Cathrine Summers: My Songlines

Born in England and based in Perth, Cathrine Summers is the quintessential cosmopolitan singer – you know the type, the one that seems to have always been wearing evening gowns and jewellery as sparkling as her voice, as elegant as her rendition of the great American songbook, the one the great jazz singers taught us. Now she has recorded her own tribute to these great jazz singers – or, in particular, to her own idols, Ella Fitzgerald, Dinah Washington and Anita O’ Day – adding a bit of her own freshness to songs that will live in eternity. This weekend, Cathrine Summers is in Melbourne and before she hits the stage of the Paris Cat, she took a moment to share some of the music that shaped her world.

What was the first album or single that you ever acquired?

I absolutely LOVED The Mamas & the Papas when I was younger and their ‘Monday Monday’ and ‘Dream A Little Dream’.

at that time didnt know it was a cover of Ella’s, though.

What was the most recent album or track that you purchased?

I mostly listen to Spotify, so that’s a tricky one to answer – but thinking more about it, I’ve been asked if I’d perform for an extremely special occasion coming up and they would like the song ‘Cabaret’ by Liza Minelli and want it performed with a backing track, so I purchased the backing track to that song.

I’m going to be performing it with my six-piece band and my IT Girls AU dance ensemble for Hot Summers Jazz Cabaret, a show series coming up for the Fringe World Festival in Perth next February.

Which song should be on everyone’s collection?

‘What A Difference A Day Makes’ by Dinah Washington – or my version, hahaha.

Although I’ve recently been re-listening to a LOT of Burt Bacharach and ‘Walk On By’ is right up there.

Which song reminds you of the best concert you’ve ever attended?

‘High and Dry’, the Radiohead song, but Jamie Cullum’s version. It reminds me of V Festival on day one in Chelmsford in the UK circa 2005, when I first stumbled across him The sun was shining – a tinsy bit rare in the UK – and the song was an incredible jazz version of the epic Radiohead song.

Which song reminds you of your favourite journey?

My favourite journey is life – bit heavy, I know – and I reckon ‘The Best Things In Life Are Free’ is a massive favourite.

Which song best describes your relationship to your loved ones?

‘Feel So Close’, by Calvin Harris it talks about “Feeling so close to you right now and I wear my heart on my sleeve and your love pours down on my like a waterfall and there’s no stopping us right now” a massive reminder of being really connected and close to your loved ones and how empowering that is.

Which song best encapsulates your idea of jazz?

Wow, it soooo depends on what genre of jazz you are talking of. Do you chose a Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Chet Baker, Miles Davis, Gretchen Parlato, Norah Jones, Jane Monheit

The question is too hard but if I HAD to pick one

Ella Fitzgerald’s version of ‘HowHigh The Moon’ is probably what ‘wowed’ me the most – or her version of ‘Sunny Side of The Street’, because of the mastery of her incredible vocals.

In a time when it was so tough to be an African American female in a heavily male industry and racial country she rocks! Show them, girlfriend.

Which song best describes your current state of mind?

‘I Feel Good’ by James Brown

There’s just so much to be grateful for everyday.

UPDATE: Cathrine Summers will present her Ella, Dinah, Anita album live at the Paris Cat on Friday 9 November; she will perform her french songbook tribute ‘A Summers Night in Paris’ on Sunday 14 April 2019.