A Cork performer has revealed she is taking care of unfinished business for the late music legend Tina Turner following a personal request from the icon several years ago.
Internationally-renowned performer and Cobh native Rebecca O’Connor — who is the only Tina Turner tribute act in the world to have been endorsed by the celebrity —said she is still reeling after hearing about the superstar’s death on Wednesday night.
The 48-year-old was eating out in a restaurant with her keyboard player and manager when the heartbreaking news broke, confirming that Turner had passed away at the age of 83 following a long battle with illness.
Tributes for the iconic ‘Simply the Best’ singer have poured in from around the globe, including from fellow artists, former US presidents, and many, many more.
Turner’s passing comes just a few years after Rebecca’s manager Denis played an audio recording of one of Rebecca’s performances for the singer.
Turner was astounded after mistaking Rebecca’s vocals for her own. She passed on a message for her asking Denis to “tell Rebecca to keep my music alive”.
Turner’s words now carry more weight for Rebecca than they ever did before and serve as a poignant reminder of the responsibility she has to bear to honour the icon’s legacy.
Rebecca, who has performed sold-out shows across Australia, South Africa, and Europe, told The Echo that Turner has always been so much more to her than just a performer.
Adopted as a baby, Rebecca recalled how she had never seen another person of colour until Turner exploded onto her family’s television set.
The Cork woman’s father had called Rebecca downstairs to see the singer on television.
Back then, Rebecca never realised how life-changing that moment would be.
“The first thing I said to my mum when I saw her was ‘she looks a bit like me, doesn’t she?’
“Seeing her on the television changed my life,” said Rebecca.
“When I got older, it was all short dresses and my mum’s high heels. I used to sneak out in them through the window. I still have the short dresses. The only difference now is I can leave through the front door.”
Rebecca explained how Turner was introduced to her work.
“My manager Denis managed Fleetwood Mac. Every so often, when they were on the road, he would meet with Tina’s manager Roger.
“Denis sent over a CD to Tina and she said I was so good it was ‘scary’. She said that if she had my energy she would have still been touring.”
The proud Cork native says she will remain forever grateful to Turner.
“I am so grateful for what she has given me. She has been such an inspiration. There hasn’t been a day that’s gone by where I haven’t thought of her and how she’s influenced my life,” said Rebecca.
“If it wasn’t for her, I would never have become a singer.
"I lost myself during covid and it made me realise this is what I was always meant to be in life.”
The remainder of her tour will likely be bitter-sweet for Rebecca, she explained.
“I don’t think it will really hit me until I get in front of the mirror to do my make-up before I go on stage in Kilkenny,” she said.
“I’m looking forward to doing what I do best and keeping her music alive. The performances are just going to get more powerful.”
Rebecca will perform tonight on the Kilkenny leg of her Simply the Best tour. She will perform on June 10 in Cork Opera House.
For the full list of tour dates check out www.rebeccaoconnorsimplythebest.com.