She’s been Australia’s high priestess of pop, an award winning jazz singer, wears the hat of a fine artistic director and, above all that; Kate Ceberano is a songwriter with the talent to take a tune to the top of the charts.
On November 24th 2014 Ceberano will become the first Australian woman to be inducted into the Australian Songwriters Association (ASA) Hall of Fame. Joining such luminaries as Don Walker, The Easybeats, LRB and The Angels.
Time Out Melbourne got it right when they wrote “(the) first thing you notice about Ceberano is her energy, which actually sends the atoms crackling as she walks in the room. Flashing eyes, a ready roar, warm and funny – she’s your dream conversationalist”. Whether it is that soulful voice, her charismatic nature or exotic looks: Kate is captivating. Over a thirty four year period she’s earned her ‘Australian icon’ status.
A woman widely respected across various mediums, Kate as a singer has gathered numerous awards: as well as occasionally lighting up our big and small screens (Dancing with the Stars, Who Do You Think You Are? and Getaway), she is also well known for her charity work. Then there was her award winning performance in South Pacific and the penning of her acclaimed autobiography I’m Talking. She counts motherhood to daughter Gypsy as her biggest achievement yet.
Kate first found fame with her funk band I’m Talking. I’m Talking are acknowledged as the band “who pioneered New York-style art pop in Australia during the Jurassic Period of Pub Rock”. The group was managed by Ken West, now famous for being co-founder of the Big Day Out. The group’s ‘platinum’ debut album included three top ten singles and won the Best New Talent (1984) gong at the Countdown Awards. Kate followed that up the following year with the award for Best Female Vocalist (1985). Kate won Best Female Singer (1985) at the Australian Record Industry Association (ARIA) Awards. After such an auspicious debut album, the group broke up and Kate went solo. It was here, in the late 80s, that Ceberano earned a formidable reputation for her soul, jazz and pop repertoire. Quite rightly radio labeled her as having “one of the greatest voices our music industry has ever produced”.
Kate’s first solo album was the live recording Kate Ceberano and Her Septet (1987). Her following platter You’ve Always Got The Blues (1988) earned her an ARIA Award for Best Female Artist (1988). A year later, she won another ARIA for Best Female Artist (1989), as well as one for Highest Selling Single (1989) for Bedroom Eyes from her triple platinum effort, Brave. At the end of 1990, Ceberano received three prestigious MO Awards for Jazz Performer, Female Rock Performer and Contemporary Concert Performer of the Year.
In 1992, Kate hit the stage to perform the role of Mary in Jesus Christ Superstar. The show, which had a star-studded cast which included John Farnham, toured nationally, and the album was the biggest hit of the year – earning four times platinum status. In 1993 Kate won the Logie Award for Most Popular Music Video for ‘Everything’s Alright’.
Kate followed this success with her own late-night cabaret-style show on ABC TV simply dubbed Kate Ceberano And Friends (1993-1994), the album from which went Gold. In 1996 Kate released her next solo album Blue Box, which also went Gold and saw her nominated for another Best Female Artist at the
ARIA’s. In 1997 Kate wrote and released what has become an Australian pop classic – Pash. A gorgeous slice of three-minute pop, the song went Platinum and established Kate as one of our leading female songwriters. The subsequent album shot to #5 in the ARIA charts. Richard Wilkins of the Today Show simply referred to her as “Australian Music Royalty”.
The next decade saw Ceberano continue her relentless creative production with her renown versatility. Another 7 albums, many tours, starring in movies, winning Series 6 of the hit Dancing With The Stars and hosting many other television programs. Her sell out national Nine Lime Avenue theatre tour saw a Helpmann Nomination for Best Contemporary Concert and another Platinum album.
In 2009 Kate released a new album Bittersweet, which was built on a shared musical connection with Mark Isham, for which she received another ARIA Nomination… this time for Best Jazz Release. The album was based on the pair’s mutual love for “broken-hearted love songs” from the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s”. In 2009 Kate also released the seasonal LP Merry Christmas, which included a duet with Ronan Keating and achieved Gold status. Her achievements now included five Platinum albums, five Gold albums and over 1.5 million albums sold in Australia alone.
Like many high-profile musicians, Kate Ceberano uses her celebrity to support and bring awareness to many causes close to her heart; for many years Ceberano has been an Ambassador for the National Breast Cancer Foundation. This role sees Kate help raise funds and awareness about an illness that affects so many lives.
“I like to be as involved as I possibly can in causes I feel strongly about,” Ceberano said of her appointment. “Yes I am a musician, but if I can do more to help others then I will.”
In 2012 Kate Ceberano took the reins at the helm of the Adelaide Cabaret Festival as Artistic Director. In her first year in the role, the Festival broke the record for most tickets sold and Kate received wide scale recognition from her peers for curating the best Adelaide Cabaret Festival yet! She followed that with even greater success in 2013 and 2014: culminated in a stunning 30% increase in box office sales in just three years. 2013 also saw the festival receive the prestigious Ruby Award for Contribution to Arts and Culture in South Australia.
Always eager for a challenge, 2012 saw Kate join the cast of South Pacific, which won Best Production Of A Musical at the Sydney Theatre Awards (2013). Kate, who received critical acclaim for her portrayal of Bloody Mary, earned a nomination for Best Supporting Actress.
In 2013, Kate recorded a new album of original material, Kensal Road, at Kensaltown Studios, London. The Daily Telegraph’s Kathy McCabe was moved to write “Kensal Road fits perfectly in the pocket of dreamy folk pop that has captivated the airwaves for the past couple of years”. McCabe called Ceberano “a true original” while Cameron Adams reminded us “in case you’d forgotten, that voice is still something special.”
The Daily Telegraph went on to say: “There is something undeniably mighty about Kate Ceberano. The singer has always been a fascinating character in the Australian rock industry. Luminous and vibrant, she has, since the age of 19, exuded the kind of confidence that eludes most Australians — men and women alike. She glows in a room and it’s not just because she has a great big smile, a great big personality and a great big voice; it’s something unfathomable that suggests a power that emanates from some place far deeper, beyond our understanding.”
2014 marked Kate’s final year at the Adelaide Cabaret festival. She has left the event in its’ best shape ever. With 35 sold out shows and 45,000 tickets sold, Kate remarked: “It has been such a joy collaborating with clever designers, administrators, musicians, artists and production crews in and around the Adelaide Festival Centre during my tenure as Artistic Director. I have watched and fraternised with people from all over the world while staying in the one precinct! This is my favourite festival in the world, the best job I’ve ever had, in the most beautiful city in Australia. Au revoir for now.”
In April 2014, Kate released her autobiography, the aforementioned, I’m Talking. The Daily Mail noted that I’m Talking documented “the milestones in the iconic jazz and pop singer’s life”. At the same time she was also nominated for the Instyle Women of Style Awards in the Arts & Culture category.
23 albums over 30 years makes Ceberano the most prolific Australian female artist of this era. Her work, her craft and her vision are now imbued in our collective DNA. Kate Ceberano is a bone fide national treasure, possessing one of the great voices of her generation. Long may she run.