Kat Edmonson
Gig Seeker Pro

Kat Edmonson

Austin, Texas, United States

Austin, Texas, United States
Band Jazz Pop

Calendar

This band hasn't logged any future gigs

This band hasn't logged any past gigs

This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos

Music

Press


"Lyle Lovett Sings Praises for Texas Singer"

Thumbs up for Kat Edmonson

Lyle Lovett sings praises for the Texas singer.

April 24, 2010 - 1:12 PM

Versatile Texas troubadour Lyle Lovett has recorded duets with Al Green, Rickie Lee Jones, Randy Newman and Shawn Colvin, among others. Lovett, who performs May 8 at the Pacer benefit at the Minneapolis Convention Center, recently duetted in concert with Kat Edmonson, his favorite new Texas singer. Lovett said of Edmonson:
"She's a really charming jazz singer. She books herself, she does all her own business, she does get out of Austin [Texas] occasionally. She makes her living doing gigs of primarily standards, but she writes as well, and she has a really nice voice.

"I invited her to sing with me when we played Austin. We did 'Baby, It's Cold Outside,' and she pulled me through it. And I saw her the Sunday before last at a Nobelity Project fundraiser where they honored Willie Nelson and she did a Willie song, 'It Will Always Be,' and just stopped the crowd."
Jon Bream - Star Tribune


"Kat Edmonson: SXSW Interview 2010"

Critics reference diverse artists from Bjork to Billie Holiday when describing Kat Edmonson. While flattering, these comparisons don't paint an accurate picture. She's a jazz artist with a jones for genre-defying tunes and a voice that at times exudes the raspy confidence of a veteran soul singer, and other times recalls the coquettish quality of a silver screen starlet.

A native of Austin, Edmonson won't have to travel far to take part in this year's SXSW. Spinner caught up with Edmonson to chat about her sound, her plans for surviving the party, and late-night talk radio.

Describe your sound in your own words.

My musical foundation is jazz, but it's not my only musical influence, or my only love. By incorporating well-written songs from other genres into this jazz context, I try to create a sound that is genre defying. I don't want to label it jazz, pop, or rock and put it into a box, but in record stores you will find it in the jazz section.

What are your musical influences?

Initially I learned music through musicals. I grew up listening to the music of Gershwin, Rodgers and Hart and Cole Porter, and when I started listening to my Mom's records, I found those same songs in the jazz repertoire. When I first got into jazz, I was listening to Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra, but I came to love this oldie station out of Houston and discovered Sam Cooke, Smokey Robinson and the Shirelles. Later I discovered James Taylor and Carly Simon and Neil Young. I never really tire of finding new music and I draw influence from everything that turns me on.

What's you biggest vice?

Procrastination.

What's in you SXSW survival kit?

Last year I got sick during SXSW. It's seemingly a time to let loose and just party, because there are so many people in town, but you can get sick very easily. You need [to get] ample sleep, take a lot of vitamins, drink tons of water and pack some sunscreen.

Who was your first celeb crush?

Marlon Brando. In the musical 'Guys and Dolls' he was so cool, confident and just incredibly handsome. His character is trying to win the heart of the ingénue, but in the end he wins the heart of every woman watching.

Beatles or Stones?

Beatles.

What is the crazy thing you've seen or experienced on tour?

After driving all day long from Boston and playing two shows that night in New York City, I was slotted to go on the Joey Reynolds show, an all-night talk radio show. The other guest was John 'Cha Cha' Ciarcia. He is famous for playing gangsters in Goodfellas and the Sopranos and as result, he leads these gangster tours in New York.

So, it was two in the morning and were sitting waiting to go on air, and 'Cha Cha' had brought all this food from his Italian restaurant. Finding myself in the wee hours somewhere in New York's financial district chowing down on ziti and doing my best not to fall asleep, was pretty bizarre. - Spinner.com


"Tunes sung with feeling from one Jazzy Kat"

You see a show like the one Kat Edmonson put on Tuesday night at Scullers, and you wonder what the heck people are doing at Miley Cyrus and Katy Perry concerts. Really, the world is unjust.

Edmonson, a petite singer from Austin, Texas, is at once a throwback and a pioneer. Her intimate vocal style and stage presence recall the heyday of jazz - she has the expressiveness of Billie Holiday, the elegance of Ella Fitzgerald, and the voice of Blossom Dearie. Yet she doesn’t merely retread standards. Sure, she likes her Cole Porter, but she and her pianist/arranger, Kevin Lovejoy, molded and modernized chestnuts like “Just One of Those Things,’’ “Night and Day,’’ and “It’s All Right With Me’’ into entirely fresh tunes with new harmonies, inventive rhythm structures, and sometimes mysterious undertones. They even did “Fever’’ in 5/4.

Most strikingly, they twist the cores of modern pop songs so that they become jazz and fit alongside the classics. She and her five-man band - which included piano, saxophone (and bass clarinet), bass, drums, and hand percussion - turned the Cure’s “Just Like Heaven’’ into a dreamy bossa nova and John Lennon’s “(Just Like) Starting Over’’ into an aching ballad.

Edmonson has grown quite comfortable inside these songs, taking even more liberties with them than she did on her recent CD, “Take to the Sky,’’ which stands among the best records of 2009. Like Holiday, Edmonson likes to sing just behind the beat, which infuses her demure voice with drama and heartbreak. She delayed the opening line of “Just Like Heaven’’ for so long - nearly a whole bar - that she risked falling too far behind, but she knew what she was doing, and the delivery was gorgeous. She opened “Angel Eyes’’ in a similar manner, giving herself the freedom to let the rhythm run way ahead of her.

The evening’s loveliest moment was its sparest. Four of the musicians left the stage, and Edmonson sang “Why Try to Change Me Now’’ with only piano behind her. Lovejoy demonstrated here that he is more than an accompanist. This was a bona fide duet; Lovejoy’s voice is in his hands, and he played with deep feeling. His notes were no backdrop; they intertwined with Edmonson’s words. When she ended the song not on the tonic but a step higher, it underscored her confidence in her own skill, and it crystallized this point: Kat Edmonson is our next great jazz singer.

Steve Greenlee - The Boston Globe


"Kat Edmonson at Scullers"

Kat Edmonson at Scullers
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston, Mass.; Nov. 10, 2009

By Joan Lynch

Kat Edmonson tells a story about her American Idol experience. She says she made it as far as Hollywood, but that was the end of the line; the judges said she lacked star power. Man, did they ever get that one wrong.

The tiny Texas-born singer recently brought her evocative style to Scullers Jazz Club in Boston, along with a five-piece band that was anything but just backup. They opened the evening with pianist Kevin Lovejoy’s inventive arrangement of “Summertime,” one of Edmonson’s favorite tracks on her recent CD, Take to the Sky (Convivium).
Katedmonson_span3

To get a feel for her style, close your eyes and imagine being in a smoky jazz café during the ’50s, listening to the girlish voice of someone like Blossom Dearie. Add a touch more sophistication and arching, original phrasing and you have a contemporary version of a classic songstress.

Edmonson covered many cabaret standards, all artfully arranged by Lovejoy and accompanied by a muscular band that included Lovejoy’s brother Chris on percussion, John Ellis on sax, J.J. Johnson on drums and Danton Boller on bass. Each classic, from “Just One of Those Things” to “Night and Day,” received an ethereal vocal and instrumental treatment.

Not to be stuck in a Cole Porter rut, Edmonson put a new spin on John Lennon’s “(Just Like) Starting Over.” With just bass and sax behind her, she made Carole King’s “One Fine Day” all her own. And although she claimed that they were still working out the kinks in their version of Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right,” the audience’s ovation said otherwise.

Ever since she filled in as a last-minute replacement at the Tanglewood Jazz Festival in early September, Edmonson’s career has taken off. She said she loves being on the road, so if you’re lucky enough to find her in your area, run—don’t walk—to reserve your spot.
- JazzTimes


"Kat Edmonson: Take To The Sky"

Jazz vocalist Kat Edmonson summed up her musical philosophy best when she told journalist Joey Guerra, "I just think good music is good music." The Austin-based singer's album Take To The Sky draws half of its repertoire from America's most timeless Tin Pan Alley songwriters, including the Gershwins and Cole Porter. The other half of the album draws from a wide range of contemporary popular songwriters, including the Cure and John Lennon.

This strategy of mixing the classic with the modern is not a new approach for jazz vocalists. Cassandra Wilson, for example, has built an impressive career covering songs by compositional innovators from Miles Davis to Bob Dylan. Edmonson's particular stylistic approach is unique and satisfying for two reasons—the high-quality arrangements by pianist Kevin Lovejoy and Edmonson's own quirky synthesis of nymph-like timbre and classic jazz phrasing.

Edmonson's first statement is bold. Though jazz singers have covered the Gershwin standard "Summertime" ad nauseam, she shows why the classic song deserves just one more chance. Lovejoy begins with an ominous Brad Mehldau-inspired piano and bass ostinato in six-eight time. At the second verse, drummer J.J. Johnson (best known for his work with Eric Clapton and John Mayer) adds decisive buoyancy to the band with an Afro-Cuban groove pitting four beats against every three in the piano and bass. The repetitive nature of the instrumentation is the perfect backdrop to introduce Edmonson's stark, whispery vocal style.

Equal parts Billie Holiday and Bjork, it is Edmonson's distinctive coyness that marks her as a vocalist of 2009, not merely a re-do of the 1930s. For the most part, Edmonson holds true to the original melodies of the jazz standards, including "Night and Day." Here, Lovejoy channels inspiration from soul music with a driving four-on-the-floor groove complete with tambourine. Edmonson's charming delivery successfully disguises the fact that the lyrics are more than 70 years old.

In fact, she is so convincing that one might easily mistake her cover of Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer's "Charade" as one of Rufus Wainwright's latest laments.

Edmonson and Lovejoy can easily dress up classic jazz in modern pop clothing, but that clothing must be reversible. One of the most successful pop-to-jazz conversions on the album is "Lovefool," a song best known for its performance by the Cardigans and subsequent inclusion on the 1996 Romeo and Juliet film soundtrack. Lovejoy's arrangement pairs Edmonson's voice with an austere brass accompaniment on each verse, making his switch to a tongue-in-cheek salsa montuno for the choruses a delightful surprise.

Edmonson is not one to pursue the vocal improvisations of the classic jazz singers, but it is her subtlety that is most appreciated here. The band, however, provides numerous tasteful moments of improvisational depth to the album. Reed player John Ellis plays a lovely, if brief, tenor saxophone solo on Edmonson's inspired bossa nova cover of the Cure's "Just Like Heaven." Likewise, Ellis's bass clarinet musings on "Charade" prove the weighty jazz roots of the band members without forcing unnecessary harmonic complexity upon what is meant to be an understated aesthetic. One of the gems of the album is made possible by the communication between the trio of Lovejoy, Revis and Johnson: the standard "Angel Eyes" is captivating.

The only song that comes close to conventionality is Carole King's "One Fine Day," heard here as a loping ballad. But, even then, it does not disappoint. The same is true of the soft ballad performance of John Lennon's "(Just Like) Starting Over." Edmonson delivers each lyrical line with such sensitivity and thoughtfulness as to rival any classic jazz songstress. The final piece (a hidden track 10) is a pitch-perfect unaccompanied performance by Edmonson of "Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most."

Though the album certainly straddles numerous stylistic divides, there is one category that fits without question—it is just "good music."


Tracks: Summertime; Just Like Heaven; Night and Day; Charade; Lovefool; Angel Eyes; Just One of Those Things; One Fine Day; (Just Like) Starting Over.

Personnel: Kat Edmonson: vocals; Kevin Lovejoy: piano, arranger; Eric Revis: bass; J.J. Johnson: drums (1-4, 6, 7, 9); Chris Lovejoy: percussion (1-5, 7); John Ellis: tenor saxophone (2, 7), bass clarinet (4); Ron Westray: trombone (1, 5, 8), euphonium (5); Donald Edwards: drums (8).
- All About Jazz


"Kat Edmonson- Take To The Sky"

Any young jazz singer that feels comfortable tackling The Cure or The Cardigans alongside Cole Porter and George Gershwin is OK in our book. And for 25-year-old Austin, TX artist Kat Edmonson that's just half the story. Described as "memorable and contagious" by NPR, the waif-like singer possesses a voice that matches her appearance with a lighter-than-air coolness that emphasizes interpretive phrasing over passionate power. The effect is startlingly simple and matter-of-fact...and disarmingly appealing.

In fact, as she hits the higher notes in songs like "The Very Thought of You", a song that doesn't unfortunately appear on her striking debut album Take To The Sky, there's a noticeable fragility to her tone that actually makes her voice even more intimate. Edmonson is not the first vocalist to be compared to Billie Holiday, and in some respects the analogy is a moot point, but there is that particularly mellow quality and the ability to just bend and instinctively play with the note like a horn player that does harken back to some of the more notable singers like Holiday or Peggy Lee.

Recorded simply and economically, Edmonson had the smarts to hand the album's mixing over to Al Schmitt, the veteran multi-Grammy winning soundman who engineered Steely Dan's classic Aja and worked with Frank Sinatra and Sam Cooke. Sky's sound is rich but sparse and uncluttered, allowing Edmonson the necessary space to let her notes hang unfettered. Even on tracks that require a fuller sound, like her inspired take on The Cure's "Just Like Heaven", the pace is languid and serene with the subtle rhythms the perfect complement to her whispery, wispy vocals. Recommended. - Direct Current


"Kat Edmonson: Austin's Great Jazz Hope"

25-year-old might be the first local jazz singer to break out nationally

By Michael Corcoran
AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF
Saturday, March 07, 2009

As talent booker of the Elephant Room — not to mention one of the most in-demand horn players in town since the early '70s — Mike Mordecai is the godfather of the Austin jazz scene. And he's never seen anything quite like the rocket rise of Kat Edmonson, the adorable 25-year-old with the voice somewhere between Billie Holiday and Peggy Lee, who has been singing steadily in clubs for only about three years.

"She's just a natural," Mordecai says of the Houston native who moved to Austin in 2002 to go to college but instead found her classrooms in the jazz basements and lounges of steak and seafood restaurants downtown.

Things are about to get really big for Edmonson, who on Tuesday ascends to the rank of "recording artist" with the release of the deliciously rich "Take to the Sky." The album, which features a bossa nova version of the Cure's "Just Like Heaven" among such vibrantly reworked standards as "Summertime" and "Night and Day," just might be good enough to establish Edmonson, with the intriguing voice and instincts, as the first Austin-based jazz singer to break out nationally.

It's the first release on Convivium, the label started by Edmonson and her producer/partner Kevin Lovejoy, but don't be surprised if a major label picks it up and puts it out as is.

Everybody loves Edmonson, even those who don't "get" jazz, but Mordecai says he wasn't won over when she first sang at the Elephant Room's open mike in 2005. "I told her she should learn 'Dindi' by Antonio Carlos Jobim. It's a very rangy song, with a complex melody line," Mordecai says. The next week the young waitress from Cool River restaurant/bar turned up ready to sing "Dindi."

"The bass player didn't know the bridge, so there was no foundation," Mordecai recalls, "and I had this drunk guy in my ear, trying to get a combo to play in his hotel suite later that night. There were all these distractions — but at the same time I was hearing this perfect pure voice. Kat was just nailing every note."

Mordecai advised Edmonson to keep coming back and sitting in and getting her chops down before she joined a group. But a couple weeks later, Mordecai was stunned to see Edmonson fronting Kat's Meow, with eccentric, shades-wearing guitarist Slim Richey. "It worked," Mordecai says of the odd collaboration.

The word started spreading about an amazing new singer in town who not only performed standards but wrote her own material. Keyboardist Lovejoy, who had just gotten off the road with John Mayer, was looking for a singer for a gig at the Lair, a tiny upstairs bar on Sixth Street. At the suggestion of trumpet master Ephraim Owens, Lovejoy offered Edmonson the gig. They've been together ever since, first strictly professionally and, six months later, as a couple.

Lovejoy thought he hadn't heard Edmonson sing before that night at the Lair, but he was mistaken. In 2002, Lovejoy was watching "American Idol" and saw that one of the singers auditioning was from Austin. "I was with some people and I asked, 'Has anyone heard of this singer?'" says Lovejoy who is also a Houston native. "It wasn't until a few months after I met Kat that I made the connection."

Edmonson passed the first "Idol" auditions and was flown to Hollywood as one of the final 48 contestants, but she was dismissed by Simon Cowell and the gang as too demure.

Back in Austin, Edmonson planned to go to Austin Community College to pick up some credits before transferring from the College of Charleston in South Carolina, where she attended her freshman year, to the University of Texas. Her heart, however, was in singing for a living. On the morning she went to enroll, she heard a country song that changed her path. "I don't even know who it was by — maybe Cory Morrow — but the lyrics were about skipping classes to sing for your friends," Edmonson says. She turned the car around and decided she wasn't going back to school.

"My mother and some of her friends had an intervention," Edmondon says, with a laugh. "They said I had to go to college — that's all there was to it. Everybody thought I had lost it when I said I wanted to sing." Katherine became Kat.

Edmonson credits her mother, who raised her without a father around, for inspiring her musical tastes at a young age. A Sunday ritual was watching old movie musicals at the home of Kat's godmother. "One of my favorites was 'High Society,' with all the Cole Porter songs," says Edmonson, whose speaking voice is of the same high pitch as her singing. "My mother exposed me to Gershwin, Rogers & Hart and Frank Sinatra when I was 4 or 5 years old. That's when I started singing."

It wasn't until a talent show at Houston's Lamar High School during Edmonson's senior year that she first performed in public, singing an Indigo Girls song with a couple of friends.

During her year in Charleston, an 18-year-old Edmonson would close up at Starbucks and sneak into a black blues club, where they'd let her sing. At Cool River, she was known to jump onstage with the cover band to sing Fleetwood Mac or funk songs. She's always loved to sing, but it wasn't until Monday nights at the Elephant Room that Edmonson found her true voice.

"The thing that's really unique about Kat is that, as young as she is, she has her own sound," Lovejoy says of her tone and phrasing that are both knowing and vulnerable. "She connects (with listeners) because there's an honesty in her voice."

Recorded in two days in September at the Texas Treefort studio in West Austin, "Take to the Sky" features a rhythm section of drummer J.J. Johnson, who tours with John Mayer, bassist Eric Revis from Branford Marsalis' group and Lovejoy's older brother Chris Lovejoy, in from California where he plays with Charlie Hunter, on percussion. "It just so happened that the musicians we wanted, who are all incredibly busy, were available for those days," producer Lovejoy says. It was the first time the Lovejoy brothers played on a record together.

"We didn't have a big budget, but we didn't need one," Edmonson says of the album, which was cut live in the studio. "It's jazz, so there's no need for layers or overdubs."

It cost much more to mix the album than record it, but Lovejoy and Edmonson agreed it was worth it to hire the legendary Al Schmitt, who mixed most of Sam Cooke's classics and "Aja" by Steely Dan. As a bonus, Edmonson also got a pretty impressive endorsement from the 19-time Grammy winner. "Kat Edmonson is the best new jazz singer I have heard in years," Schmitt is quoted in press materials. "I know she'll be around for years to come."

Edmonson seems genuinely humbled by the accolades. As a local jazz vocalist she knows what it's like to sing while everyone's talking. That they're now talking about her takes a little getting used to. - Austin-American Statesman


"A fresh face, and a fresher voice"

The Tanglewood Jazz Festival brings some of the genre’s best-known and classiest musicians to Lenox at the end of every summer. Violinist Regina Carter will be there next weekend. So will bassist Dave Holland and his octet. Pianists Kenny Barron and Mulgrew Miller will play a set of duets. Saxophonist Paquito D’Rivera will perform. Husband-and-wife singers John Pizzarelli and Jessica Molaskey will tape a radio broadcast.


But the most exciting and enticing name on the bill is the least known. In fact, she wasn’t on the lineup until 11 days ago, a last-minute replacement. She is, however, the performer everyone will be talking about once the festival is over.

Kat Edmonson, 26, has one album to her name, and it’s been out for just a few months. She has had no formal training, no big-shot mentor. Instead she has a preternaturally gifted voice, sense of rhythm, and ability to swing. Where other singers her age tend to belt out a tune, she retreats, nearly whispering the lyrics, with a timbre that recalls Blossom Dearie. Comparing Edmonson to Norah Jones and Madeleine Peyroux doesn’t quite work; she’s more jazz-focused than they are, even if her set list is more contemporary than theirs. With an imaginative repertoire that includes jazzy remakes of the Cure’s “Just Like Heaven’’ and the Cardigans’ “Lovefool’’ and updates of such classics as “Angel Eyes’’ and “Just One of Those Things,’’ Edmonson might be the most promising American jazz singer to come along since Cassandra Wilson.

“Jazz is progressive, and it’s alive,’’ she says. “I wanted to make it fresh. I wanted to make it sound like I was recording this music in 2009 and still remain timeless somehow.’’

In an interview from her home in Austin, Texas, Edmonson talks matter-of-factly about her life and career. Her nature is unassuming and modest. She sounds as though she feels genuinely blessed to be singing for a living rather than working at a Starbucks or for a real estate broker, both of which she was doing a few years ago.

Music came to her through osmosis. There were no lessons. Growing up in Houston, she got acquainted with the American songbook through the old records her mother played on the stereo and the old movies she popped into the VCR: musicals with Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Danny Kaye, and Bing Crosby. By the time she was 9, she was writing songs.

By high school she was consuming music obsessively, but it wasn’t a career path. After graduation, she moved to South Carolina and enrolled at the College of Charleston, intending to study interior design and furniture design. Still, music beckoned, and she started singing - pop songs, her own compositions - at a blues club there. But the hectic schedule of studying full time, working full time at a coffee shop, and singing at night was taxing. And tuition was growing expensive.

She turned her attention back to Texas, this time to Austin and its thriving music scene. She enrolled in a community college, planning to study during the day and sing at night. “When I was driving home after registration, I heard this song on the radio, a guy singing about not ever going to class in college and always hanging out and singing for his friends,’’ she says. “I laughed and said, I can relate, because it was so much like me. I realized right then I would pull out of school and pursue a music career.’’ She withdrew from college and began looking for work with local bands.

In 2002 she auditioned for “American Idol’’ and wound up in the group of 48 invited to Hollywood, but she was quickly dismissed (“You just don’t look like a star, dog,’’ Randy Jackson told her). She returned to Austin and had a series of jobs: waitress, telemarketer, nanny. She sang at open-mike nights. In June 2005 she found herself at a Monday night jazz jam at an Austin club called the Elephant Room. It was there that she realized jazz was her calling.

Mike Mordecai, a trombonist who’s been running the jazz jam since 1980, remembers the first time Edmonson came in - and recalls pegging her wrong. He assumed she was just another “chick singer,’’ as he puts it. “I’m kind of rolling my eyes,’’ he says. “She was young and cute. We’re like, OK, what do you want to sing? She had a nice voice. She started coming in every week. A few weeks into it, it started becoming apparent that she had something special.’’

The door to a music career was opening, but it wasn’t wide enough. Edmonson needed to find more gigs, so she quit her waitressing job and found 9-to-5 hours with a real estate broker. Soon that became problematic too. “My enthusiasm for the job began waning almost immediately, because I was staying up really late at night to sing,’’ she says. “My boss called me into his office one day; he said I wasn’t the energetic girl he hired. At that moment I realized there was no time to waste.’’ She told her boss he was right, and she quit.

Edmonson has spent the past three to four years singing full-time, mostly in Texas but occasionally elsewhere. She played a few dates in the Northeast in the spring and comes back this way next Sunday for her Tanglewood debut.

The invitation to play Tanglewood came after Dawn Singh, who programs the Tanglewood Jazz Festival, heard her CD, “Take to the Sky,’’ and was struck by her restrained style.

“There’s something about her voice that’s really soothing,’’ Singh says. “There’s also something about her personality, her down-to-earth attitude, that I really like.’’

Edmonson seems to take it all in stride, happy to be doing what she loves, flattered that someone might like her singing. There isn’t a trace of entitlement in her words. She credits her pianist and arranger, Kevin Lovejoy, for making her interpretations of standards and pop songs sound so fresh. She talks about her goals in broad terms, with wide-eyed optimism.

“I want to tour, everywhere I can, all of the world,’’ she says. “I want to play more festivals. I already have ideas for another record. I want to do this for the rest of my life.’’

Steve Greenlee - The Boston Globe


"Second Stage: Kat Edmonson"

I'm admittedly dubious when it comes to singers who cover well-worn jazz songs. How many versions of "Body and Soul" or "Stardust" do we really need? But when I heard Take to the Sky, a new collection of jazz standards and pop-song covers from Austin-based singer Kat Edmonson, I was immediately taken by its unusually novel arrangements. The songs are still rooted in traditional jazz instrumentation and patterns, so it's not like they're wildly experimental. But Edmonson and the gifted and inspired musicians in her backing band rework the songs enough to make them sound entirely fresh. Take to the Sky includes cuts like Cole Porter's "Night and Day" and the Johnny Mercer-Henry Mancini song "Charade," but also features a gorgeous, smoky version of John Lennon's "(Just Like) Starting Over" and Carole King's "One Fine Day."

Like most of the CDs I listen to, I popped Take to the Sky in my computer without checking the liner notes or track listings, to avoid any preconceived notions of what to expect. This opening song is so beautifully re-imagined, I didn't even recognize it, at first, as one of the most covered songs around: Gershwin's "Summertime." - NPR- All Songs Considered


"Kat Edmonson Interview"

Kat Edmonson is the jazz artist I’ve been waiting for – a singer more than capable of attracting an amateur jazz fan such as myself – a singer with a voice that doesn’t need supports to stand on its own. Witnessing her performance, she’s magnetic. Her vocals flow and are capable of filling a cozy void in any musical soul, so perfectly, so effortlessly. Maybe you can’t take it from me – as stated before, I’m no jazz aficionado. The words of legendary record producer, Al Schmitt should however suffice: “Kat Edmonson is the best new jazz singer I have heard in years, and I know she will be around for years to come. You have to hear her.”

You may have already heard her melody, “Lucky” on the Steven Spielberg produced Showtime program, “The United States of Tara,” and her latest collection, “Take to the Sky” is out in stores June 2nd. Kat talks about the record; “Expect some adventurous interpretations of familiar standards on this record and also some unexpected reads of equally familiar but contemporary tunes including a John Lennon song as well as a song by The Cure.” Taking in her rendition of “Just like Heaven”, I couldn’t help but smile. It’s just good, good stuff.

The young jazz phenom will be on tour supporting “Take to the Sky,” so check out her schedule. There’s lots of room for improvisation as well with her band, so don’t worry about ever seeing the same show twice. There’s much more to learn below, so get into the XXQ’s.

XXQs: Kat Edmonson

PensEyeView.com (PEV): Tell us how you first got started out? Has playing music always been something you’ve wanted to do?

KE: I have wanted to sing for as long as I can remember. I was introduced to the movies of Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly when I was 3 and there was no turning back.

PEV: Calling Austin home, what kind of music where you listening to growing up? What was the first concert you attended? Who is on your iPod right now?

KE: Actually, though I now call Austin my home, I grew up in Houston. In addition to musicals, I grew up listening to James Taylor, Neil Young, The Beach Boys, Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison, The Temptations, Marvin Gaye- I could go on and on. I listened to every bit of music I could get my hands on. My mom took me to my first concert, The Ink Spots, when I was in second grade. I was thrilled about it but sadly, when I went to school the next day, nobody knew who the Ink Spots were. Everybody was checking out the New Kids at the time. My iPod right now: Count Basie, “E=MC2”, Fleetwood Mac, “Fleetwood Mac”, Shuggie Otis, “Inspiration Information”, Aretha Franklin, “Young, Gifted and Black”, Anita O’Day, “Anita Sings The Most- With The Oscar Peterson Quartet”, Sam Cooke, “Live At The Copa”.

PEV: Tell us about your creative process… What kind of environment do you have to be in to make music?

KE: Inspiration for a song can come to me from just about anywhere and because of this, I’ve learned to keep journals within arm’s reach at all times (my purse, my car, beside my bed). Unlike most musicians, I typically write without an instrument, as I’ll often hear an entire chorus or extensive arrangements in my head. When that happens, the writing process has begun. If I’m out and about and an interesting melodic idea pops into my head, I’ll use my cell phone and sing into my voicemail. Ultimately, I like to gather all my ideas and then set aside a few hours in which to put them together, whether it is at home or wherever. Some of my most productive songwriting sessions have been in the bathtub or driving down the highway.

PEV: What can fans expect from a live Kat Edmonson show?

KE: Hopefully, something they’ve never encountered before. My band is pretty daring and we love to take our shows to places we’ve never been. That’s when the real fun begins.

PEV: Tell us about your first live performance. How have you changed since that first show to where you are now?

KE: I can’t remember how I sounded in my first performance but I know that I was concerned with sounding perfect (perfect pitch, no cracked notes- technical stuff). Since then my focus has shifted to really stretching out vocally but most important to me is addressing the sentiment of a song and telling the story in the lyrics as sincerely as possible.

PEV: What can fans expect from your latest release, Take To The Sky?

KE: They can expect some adventurous interpretations of familiar standards on this record and also some unexpected reads of equally familiar but contemporary tunes including a John Lennon song as well as a song by The Cure.

PEV: How is Take To The Sky different from other albums out today?

KE: Many people have told me that the album doesn’t sound like anything they’ve heard before.

PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about Kat Edmonson?

KE: For years, I never listened to female singers. I resented the fact that I had a very delicate, feminine voice and I wanted to sound like Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett. It wasn’t until Carly Simon came along that I really began to appreciate the ladies. Then, a whole new world opened up to me.

PEV: Was there a certain point in your life when you knew that music was going to be a career for you?

KE: I was riding home in the car one day after registering for a semester of school and I heard this country song on the radio. The artist was singing about skipping class in college to hang out and play music for his friends. I had an epiphany, withdrew from school that day, and immediately opened the paper to find open mics and bands looking for singers.

PEV: What one word best describes Kat Edmonson?

KE: Pure

PEV: As musicians, you live a lot of your life on the road. How is life on the road for you? Best and worst parts? Any fun stories?
KE: I love going on the road and do it as much as I can. At a festival in Florida, I jumped in a van shuttling between the hotel and the venue and I ended up sitting behind The Indigo Girls. I’d been a fan of theirs for years and I recognized their voices before I even realized they were there. It’s always a treat to meet the people you admire and find that they are just as cool as you had hoped they’d be. Haven’t seen any “worst” moments yet. I’ll keep you posted on that one.

PEV: Do you find yourself often going back to one theme in your songwriting over another?

KE: I make a very conscious effort to write about as many things as possible so as to continue to explore who I am as a songwriter.

PEV: How have all your friends and family reacted to your success? What’s it like when you get to play at your hometown?

KE: My friends and family are supportive of me and thankfully don’t seem to be affected much by my success. Playing my hometown can be pretty nerve-wracking. It’s one thing to play in front of a bunch of people I don’t know but, quite another to look out into an audience and see my old school mates and possibly even a former teacher staring back at me.

PEV: What can we find you doing in your spare time, aside from playing/writing music?

KE: I like to cook in my spare time and subsequently, eat. I love checking out films, listening to music, reading and doing yoga.

PEV: Having played with many great acts in music is there still one artist or group that would be your dream collaboration? Why?

KE: I’d like to sing a duet with Tony Bennett. What do you mean “why”? Doesn’t everybody have that dream?

PEV: Is there an up and coming band or artist you think we should all be looking out for now?

KE: Yeah. Brandi Carlile. I saw a couple of her shows recently and she blew me away. She’s channeling some great spirit and it’s really heavy to witness. That girl will be around for a long time.

PEV: If you weren’t playing music, what would each of you most likely be doing for a career?

KE: It sounds cliché for a musician to say but I’d like to try my hand at acting. It’s another art form that I love and I haven’t ruled it out as something to do down the line.

PEV: Tell us what an average day is like for you?

KE: An average day begins with writing in my journal and then listening to music. I wish I could say something romantic like, “then I take a walk on the beach and compose music to the rhythm of the waves” but, in actuality, I sit down at my computer and answer emails, make phone calls, and do everything else that’s necessary as an independent artist to promote myself. At some point, I return to a song I’ve been learning or working on and then inevitably, I wind up somewhere gigging at night.

PEV: So, what is next for Kat Edmonson?

KE: Well, I’m shooting for the moon. We’ll see where I land. - penseyeview.com


Discography

Take To The Sky-LP
"Lucky"-Single
"Be The Change"-Single
(all of the above have streaming and receive radio airlplay)

Photos

Bio

Kat Edmonson’s first album, "Take to the Sky" made many national top 10 lists of 2009, became a top seller on iTunes and Amazon, and debuted at #21 on the Billboard jazz charts in the first week of it’s release. After the success of her freshman debut, Edmonson went on to perform with Willie Nelson, open for Smokey Robinson and headlined at the 2010 Taichung Jazz Festival in Taiwan. Edmonson also developed a friendship with fellow Texan, Lyle Lovett after Lovett saw one of her shows in Austin. She opened for Lyle Lovett and His Large Band for a portion of their 2010 summer tour and performed the winter classic, "Baby It's Cold Outside," with Lovett on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno in December of 2010. Her single release, “Lucky”, appeared on the award-winning Showtime series, United States of Tara. Edmonson has thus far released all of her music on the record label that she co-founded in 2009.