Carmen Lundy: “The stage is where I live”

There’s something tangible about Carmen Lundy‘s voice; it’s as if, when she sings, you can almost catch the lyrics coming out of her mouth. This is the combined effect of a big, broad voice, a precise phrasing that gives weight – and meaning – to songs, and a long, winding career, that has seen the singer carry the torch of vocal jazz in a way that links her to the iconic voices of the past, and makes her an inspiration for the younger generation. Now the vocalist is spending a few nights in Melboune, at Bird’s Basement, and anyone interested in the art of song, should not miss her shows. Here’s what she says about it.

What should we expect from your Bird’s Basement shows?

I’m thrilled to share my original songs with Melbourne. I’ll be presenting mostly songs from my latest album, ‘Code Noir’ as well as originals from the previous two albums, ‘Soul To Soul’ andChanges.’ I may even throw in some of my own “classics”!

How does it feel, being on stage?

This is where I live. I’ve been performing onstage for the last 40 years. The fact that I’m still doing what I love is special.

If you could go back in time, what would you say to your teenage self?

I did exactly what I always wanted to do, so I would tell my teenage self that courage and truth go a long way.

You’ve had experience in gospel, opera, soul and jazz; how did all these elements affect your sound?

All these styles exist in jazz and improvisation. Having the classical background allowed me to have more vocal options. I had to distinguish myself as an artist, having grown up in the era of Ella and Sarah and Betty. I couldn’t do what they did as well as they did it, so I found my own voice, my own truth. I also started writing my own material and ended up performing my own songs.

You’ve also been a prolific, dedicated painter. How does this artistic endeavour complement your work as a musician? Does music translate to colour?

Absolutely. I’ve always been a visual person, and art gave me a quiet path to express my emotions without being on a stage. Art is my other creative outlet, and I find a lot of peace in it.

What does jazz mean to you?

Life, truth, vulnerability.

Which song best describes your current state of mind?

I would have to say ‘Live Out Loud’ from ‘Code Noir’.

Carmen Lundy performs at Bird’s Basement until Sunday 29 April