April 11, 2014 at 9:45 AM ET
Olivia Newton-John is thrilled to finally be opening her "Summer Nights" residency in Las Vegas, but as she told TODAY Friday, there was a very necessary yearlong delay in getting her there: the loss of her sister.
"I was supposed to start here a year ago, and I couldn't sing," she said, talking about how her sister Rona's death from a brain tumor in 2013 forced her to put her career on pause. "Which was the first time for me that I ever thought that I couldn't sing."
Time healed her wounds, though, and eventually the veteran singer and actress (known for her roles in movies such as "Grease" and "Xanadu") decided she could return to the stage. Her show at the Flamingo Hotel and Casino opened on April 8, and runs through the end of August.
"It's a life journey through my music," she explained. As for Vegas itself, "It's a fun place to be and it's the place everyone wants to be now, you know, as an entertainer."
And her fans are everywhere. TODAY's Natalie Morales noted that "I used to skate around my apartment and sing 'Xanadu' songs."
Proceeds from the performances will go to Newton-John's cancer and wellness center in Australia. The 65-year-old singer, who herself is a breast cancer survivor, said she feels her sister's energy pushing her to go on.
"I feel she wants me to do it," said Newton-John. "She always wanted me to sing, always encouraged me from when I was 15 to do that. So here I am, and yeah, it's going to be special."