In a 1985 interview, Tina Turner was asked, “Who believed in you?” Her response came quickly: “Me. All me.” This self-belief, channelled through a spine strong as steel, infuses the best Tina Turner songs. Given the challenges and hardships she has faced, it is one reason why her music and her life inspired generations of musicians and fans.
Born Anna Mae Bullock on 26 November 1939, in Brownsville, Tennessee, Turner first encountered music in the church, where, like many of the world’s best soul singers, she sang in the choir. She began her professional musical career performing alongside Ike Turner. There’s no doubt that Ike and Tina Turner were a formidable duo who helped shape soul music in the 60s, but Tina was a musical force to be reckoned with all by herself. From the very beginning, her raw, gritty voice stood out from the crowd, and she could belt out songs at the top of her lungs, ensuring everyone heard her message. That voice took her from the studio to the stage, the big screen and the theatre, and ensured that the best Tina Turner songs still stand the test of time.
One of the most influential Black musicians in history, Tina Turner died in May 2023, in her adopted home of Switzerland. In an interview published just a month before her passing, she was as powerful as ever. Asked how she would like to be remembered, she said: “As the ‘Queen Of Rock’n’Roll. As a woman who showed other woman that it is OK to strike for success on their own terms.”