Dolly Parton and Keith Urban were among the stars who contributed to a compilation video of tributes that was played during Olivia Newton-John’s state memorial service in Australia on Sunday (Feb. 26.)
Along with stars like Mariah Carey, Elton John, Pink, Hugh Jackman and others, Parton and Urban expressed their love for Newton-John and shared memories of the late multi-genre star. In her speech, Parton also addressed the people of Australia, which was Newton-John’s home country.
“She’s one of your own. And as a country, you should be very proud and know that the whole world mourns with you,” the country legend reflected. “I had the honor of singing with her several times and I considered her a great friend, as well as a fellow entertainer. And Olivia, to quote one of your songs, ‘I Honestly Love You.’ Thank you for shining your light on us.”
Parton’s collaborations with Newton-John includes a joint re-recording of Parton’s classic “Jolene,” which turned out to be the final video of Newton-John’s life. “Jolene” was among Newton-John’s favorite songs.
Urban’s remembrance of the late star included his memory of the very first time they met, at a late 1990s songwriting retreat. “The first thing that struck me about her was, she was exactly as I imagined she’d be as a person,” he said. “No pretenses, no facade, just the real deal. Warm, friendly, kind, interested. Just a light, a real light.”
Newton-John was also tasked with introducing Urban onstage at a later event, which turned out to be the same night that he met his now-wife, actor Nicole Kidman. “And there she was, part of our very, very beginning. So for that and many more reasons, she’s always gonna play a very, very special role in our life,” he commented.
“But the really really extraordinary thing about Olivia is the legacy she’s left, not only in music, not only in film, but her humanitarian legacy is extraordinary. And that’s the kind of thing that will go on for generations and help millions and millions of people,” Urban added.
Kidman also spoke during the video tribute, speaking to the magnitude of Newton-John’s legacy both on the world as a whole and on her personally as a young aspiring artist. “I grew up with her, listening to her. I would perform her songs at school. I remember when I first saw Grease, I was like, ‘I wanna be Olivia Newton-John!’ So to be able to pay tribute to her tonight is incredibly important to us,” she explained.
At the state memorial itself, Newton-John’s husband John Easterling and her daughter Chloe Lattanzi both spoke, as did Delta Goodrem, who played the late star in the 2018 biopic series Olivia Newton-John: Hopelessly Devoted to You.
The service, which was held at Hamer Hall in Arts Centre Melbourne, was open to the public. It was also livestreamed, and will be available to watch through March 5.
Newton-John died on Aug. 8, 2022 at the age of 73, after a battle with breast cancer.