New Vanity Fair article:
Tina Turner’s Swiss Chateau Retirement Is Going Dreamily, Thanks for Asking
As the Tony-winning Broadway musical about her life returns to the stage, the legendary performer reflects on her career in a new interview: “Recently Cher came to visit. We gossiped and laughed a lot.”
BY YOHANA DESTA
OCTOBER 8, 2021
There is a plaque in Tina Turner’s home that reads, “Please no package deliveries before 12 o’clock.”
“You can deduce from that: I am not an early riser,” Turner says via email when asked to describe a typical day in retirement for her. “I start every day calmly. My favorite thing is to take care of my flowers in the garden.”
It’s a blissful life, one that Turner worked incredibly hard to earn. The legendary entertainer stepped back from the public eye nearly 20 years ago, retiring to Chateau Algonquin, her sprawling home in Switzerland, with husband Erwin Bach. But public fascination with Turner hasn’t gone away. This month, Tina, the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical based on her life, returns to the stage, with best actress winner Adrienne Warren reprising her role as Turner for the rest of October. Then the role will be taken over by Nkeki Obi-Melekwe, who played Turner in the musical’s West End production.
That’s not all Turner has going on, though. Later this month, she’ll be inducted to the Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame for a second time—this time as a solo performer, sans Ike. She’ll also see BMG acquire her music catalog for a reported $50 million. In an email interview with Vanity Fair, Turner reflected on these recent achievements and pulled back the curtain on what life is like for her these days, taking care of her garden and entertaining guests like Cher at the chateau.
I was just thrilled for Adrienne to receive the recognition she so richly deserved. She has given everything to this role. I know what it takes, and I am so proud of her. She is very special to me and always will be. I felt the same joy when I spoke with Katori [Hall, who wrote the book for Tina] the day she won her Pulitzer. I whooped with excitement! It means so much to me to see this generation of incredible women take flight.
Nkeki Obi-Melekwe will take over for Adrienne next month. Do you have any advice for her? And were you able to meet her, either virtually or in-person, at all in this process?
My producer brought Nkeki to visit me at home when they first discovered her two years ago. She was only 23 then and about to begin playing the role of Tina in the West End. Nkeki is a powerhouse. To take the baton in this most challenging leading role in what is her Broadway debut so early in her career says it all. I love that we even share the same birthmark!
You’ll be inducted to the Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame for a second time this month, but this time as a solo performer. What does that recognition mean to you?
I was of course very excited to be inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, it’s a great honor for me. At the same time, I feel a certain humility to be in a row with the greatest musicians of this world.
I’m curious about your retirement. You live in Switzerland, in a beautiful chateau that was shown briefly in the documentary Tina. What is your favorite room or space in your home and why?
Oh, I don’t have a favorite room at all. However, in the course of one’s life, one accumulates many objects for which one needs space. I have, for example, some artifacts of Egyptian art. I like to be surrounded by these and other collectibles. It is not at all about whether they are expensive or valuable. The important thing is that I have a personal relationship with each one. I also love the view of Lake Zurich from our garden—I enjoy the peace and quiet.
In a 2019 New York Times interview, you said this of your retirement: “I don’t sing. I don’t dance. I don’t dress up.” Is that still true?
Hahaha. Yes, that’s true. Well. Sometimes I subconsciously hum along to a song that’s on the radio. I also really liked Kygo’s cover version of “What’s Love Got to Do With It.”
Is there anything you miss about performing?
No, it was a great time, but it’s in the past.
What is the last piece of music you listened to that moved you?
I am a Buddhist. I like the calming effect of Buddhist sounds. They make me realize every time anew that we are all one.
Are there any contemporary artists in the music world that excite you? If so, whom and why?
Oh my God! Of course! I could list dozens, but I would surely forget to mention some. That’s why I say: every art that touches people is unique.
Is Buddhism still a central practice in your life? If so, how has your relationship to it evolved over the years?
Last year I published the book Happiness Becomes You in which I write about my relationship with Buddhism. And that book made me realize once again how much I owe to my faith. I still chant every day. Chanting helps me to clear obstacles and live a calm life.
What is your favorite way to treat yourself these days?
I love to sit in my garden and listen to nature, take loving care of my plants. I also enjoy chatting with friends. Recently Cher came to visit. We gossiped and laughed a lot. We had a great time!
Your birthday is coming up next month. How do you plan to celebrate?
Haha, good question! I’d have to ask Erwin if he has anything planned. We’ll celebrate in a small circle, but certainly nothing big.
On that note, in retrospect, do you have a favorite past birthday? What was your favorite celebration? And what was the best gift given to you?
The most beautiful celebration was definitely my wedding with Erwin in 2013. It was beautiful to have the loved ones around. The greatest gift I have ever received? Erwin.
You’ve given countless interviews, written autobiographies, been the subject of movies, TV shows, documentaries, and, of course, a Broadway musical. Aside from your music, what has been your favorite way to share your story with your fans all over the world?
At the risk of disappointing you, nothing can top that energy of a concert. I really enjoyed every minute of it! I loved it!