"But I didn't know that I would be able to make a career of it. But I'm very grateful that I could," she said during a telephone interview from California where she has lived since the early 1970s.
Newton-John will perform at 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23, at H. Ric Luhrs Performing Arts Center on the campus of Shippensburg University in Shippensburg, Pa.
"(The audience) should expect singing," she said with a hearty laugh, her familiar Australian accent still prominent. "It's really a little journey in music," she said of the show.
In all, she had 10 No. 1 singles amongst the pop and country charts in the 1970s and '80s, including, "I Honestly Love You," "Have You Ever Been Mellow," "Please Mr. Please" and "Come on Over."
Newton-John was born in England, but moved with her family to Australia at the age of 5. Her career in the United States began in the early 1970s, when she saw success on the country charts, after a manager thought country-folk music suited her voice well. "Thank goodness for (him)," she said.
"Let Me Be There," was her first top 10 single. She was named Most Promising Female Vocalist by the Academy of Country Music and won a Grammy for Best Country Vocalist. In 1974, she was named the Country Music Association's Female Vocalist of the Year, beating out the likes of Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton and Anne Murray.
All this came before she was propelled to superstardom in 1978 for playing Sandy Olsen opposite John Travolta's Danny Zuko in the mega hit movie version of the musical, "Grease."
Newton-John said before "Grease," she had roles in two other movie musicals. In 1965, her first role was in "Funny Things Happened Down Under," and in 1970, she appeared in "Toomorrow," (sic) a comedy/science fiction/musical. She said neither movie was successful.
"I was really anxious about making ‘Grease,' because I'd already made two bomb musicals. I guess I had a lucky third," she said.
Later, she starred with Gene Kelley in "Xanadu," which spurred soundtrack hits with the title track and "Magic." She had the biggest hit of her career in the early 1980s with the album "Physical," and its title track.
In 1992, Newton-John was diagnosed with breast cancer, and since her recovery remains committed to fundraising and advocating for early diagnosis and a cure for breast cancer.
In June, after raising some $200 million, she opened The Olivia Newton-John Cancer & Wellness Centre in Heidelberg, a suburb of Melbourne, Australia.
"(The process) was arduous and exciting," she said. "I just believed it would happen. I didn't know how it would, and I didn't know how long it would take. But it took 10 years from when we first started fundraising until the doors opened. And this year, the second half of the hospital and the wards open, so it's very exciting."
In 2005, she also opened Gaia Retreat & Spa in Byron Bay, New South Wales, Australia, to promote health and provide a place for healing and relaxation.
"My (spa) is very, very successful," she said. "We've won many, many awards and I'm very proud of that."
In concert, though, she said she performs music from throughout her 40-plus-year career, including her early country hits, soundtrack music and songs from "Gaia," her album of reflection recorded after she battled breast cancer, and a healing CD, "Grace and Gratitude: Renewed," which she released in 2010.
Newton-John said her fanbase and concert audience are "very mixed."
"When I do my shows, there are little kids 9 years old, and their grandparents are with them. So I think it's very interesting for me, that a) they still come, and b) that there's such a wide range of people," at the shows, she said.