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October 25, 2009

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Shanghai lights a fire in jazz singer with soul

Catherine Lambert, a highly regarded cabaret singer, is widely recognized as a leading proponent of a soft and soulful style of jazz music.

She rarely fails to move an audience with her emotional performances and unique interpretation of timeless standards of the genre.

Born in Knutsford in the United Kindom, she grew up in Highstown, New Jersey in the United States, but later moved to South Australia when she was 15 and still calls Australia home.

Lambert has played in any number of bands and recorded some fine music since 1983.

But it would be too simplistic to categorize her as the accomplished musician she is because she also has done breakfast shift radio and reports on entertainment for television in Adelaide.

Her popularity increased when she sang in the movie "Lost in Translation."

Now she performs in clubs and festivals all over the world, and has accompanied with a large number of jazz masters such as Don Burrows and James Morrison.

Q: Is this your first visit to China and Shanghai?

A: Yes. I have traveled the world all of my life and China has always been on my "to do" list. The people are so polite and lovely, and I only wish I could have visited earlier in my career. I've enjoyed singing in Japan, Malaysia and Singapore and hope that I can return again as I feel I have much to offer in Shanghai.

Q: What are your impressions of this city?

A: Well, I can honestly say there is no place like it in the world. Shanghai is unique. You have such a rich and colorful culture and history. The very thought that I can come here and share my special brand of music with you is a huge honor and a privilege for me. Music is a universally powerful force and every culture has it's own music. Friends of mine told me how amazing the city is.

Q: What did you sing for Shanghai's jazz fans?

A: I performed the songs which made my heart soar, which have great meaning for me. Some are my own personal interpretations of jazz standards, others are reflections of my life. I tend to lean toward the pivotal points in my life, the catalysts for change, and the emotions they evoke at the time.

Q: What's keeping you busy now?

A: My life is full, rich and always very busy. Being a musician and mother of two beautiful children offers so many opportunities. Sometimes it's difficult to decide which direction to take. At the end of the day, I like to choose the path which is new to me, refreshing and challenging.

For me right now, that path is China. I can't wait to experience Shanghai and all it has to offer. A lot of my very good friends who kn Shanghai lights a fire in jazz singer with soul ow me well have said that

I'm going to love Shanghai as they have been there and loved it themselves.

Q: How did you settle on your current performing style?

A: Style is a difficult thing to define. In many ways as a musician you don't get to pick the style you play. The style picks you. I am comfortable with jazz and swing. I can rock and roll with the best of them if I want to, but jazz has always sat comfortably with me,

I was brought up on it by my pianist mother. She taught me all of the Gershwin and Porter tunes as a child. It's not about topping the charts or breaking new ground, it's about interpretation and delivery.

You can feel the mood in the room when you walk in. Sometimes it's set and everyone is ready to listen, at other times they need work. I feel that is when I come into my own. I love to work with the audience and really grab their attention. Once I've got that, I feel like I own them. For a few brief hours they are mine. It's like a power play. I love it. And I love to deliver and create movement.

Q: Do you prefer singing in a studio or on stage and why?

A: Studio work is challenging. You have to deliver the goods and make it all happen, but you don't get the energy to feed off what a live audience offers.

Pouring your soul out to a closed audience in a studio doesn't give you the same adrenaline boost that a receptive and responsive audience injects until you really have your act together where you can deliver from within.

There is no substitute for performing to a live audience. The feeling is indescribable.

Q: What are your plans for the near future?

A: I have a number of projects underway but I am always working on new and challenging things. There are some jazz blues fusion projects in progress but that is a difficult blend to get right. Lots of people try it, but very few get it right.

Aside from the swing/jazz, I am doing some really interesting work dealing with the serious social issues associated with Australia's indigenous population. Here we have a race of people who have inhabited the land for a hundred thousand years or more and lived in perfect harmony with nature.

They had no need for Western ideals, religion or culture, but in the last 200 years, white settlers have turned their entire culture upside down and inside out.

I'm also in the process of recording two new albums, one with the finest blues guitarist in Australia, Chris Finnen, and a recording of a live performance of my latest compositions at the very famous jazz club "Bennetts Lane" in Melbourne. All of these things really excite me and my creativity.


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