Sexy, sultry and down to earth, Melbourne’s own Kate Ceberano is performing at the Spiegeltent in Sorrento on March 13 and 14, the perfect intimate venue for the iconic songstress.
She’s been Australia’s high priestess of pop, an award winning jazz singer, a record breaking festival artistic director and hosted her own hit TV shows. She’s starred in acclaimed movies, won Dancing With The Stars but above all she is a songwriter with the talent to take a tune to the top of the charts.
Ceberano has released 24 albums over 30 years, 13 of them achieving platinum or gold sales and dozens of major awards, making her one the most prolific and awarded voices of her generation. In November, she was the first woman to be inducted into the Australian Songwriters Association Hall of Fame. Quite simply, Kate Ceberano is a bone fide Australian national treasure. And now she is heading to our own seaside town to woo audiences with her sultry style as only she can do.
“I was one of the first artists to play at the Spiegeltent in the city when it came to Melbourne and love that intimate cabaret style experience. Being a Melbourne girl, I’ve worked up and down the coastline since I was 14 and spent a good part of my misspent youth travelling up and down that area,” says Ceberano with a laugh. “I also ran a cabaret experience in Adelaide which was great. The smaller the venue, the more risk the artist takes. When you have a bigger crowd you have to run to a schedule. In a smaller venue like the Spiegeltent it’s like people want you to open up and reveal something you haven’t before.”
The consummate professional, Ceberano puts just as much gusto into every performance, whether it’s singing with an orchestra in front of thousands, doing a private show on an aircraft, or treading the boards of an intimate venue like the Spiegeltent.
With myriad credits, her soulful voice and exotic looks, the charismatic Ceberano keeps her feet firmly planted on the ground, and says she was overwhelmed with pride at becoming the first female songwriter inducted into the Australian Songwriters Association Hall of Fame.
“Being the first female songwriter inducted sets such a precedent for other women, as we are often known mainly as singers even though many of us actually pen our own songs. I always make sure I put my own penned work in,” says Ceberano, whose first song she wrote, Brave, went quadruple platinum when the young singer songwriter was just 18 years of age. “It proves one thing that remains true. You often have a theme as an artist, and my theme and the thing that interests me most is humanity and being able to help others to keep going. I use people as a motivation even as a teenager.”
For Ceberano, growing up in the suburbs of Doncaster, she always knew she wanted more, and couldn’t wait to discover the outside world.
“There was nothing happening in those days, and I knew I had to get out of there somehow. I could’ve become a hairdresser just as long as I got out,” she says remembering the Doncaster days when they would hang around the shopping centre for fun. Ironically, one of her major hits Pash was written many years later when reminiscing about the first kiss she had under the red glowing neon sign of Westfield Shoppingtown.
“I hit puberty and the whole shopping centre mentality was that’s where you went after school to hang out. You didn’t have any money like kids do today. It was actually really feral and I remember kissing some guy under the Westfield sign,” says Ceberano, who has always been known for her candour. “It was years later when I was living in LA at around 25, explaining to an American producer the meaning of colloquial words that the idea for the song Pash came to me.”
Three decades later, Ceberano’s interest in songwriting has not waned, nor has her refreshing honesty, which is intrinsically part of her charm.
“My inspiration for writing does change. Now where I am in terms of my humanness is slightly different. I am interested in setting markers and putting together ideas of where people are heading, and reflecting more the journey,” says Ceberano, explaining how motherhood has changed her songwriting and performing.
“Having my daughter Gypsy changed everything in my life. I had been having a midlife crisis when I was 32. I wanted to be a flamenco dancer, living in New York and dancing five hours a day like a maniac, completely in a wild Spanish life,” she says. “Then I woke up one day and realised the world doesn’t need another out of work flamenco dancer. When I made the decision to stop doing all that I fell pregnant, and it was exactly the right thing and changed everything. I went from being so egocentric and not knowing who I was. With children it gives you purpose. You kind of honour yourself in a way you haven’t before. It even made me a better musician because I became more perceptive, in the way your intuition turns on and tunes in when you hear your child crying.”
Ceberano fosters 11-year-old Gypsy’s love of music and art but points out how necessary it is to be responsible when you are instructing them on an entertainment life.
“She has a rad voice, an astonishing voice actually, but I have told her it’s important to understand about other areas of the arts as well. She is great at doing makeup for instance so I point out the careers she could have in that industry too,” says Ceberano, who is all too aware of the reality of children listening to their parents. “Hey but let’s face it, anything your parents tell you, you want to do the reverse. She will have her choices available to her and we’ll be there to help her through.”
It is Ceberano’s honest approach to life that has helped maintain a 20-year marriage to husband, director Lee Rogers.
“My husband and I started with a code and we always promised each other we would be really honest about things. At times that can be almost too painful but it is also the reason we stay connected. We are like Tetris, we just fit, and honesty and communication has been the key to our relationship. We are also very independent as people and it is the amount of time apart that has kept us together.”
With the release of her autobiography I’m Talking last year, this was another opportunity for the widely respected Ceberano to tell all about the ups and downs of her life and career.
“Writing the book was something I needed to do to put together my own history for my mother and my grandmother. It’s like the trinity of my own universe. You can speculate about what makes you ‘you’, but you just need to look at your parents to see that they are the people who formed who you are today,” says Ceberano, whose book is one of candid anecdotes and stirring personal stories.
Ceberano’s latest album Kensal Road is the culmination of a decade’s work since daughter Gypsy was born, and life changed forever for her and Lee.
“It has many travel songs like Magnet and Garden State, all the emotion attached to leaving and coming back to the family you love. It’s not what most people could endure, the distance and changes, but it’s a life we love and we do really well together. I think this album is very brave and different. It brings me back to life and in-step with the current appreciation of human expressiveness and musical integrity,” says Ceberano, whose timeless music continues to connect with people at a soul level.
Kate Ceberano will perform at the Spiegeltent Sorrento on Friday March 13 and Saturday March 14, 7pm and 9.30pm. For tickets go to Three Palms Box Office or call Ticketmaster 136 100 or see www.ticketmaster.com.au