Women to Admire: Tina Turner


For over 60 years in the music business, Tina Turner has entertained people the world over, and she’s done it all her way.

It’s hard not to admire anyone who’s been in a business — any business — for over 60 years. It’s even more impressive if they’re at the top of that business, and if they managed to get there on their own terms. For over half a century, Tina Turner has done that with her music. From her early days as an R&B firebrand to her quiet retirement abroad, she’s always done things the way she wanted to do them, no matter the obstacles.

And there were a lot of obstacles. The story of Tina’s abusive relationship with husband Ike Turner is well-known, but to dwell on it does a disservice to the breadth of her career. Most of Tina’s biggest hits — “What’s Love Got to Do with It,” “Private Dancer,” “We Don’t Need Another Hero” and more — came years after the split, years after she worked small nightclubs and the variety show circuit to pay off debts incurred following her divorce, years after she labored tirelessly to establish herself as a solo entertainer. Yes, Tina Turner’s story is about overcoming abuse, but it’s also about the cleansing power of bone-hard work. It’s hard to say which is more inspirational.

And it’s about talent. No matter where you find her on the timeline, Tina Turner is a powerful performer. Whether it’s a slow jam or a headlong rocker, she blasts you with passion, and always seems to be having the time of her life. She draws you in.

Turner went on her last significant world tour in 2008, after which she’s preferred to live a quiet life in her adopted country of Switzerland. (Well, quiet but for doing things like becoming the oldest woman ever to appear on the cover of German Vogue and writing a musical based on her life — you gotta keep busy.) There’s power in that, too, in knowing when and how and where you’re comfortable with your life as it is, even if you could keep rocking and rolling for as long as you wanted with applause on order. Tina Turner is successful by any standard, but it’s her own that matters most. If there’s one lesson to take from her life, let it be that.

Next. Women to Admire: Buffy the Vampire Slayer. dark

Editor’s Note: Every day in March, we here at Culturess will feature a Woman to Admire — both real and fictional — for Women’s History Month. Keep coming back every day to see who’s made it on the list.