A country and pop music icon since the 1970s, Olivia Newton-John has fans still hopelessly devoted to the four-time Grammy winner, who makes a rare appearance in The City at the SHN Golden Gate Theatre on Thursday.
Much of the singer’s recent energies have been focused on cancer awareness and women’s health initiatives. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992, but has been “thriving through it,” as she puts it, for two decades.
Since 2005, she’s been a principal in Gaia Retreat & Spa near Brisbane on Australia’s eastern coast. This year she opened the Olivia Newton-John Cancer & Wellness Center in Melbourne.
Among her many fundraising activities supporting these endeavors is “LivWise,” a healthy-living cookbook she published earlier this year that incorporates recipes from her German-born mother.
“We ate very healthily,” says Newton-John of her childhood. “Potatoes with skins on, steamed vegetables and steamed fish. When I was a young girl, I really kind of objected to it because all my other friends were having Vegemite sandwiches and all this unhealthy stuff and I always was eating healthy.”
She’s now grateful for that nutritional training. “It’s really important that we teach children the importance of eating properly from an early age because you do establish those habits young.”
Among her favorite inherited recipes included in “LivWise” is one for baked fruit desserts. “Baked apples and baked pears! You core them out and put raisins or cranberries or whatever you want in the middle and bake them in juice. Usually I use orange juice. When it cooks it caramelizes. It’s just delicious.”
As evidenced by her current tour, the focus on health has not supplanted the pleasure of performing. She’s also playing the mother of the bride in Stephan Elliott’s comedy “A Few Best Men” opening later this year.
“I had a blast,” she says, “and made some good friends out of it.”
“Some people say I didn’t make the most of my fame when I was at my ‘Britney days,’ I call it,” she laughs, “but I feel I’ve had a wonderful life. I’ve experienced my daughter, which was the most important thing to me, and I’ve had the most amazing experiences: music, movies, the spa, the hospital and liv.com, the women’s breast health website.”
Newton-John also collaborates with husband John Easterling’s Amazon Herb Company. “I’m very involved with him and trying to preserve the rainforest, which was a passion of mine even before we were together,” she says, “so I have a very full life and it covers a lot of different areas.”
IF YOU GO
Where: Golden Gate Theatre, 1 Taylor St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Thursday
Tickets: $50 to $150
Contact: (888) 746-1799, www.shnsf.com