Integrating into Spanish society is something many expats find difficult when first moving to the Costa del Sol. Many foreigners choose to live on the outskirts of Spanish life simply because they do not speak the lingo, but Tina Hall, a 46-year-old British singer is certainly not one of them.
Tina, who came to live on the coast almost 20 years ago, has not only integrated and learnt to speak Spanish; she is also currently taking part in one of Spain's most popular television talent shows.
Born in Nottingham, Tina began singing as a child and went on to perform regularly at the working men's clubs around the city. This was her introduction into the world of showbiz.
After a long career as a singer and actress in the UK, Tina moved to Alhaurín el Grande. It was a Spanish friend who, after hearing some of Tina's own compositions, suggested that she audition for La Voz, the Spanish version of the UK's popular television talent show, The Voice.
The first castings took place in Seville and there were several other stages before the first round, but Tina sailed through and ended up on the famous stage in Madrid last month.
Tina's performance of the Guns N' Roses hit, Sweet Child O' Mine, was broadcast on national television last week and she is now through to the 'battles' round, where she will compete against other contestants for a place in the third round.
Tina, one of only a few Brits to appear on the show, is part of the team fronted by Malú, the Madrid-born singer famous for songs such as Si Estoy Loca and Todas.
During a telephone interview with SUR in English, the bubbly singer explained that the experience was quite new for her, even though she has sung for best part of her life.
“It's really quite weird. I was very nervous, but this is good because it gets your adrenalin going. When you walk out on that stage and it's just you out there on your own, it is totally nerve-racking and you think, oh my god, but it is exciting at the same time.”
Tina has never been on a talent show before, although she is no stranger to the stage or television. Prior to coming to Spain, Tina appeared in two prime-time British soap operas. She had a long-running role in the Channel Five series, Family Affairs, and she also appeared in several episodes of the BBC 1 medical drama, Doctors.
Learning to speak Spanish was a priority for Tina, for she knew that to succeed in the world of entertainment in Spain, she would need to have a good understanding of the language; though she did not attend conventional lessons or online courses.
“A friend of mine said to me that the best way to learn Spanish is with children's educational books, and I thought that this was really interesting. It was like going back to school, to the basics, but it really worked,” Tina says, before bursting into laughter.
Tina found a good television agent in Spain and this secured her roles in two Spanish television series, but her true vocation in life is music.
“Music is in my blood and I couldn't get away from it, not that I would want to. There is no feeling like when walking on stage with a live band, that adrenalin rush when performing together, the crowd, the feeling you get when you connect to them, it's awesome,” the singer explains excitedly.
Tina has a deep interest in flamenco, especially Camarón de la Isla, and Paco de Lucía, who just happens to be the uncle of Tina's team captain in La Voz.
For Tina, the last twelve months have been spent locked in a recording studio preparing songs for her forthcoming CD.
“I'm a rock chick, but at heart, I love country music. I was brought up on it and my new album is a mixture of country and blues. This is keeping me busy and taking my mind off the next round of La Voz,” she says.
Tina will be travelling to Madrid next month for the next round of the show, but she claims she will not be disappointed if she does not make it to the finals .
“This has been such an amazing journey, I feel very blessed because I'm learning so much. Malú is just so awesome. It's all just so surreal; I still can't believe it is really happening.”