For many, Brighton Fringe is the home of many performers at the beginning of their career, hoping that their debut production will get them industry attention. At the Brighton Spiegeltent, however, international country music superstar, and former US Presidential candidate, Tina C will be kicking off the Fringe with a chance to catch her new show, Eating Country.
Tina took time out of her busy schedule running her international music and entertainment empire in America’s Deep South to talk to Glen Pearce ahead of her trip to the UK.
You’re bringing your show Eating Country to Brighton Fringe 6-7 May – what can festival goers expect?
What I wanted to do was share my food story with people, because food is important. You know, you have to eat it, apparently. I mean I didn’t for a long time, but apparently now it’s important to do that. Food is important politically, how it’s produced and how people buy it (or don’t buy it as they can’t afford it) and that kind of stuff, but mostly I wanted to sing some country music songs about food and cooking and more importantly do some live cooking on stage. Isn’t that beautiful?
So what will you be cooking for your audience ?
I’ll be cooking good ol’ fashioned Southern food. The kind of food we had when I was growing up – well, when we could afford it. Because it’s also about the poverty of my childhood.
Fellow Country Music legend Dolly Parton has brought out her Dolly’s Dixie Fixin’s cookbook – have you considered sharing your culinary skills in book form?
Oh yeah, I’m going to be turning the Eating Country into a cookbook and trying to tout it round as a TV show. People have been unkind and said that’s because my career isn’t working out, I mean I haven’t won a Grammy in six years, but it’s not that. It’s because I want to nurture people – as well as resurrect my career.
Nurturing is a strong theme in your work. Your autobiography,Herstory, is often held up as an inspirational text. Is that important for you?
When you’ve made it I think you have a responsibility to help other people up the ladder, rather than pulling up the ladder after you. I want people to achieve what I’ve achieved and to really make the best of themselves – as long as they don’t get in my way or stop me winning awards at the Country Music Awards, you know what I mean? I want to be seen as inspirational to people.
Do you also want people to also follow in your culinary footsteps, are you the new Delia Smith?
I think so! Because anybody can make cornbread and grits and all these wonderful things we had when I was growing up. Instead of just going to the Walmart they should just cook and look after the people in their lives. That’s what I’m all about, and if they can do it with Genetically Modified products, like we have in America, that would be just great. I think you over here in Europe should do that as well. You’ve got too many restrictions here, to many rules to stop people eating chicken washed in Chlorine – I mean what’s wrong with that? You should make food like we do back in America. You should all have mass produced, Genetically Modified, deep fried food like we do in America. It’s the American way, the endpoint of capitalism and it’s where we are now culturally and that’s the kind of love I want to spread.
Talking of spreading the American Way, sadly you were unsuccessful in your bid for the US Presidency – have you considered standing to give Donald Trump a run for his money?
Well, you know I feel an idea is only possible once somebody’s had it, right? Sometimes you’re just the person who has the ideas and other people do the execution – which is kind of difficult in this context to talk like that, you know – but would Trump be running if I hadn’t run in 2008 and 2012? The answer is no, OK. Does that mean I need to run again now? No. I had the idea and everybody else has followed on. Does that make sense?
Completely, you are an icon that people follow
Exactly, and just because I had the initial thought, now it exists. But I take no more responsibility for Donald Trump than that.
Going back to your childhood, you are one of 18 children. Have you ever thought of forming a family super group, perhaps along the lines of the Von Traps or the Osmonds?
Well a lot of my family perform at Tina City, my theme park, and we do daily shows there and a lot of my brothers and sisters perform in those. That’s the closest we get, and I don’t think we’ll get to perform all at the same time, not unless there’s a really big TV special, then we might be persuaded, but it would be complex emotionally, can we just say that.
So is your family a big fan of your cooking?
The thing is, and I mean this with a lot of love, I don’t really cook. Ok? So what I tend to do, I do something even better than the cooking, I inspire people to cook.
In this show, I will be inspiring the audience to do the cooking for me. I mean, I’ve always had staff, I became famous as a young person and had staff, so I think it’s more about empowering people to cook for themselves and the other audience members. What I’m telling you is, I don’t cook, I don’t eat, so I won’t be cooking for my siblings.
Country Music is having a resurgence in the UK, with the likes of Brad Paisley and Tim McGraw playing the O2 – what would you say to all those who say its nothing but songs about dogs dying or husbands leaving?
Well, they’re outta date for a start! You know, culturally I think it all shifted from my song Did I Shave My Legs for This? in the mid-90s,all the way through to my No Dick’s As Hard As My Life album. Those old fashioned country music clichés are just that – old fashioned country music clichés. County music is singing about real life – albeit mainly white, disenfranchised, working-class folk– those are the stories that need to be told. Well, for American people obviously. We love the rest of the world but we don’t need to tell your stories.
Is there another country star you’d like to duet with?
Like one of the younger people you mean?
Obviously, a lot of them look up to me as a role model and I love that and have a lot of respect. Kacey Musgraves is a personal favourite. She wrote a song for my Eating Country album, which I’m putting together, called Biscuit. I told her I loved the song, it has the line ‘make your own biscuit and life will be gravy’ which is something my grandmother used to say, and I think Kacey heard me say it so put it in the song. She wanted to give it to me for my album but I told her to keep it herself and she had a big hit with it. I would love to duet with Kacey, and she’d love it too, but our management are talking to each other.
What’s next for Tina C after Brighton?
We’re going to do the show in London while I’m over in the UK and then we’re going to take it worldwide and get it franchised. It will soon be on Russia Today and Aljazeera.
So there could be Tina C tribute acts?
There’s an act called Tina D which I do NOT endorse in any way, because it’s a man and I just don’t think that’s right. I think any imitation is flattery but I just don’t wanna watch it.
If Tina C was a flavour of Brighton Rock, what would it be?
I think it would probably be molasses, which is a classic southern ingredient, a real deep, rich southern flavour. Could you make me molasses? It’s intense, dark, complex, highly fattening and will probably line your arteries real quick. Probably a good embodiment of the American food! So if you can make me a molasses stick of rock I’ll gladly eat it – or really, I’d gladly pose for a photo with it and not eat it at all – that’s my relationship with food.
Tina C brings her Eating Country show to the Brighton Spiegeltent as part of Brighton Fringe 6-7 May 2016