Before she was even a teenager, singer Markeeta Little Wolf was entertaining crowds Down Under with her powerful voice.
But after 16 years on stage and TV in Australia and then Los Angeles, the Waitsburg woman's life took a different path.
Now she's ready to step back into the spotlight after a 25-year absence to perform Oct. 29 with an old Tri-City friend, Steve Haberman, at the piano.
The show, which she glibly titled, The Bitch is Back, is at the Plaza Theatre in downtown Waitsburg and features Haberman, as well as Trish Thompson and Cathy Kelly of BlueZette providing backup vocals.
Little Wolf, 53, says the show's title is typical of her irreverent Australian upbringing.
"A sassy nature is typical of being an Aussie, a self-deprecating kind of humor," she said. "But believe it or not, I have been referred to by that term a time or two. Once in a council meeting during an open session."
Little Wolf, who also happens to be the former mayor of Waitsburg, made a name for herself in the entertainment industry in Australia long before she ever set foot on American soil.
"I was born to sing," she said. "It's a family trait."
Her father was the legendary showman Big Chief Little Wolf who wrestled in Australia in the 1950s.
"I grew up in a carnival atmosphere where everyone was a performer," she said. "So performing became natural for me."
Little Wolf has been singing professionally since age 12 at venues across Australia and New Zealand. She eventually sang her way onto the Australian TV show Showcase, was featured on the cover of magazines like Australian Post, then cut an album and started touring. And all that while still a teenager.
At age 17, she made the trek to Hollywood for a short engagement at the renowned Palomino Club.
"I really wasn't supposed to be in the club because I was underage, but I'd do my show, then my mother would hustle me out of there," she said.
Little Wolf's father, a Navajo, had a stroke in the 1960s and wanted to move back to his homeland. So, the family moved to Los Angeles permanently when she was 22. Her father died in 1980.
"I sang mostly in cabaret clubs, and that's where I met Steve," Little Wolf said.
The two hit it off and continued to perform shows together. But Little Wolf never quite found the success in Los Angeles that she did in Australia.
So at age 28, she retired from performing and moved to Washington in 1992. Haberman followed but soon discovered small town living wasn't quite his cup of tea. Instead of returning to Los Angeles, he settled in the Tri-Cities.
"When the Rodney King thing happened in L.A., it just got a little too scary for me and my mother," Little Wolf said. "I had worked in real estate for a while between gigs and was able to save a lot of money. Both my mother and I wanted to live in a small town where we felt safer.
"I have a brother who lives in Hermiston and I always liked Walla Walla. But when we got here, even Walla Walla seemed too big. I knew Waitsburg was the place the minute we drove into town."
She ended up marrying a local attorney and was mayor from 2007-10.
But all that's ancient history now, Little Wolf said with a laugh.
"I've no doubt I've one more show in me," she said. "Besides, Steve's been bugging me for a long time to do something with him again. And, here we are."
The Oct. 29 show will be packed with Broadway, pop, gospel and big ballad tunes, she said. "It'll sort of be a musical story of my life."
Showtime is 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 and available at Ted Brown Music off North Columbia Center Boulevard or call 509-520-5486.
*Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; email@example.com