It was late 1995 when I flew over to London for the very first time. I was 27 years old.
I'd spent so much time in Australia and the USA I'd never managed to get to London before this, surprising really; it's much closer geographically to my Sicilian heritage that I feel so connected to.
I'd always dreamt of visiting the motherland, the Commonwealth's headquarters, and when it finally happened I was so excited.
My entry into the UK came through my music; it was a work trip, not a holiday but it was still a thrill. I had established my career in Australia and now the music was starting to spread internationally.
I had been on Australian TV for 20 years by the time I visited the UK, which sounds extraordinary, but I did start my TV career at age 7 on the Aussie version of the Mickey Mouse Club.
It's pretty much the longest flight in the world but after 24 hours I'd landed and was met by my very British chauffeur Reggie who collected me, my manager and a record label representative. "I only drive stars in this car," I remember Reggie saying to me. For some stupid reason I believed him!
Not that I thought I was a star by any stretch of my imagination, but I believed that the car I was in, must have driven everyone. If only seats could talk.
I was swept away by the architecture; all monuments and landmarks that were familiar to me: Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace. Places I had seen in books and on television, these British icons now right in front of me. The next 3 years were spent promoting in and out of the England, Wales and Ireland.
If Reggie or anyone had told me that within a few years I'd have Gold albums here and perform lead roles on London's West End I'd have probably laughed and laughed. I had no idea the UK was going to embrace me so whole-heartedly.
The people whose paths I crossed remain fond in my mind. I met some brilliant characters along the way and also felt a connection to the British way of life and sense of humour. I felt at home.
In 2003 after constant travel around Europe, my French partner and I decided to move to the UK. We lived between Fulham and Clapham. Our time living there was peaceful and friendly. It was also a time of growth & transition. The next few years were spent discovering and travelling in and out of England and France, where my musical career was experiencing a healthy ascend. I somehow managed to have hit songs on the French music charts (God only knows how that happened: an Aussie girl, whose first language was Italian - singing in French!)
Falling pregnant in 2005 forced both Vincent and I to rethink things. Being far away from both of our families didn't make a lot of sense. We both decided that the best place to give birth to Gabriel was in Paris, close to family and friends. My family was back in Australia. I do remember being homesick and pinning for my parents and two sisters. It wasn't easy at the time. I was still working right up until 2 weeks before I gave birth.
My last TV show was with Bernadette Chirac, the former French President's wife. She seemed somewhat concerned due to my size that my waters may have broken on national television during a telethon. Frankly, I was fine and having a good time, radiating life.
I focused on my French language albums and my family and my new life in France. In terms of my music, I felt the timing wasn't right to release a new original English record.
The global financial crisis was hitting and piracy was rife, the digital music age had arrived and everything felt quite unsettled for me; "duck for cover" was the word on the street and on people's lips! I'd also just given birth to my son Gabriel and needed to focus on him. To be honest I also needed some time for myself, although my European career was still in its early stages, I'd been performing solidly since the age of seven.
I felt tired and personally I thought a lot of the pop music was predictable and creativity had been sucked away. So I decided to do my first concept album, titled Love & Loss. It was a collection of songs that had inspired me growing up. I had felt a little post natal depression and after a brief time-out, performing was my saviour during that period. I ended up touring the album with an orchestra, performing on-stage with up to 80 musicians every night. It was a magical time but I would stress so badly wondering about how I was going to combine being a mother, a performer and partner to my lover. Luckily for me, he held my hand all the way, reassuring me and us every step of the way. Somehow we get can all get through anything, we are very resilient.
These orchestral shows and the success of the Love and Loss project gave me the drive and impetus to record original English material again. I'd devoted so much time to my career in France, where my two French albums had been so well received: I was even awarded an Order of Merit, a French Knighthood by Nicolas Sarkozy and Frederic Mitterrand. I decided it was time. And that brings us to now.
My new album Reset, the first collection of original songs in English I've made since 2003 was released this week in the UK. I was thrilled at the reaction to the record in Australia, where it became one of the biggest selling albums of 2013, something I never expected. I made the album on my own terms, and it's special that people have reacted in the way they have. I took the record on tour in Australia this year, and here you can see an exclusive little clip of one of my new songs Out Of The Blue performed live.
I've always loved London. I feel it's time to reconnect with its culture and the people. And see my audience again after all this time. Personally, I think London has evolved more than most European cities, it's really one of, if not the most dynamic cities in the world - the artistic community is so eclectic, the food is amazing and the multi-cultural energy is second to none. It's been a long time between drinks (as we colloquially say in Australia) but I'm looking forward to performing there again and reconnecting with a very loyal and diverse community.
Reset is out now