CONTENT: American-born singer Toni Childs has found happiness and health living near Byron Bay with her Australian husband Mik Lavage.TONI Childs never intended to become a musical spokeswoman for domestic violence. It wasn’t like she had experienced abuse from a partner first hand when she wrote her emotional songI’ve Got To Go Now in 1991.

It was a time when domestic violence was generallytabooand often lockedbehind closed doors.

Yet 25years after the ARIA top-five track’s release, Childs is still regularly stopped by people who sharetheir personal stories ofhow the song provided them with the inspiration and strength to escape a destructive relationship.

“I never realised I was writing an anthem for domestic violence, but I’ve met somany people who’ve said,‘my mum left because of that song, thank you’ or ‘I didn’t have the courage to leave my husband and you helped me do that’,” Childs says.

“It was the song I was the least connected to. I wrote the story, but it wasn’t my story. But it’s lived on and it’s huge all over the world, but here particularly.”

I’ve Got To Go Now off Childs’ second album House Of Hope was actually about her own personal addiction to pain at the time.

They were halcyon days for the Californian blues-rock musician. Childs’ debut album Union in 1988, featuring the songs Stop You Fussin’ and Don’t Walk Away, was a critical smash and earned her two Grammy nominations.

Toni Childs – I’ve Got To Go NowYet Childs says not everything was soaring in the life of the singer with the distinctand powerful gospel voice.

“We can all get in these cycles when we’re doing stuff that’s not good for us,” she says.“It can be anything from drinking to staying in an abusive relationship or a job we don’t like.

“Where we have critical self-talk, where we aren’t our best friend. There’s different ways these shame addictions can eat up our lives through our relationship with the world. I was feeling that and seeing it in myself.

“My story didn’t have a very good visual, but this had such a great visual. So it made it very easy to relate to and the chorus ‘I’ve got to go now/and I’ve got to say goodbye’was about stopping and coming to the end of the road where you’re really going to make that change.”

Toni Childs Union, House Of Hope and The Woman’s Boat.

One hit Childs won’t perform is her 1989 cover of Jimmy Cliff’sMany Rivers to Cross.

“I made an announcement I wouldn’t be doing that song anymorea couple of years ago,” she says.“It’s a really sad song for me to sing with my bleeding heart all over it that I’m going to lose my man.

“I don’t think that’s a very good affirmation to be making.”

Following the greatest hits tour, Childs will embark on her boldest touring project yet –a regional run of shows to support her 2015 art-pop album It’s All A Beautiful Noise. The shows are a music-driven 3D contemporary art experience, featuring colourful animal animation projectedonthe walls of the theatre.

“It’s an immersibleplay date, but it’s also a concert,” she says.“We need good stuff that’s more fun. We’re knocking down that third wall.”

Toni Childs performs separate lunch and dinner shows at Lizotte’s on July 16.