Exquisite jazz singer, consummate diva and cabaret artiste Mama Alto has spent six years on the professional stage, honing her craft alongside her artistic collaborator, pianist extraordinaire Miss Chief. Together, their ever growing art has taken them from some of Victoria’s great jazz festivals including Stonnington Jazz and Marysville Jazz & Blues, to even more exciting and exotic stages such as their sold out performances at the Melbourne Recital Centre for the American Songbook Festival, and their award-winning turn in the Finucane & Smith tour to headline the Havana International Theatre Festival in Cuba.
With influences including American icons such as Billie Holiday and Sarah Vaughan, alongside less known but no less luminous talents such as Carmen McRae, Roberta Flack, former Supreme turned balladeer Mary Wilson, and New Zealand expat Bridgette Allen, Mama Alto’s sound remains idiosyncratic and unique, partly due to her luscious and gender transcendent voice which has drawn critical acclaim and audience admiration. Many of her more devoted fans pinpoint her political views and socially progressive ideals – particularly in the arenas of gender, sexuality, race, and mental health – as something that draws them in. When questioned about this, Mama laughs a bubbly cackle: “I often jest in the show: People come for the pretty music, but they stay for the sociopolitical analysis!”
There will be plenty of both the music and the message at the upcoming Melbourne Fringe presentation “Mama Alto: Extravaganza,” which sees Mama Alto and Miss Chief – both multiple time Fringe alumni – invited to perform a seven night season of poignant torch songs, stunning ballads and scorching blues tunes at the Fringe Hub in North Melbourne. We’ll let Mama have the final word: “It’s joyous and very special to me to be telling our stories and singing our own take on the standards we have tackled over the last few years to the Melbourne Fringe audience… Bringing everything we’ve seen, done and learned back to where we first started!”