Kate Miller-Heidke has a voice that is instantly recognisable; whether it’s while singing the fabulously quirky and thought-provoking pop song ‘Caught in the Crowd’, to the glorious ballad ‘The Last Day On Earth’ to angst-ridden love songs with titles like ‘Lose My Shit’. Sustaining a long term career in the music industry, Kate has a diverse repertoire and the ability to seamlessly transition from one genre to the next.
“It is hard to keep a career going, especially as a women where you’re in your 30s. Nobody particularly wants to hear what you have to say as a pop singer, but I think that something I’m grateful for, is how my musical background has allowed me to have my fingers in different pies and I’ve been lucky enough to have been let into different worlds, the world of orchestral music, opera composing and musical theatre,” Kate explains. “I love pop music, but as I get older I find myself embracing all of the music that is part of my background, and I do love theatre, there’s something really intoxicating about it.”
Classically trained, the award winning Australian singer-songwriter delved back to her roots in March this year, performing with The Sydney Symphony Orchestra (SSO) at The Sydney Opera House. This resulted in her latest album, Live at the Sydney Opera House; a sweeping live representation of her vast catalogue of hits and fan favourites presented with a symphonic spin.
“It really was a pinch myself kind of moment, all those orchestral shows but particularly with the SSO at the Opera House – it was crazy, outlandish fantasy,” Kate reflects. “I didn’t quite believe it was happening at the time so I’m actually glad we have the CD documentation… I thought that it would be crazy not to record these orchestral shows.
“It took a long time to get the whole show together,” Kate continues, “We’ve got the work of so many incredible arrangers on there so just trying to match each arranger with each song and choosing the songs to do was a big process, and then checking the arrangements and changing them as we went along but I’m so happy with the point that we got to with those SSO shows and the album is something I’m really proud of.”
Not only has she won the International Songwriting Competition (‘Caught in the Crowd’) and a Helpmann Award for Best Australian Contemporary Concert, both of which sit pretty alongside her four albums, but Kate has even dived into the world of musicals with collaborator (and husband) Keir Nuttall, in composing the music and lyrics for Muriel’s Wedding: The Musical which premiered at the Sydney Theatre Company in November this year.
“We had an immense feeling of responsibility; we know how special and how precious it is to so many people, and how precious it is to Australia in general. I hope, we did justice to it,” she says. “It’s different though, there’s a reason why we turned it into a musical, to really dig deeper into some of the themes and the characters and the fact that it’s stretched into the modern era, there was so much fun and freshness in that.”
Now the stunning vocalist is bringing her classically-trained vocals and alternative pop sounds to venues around the country in early 2018, including a stop at regional Bendigo, armed with an incredible set of brand new arrangements and backed by The String Quartet.
“This is kind of an extension of the orchestral show idea, Iain Grandage who I first worked with on The Rabbit Opera, he has done a lot of the quartet arrangements and re-invented the songs in amazing ways and just discovering things in the songs that I had forgotten were even there, or never knew were there,” she says. “We’re going to do a mixture of back catalogue stuff and new stuff, there’ll be a couple of songs from The Rabbit, and a song from Muriel’s Wedding as well.”
When & Where: Ulumbarra Theatre, Bendigo – February 23 & Wangaratta Pac, Wangaratta – February 24.
Indulge in a flashback with the pop track below.
Written by Talia Rinaldo