on the Great Barrier Reef where she performs her songs underwater and the film used in her stage shows. It’s an evolving conversation and one she feels strongly about.

“I feel safe in Australia and I love my quality of life here. I am also passionate about my environmental work here, so it feels a privilege to be on this land,” says Toni Childs who was in Hawaii before she made the switch.

She first toured Australia in 1989 and instantly fell in love. It was the same year she had opened for Bob Dylan and was nominated for two Grammy Awards.

“I wasn’t chiming with America’s stance on the Iraq War, so I left the mainland,” she says.

“Then I met Mik and we decided to come to Australia,” says Childs who has since become an Australian citizen.

For someone who ran away from a strict religious home at 15, and hitchhiked her way around California, Childs says angels were certainly watching over her.

She discovered rock’n’roll music when hanging out with her neighbour’s older boyfriend – who flipped all the essentials that changed her life – Led Zeppelin, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Pink Floyd. “It blew my mind and spoke to me,” says Childs.

“I didn’t know I could sing until I ran away from home. I made my way to Huntington Beach and discovered a beautiful group of people who had a shop – a cobbler, a surf board shaper and so on. Every Sunday they would host an open mic.  After two Sundays attending, I wanted to get on stage and try it myself. I stood in line and was constantly pushed to the end. I was the only girl trying to get up there at the time.  All the others had swagger and attitude and looked at me and rolled their eyes,” she says.

“I stood my ground and started singing. I growled harder and I sang like I had sung the blues all my life. They told me I sounded like an 80-year-old black woman. That’s all I needed to continue with it,” says Childs.

In 1981 she signed a publishing deal that saw her move to London for four years. That’s where she starting writing her debut. In 1985, she signed to A&M Records, who released her debut album Union in 1988.

“I had been working towards finding an international deal when I started playing and I got lucky that I signed to an artist owned company. It worked out amazingly for me. I had a Cinderella experience, and sadly many musicians don’t have that,” says Childs.

“When I toured and started getting attention, I felt very awkward. Everything I write is connected to me personally so to be on massive international press tours talking to complete strangers was weird,” she says.

“I felt like a deer in the headlines and it took me a while to understand it because I wasn’t comfortable with it. But now, at my age, I am definitely comfortable. I wasn’t very secure as a woman back then,” she says.

Childs has been touring regional Australia and plans to visit 80 towns over the next five years. She will also release three new singles from a new album It’s All A Beautiful Noise.

“I ain’t done yet,” she says. “I’ve been in Canada working on some songs and I have lots to do this decade. This is just the beginning.”

When it comes to what we can expect from her live shows as part of The Corrs tour, Childs says she’s serving dessert before the main course.

“I’ll play the hits that everybody loves,” she says. “And then I’ll delve into some new songs I’ve been working on.”

See here for The Corrs + Toni Childs + Natalie Imbruglia tour dates:





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