In her own unmistakeable voice, Kate Ceberano takes us on a very personal journey from her suburban childhood, her immersion in the Melbourne club scene of the eighties and her rise to stardom at the age of seventeen when she fronted the wildly popular funk band I'm Talking, to the life of a female performer and recording artist in London, Los Angeles and New York.
With parallel careers as a pop and jazz singer and songwriter, Kate has received the highest awards in the Australian music industry including the ARIA for Best Female Artist. She has delighted audiences in Harry M. Miller's hugely successful 'Jesus Christ Superstar', won a legion of fans when she won 'Dancing with the Stars', and made a triumphant debut for Opera Australia in 'South Pacific'. Now she reveals, for the first time, just what that was like.
People have been talking about Kate Ceberano since she was a teenager: Hugh Jackman described her as having 'truly one of the great voices this country has produced'; for Rolling Stone she is 'pure, soulful and powerful'. Now Kate is talking for herself.
Accompanied by never before published photos.
Musician Kate Ceberano has written many of her own songs throughout her career as a performer. In this book she turns her writing talent to telling her own life story. Co-author Tom Gilling is a respected journalist and acclaimed novelist whose books include The Sooterkin, a New York Times Notable Book, Dreamland and Seven Milk Beach.
Author: Kate Ceberano
Question: How did you know it was time to share your story?
Kate Ceberano: It's funny as I didn't consider whether it was -the right time'. It was the right thing to do because I'd had a gut-full of being written about (laughs) and created a certain way. I thought it was time for a deconstruction. Brett Whiteley, the artist, said 'when things seem a little too perfect, you've got to corrupt it". I've had an amazing career and I still continue to because of the people who helped me stay in the career, which is my family. My families' stories are so interesting to me and that is unique – I thought it would make a good article on what kind of an environment an artist needs to be able to keep being an artist.
Question: How did you fit all of your career highlights in one book?
Kate Ceberano: It's probably only one eighth of my life! There are so many things that I didn't talk about as I didn't want it to seem like a chronological study of a person's life but a profile of what it takes to survive an industry which has as many curves, dodgeballs, highs and lows; which is everything you'd expect from an industry that makes a lot of money and gains a lot of attention.
Question: Why was it important for you to be true throughout the entire writing process?
Kate Ceberano: I don't have it in me to be otherwise (laughs). I think you owe it to people to be honest and if you're going to go and commit to something like that, you'd be better to write it in your own hand than to have other people say it for you.
Question: Was it difficult reliving aspects of your life when writing I'm Talking?
Kate Ceberano: Yes, it was very difficult and there were times when I wondered if it was worth doing it as it was causing me anxiety. When you go back you have to revisit things that are unresolved and you often think you could have done better. You almost assume the position of being the teenager again instead of being the 40-something woman you are today and you sit and struggle with it. I often would have to tell myself to stop chewing over a dead bone and tell the story because others can gain and learn from the story. I wanted people to understand that it was better to peruse being yourself rather than trying to imitate others and it's better to listen, learn and watch experience than assuming that you're so mature that you can handle everything.
Question: What is one of the messages you hope readers take away from I'm Talking?
Kate Ceberano: There are a lot of stories that have a message that can assist others. I'm Talking is like a good drama – it's not like Walt Disney with a -happily ever after'. What I think people forget, in life, is that happiness is what you get for having overcome significant barriers, it's not a different state of mind that appears out of the blue; it's the work you've had to do to get it that makes you feel so happy about it.
There are interesting stories which go beyond my life as a musician. It's the people that have kept me in the business that are almost more interesting, to me, than what makes me an artist. The music is a small part of it but there are so many stories.
Question: How was the launch event for, I'm Talking?
Kate Ceberano: I'm continuing these and it's nice that most of the public that read books are literate, fair and genuinely interested in the book. The feedback has been really, really nice.
Question: What's next, for you?
Kate Ceberano: I am in the middle of preparing for the last year of my Adelaide Cabaret Festival directorship; we have 300 or so artists that come into the country, every year and I have to plan for them. I've already started the promotions for that and I hand over to Barry Humphries this year which is pretty exciting.
I am writing some music for a project.
Interview by Brooke Hunter