Always the consummate entertainer, Kate Ceberano is a shrewd and disciplined artist who never shies away from a new challenge, and so it’s hardly surprising that in hitting the road to promote her brand new album Kensal Road, a new skill has been added to her already impressive CV – she is the band’s drummer!

“To be honest, it just happened organically. An amazing drummer I worked with in London showed me how to instill a percussive sort of accompaniment, which I’ve found really compliments the female voice, and I thought I could actually do this.”

Kensal Road is Ceberano’s first original album since 2003’s Girl Can Help It. “It’s taken so long because I’ve been raising my nine-year-old daughter and a creative life is sometimes at loggerheads with being a parent.” Kensal Road (a salute she says to her recording experience at the Kensaltown Studios in London) is about a road well-travelled. “There’s a lot of the language of arrivals, departures, coming home and reunions. I lead a lifestyle that has me coming and going all the time but thankfully my daughter Gypsy understands now what I do for a living. I feel like the mummy-bird going out to get the food and coming back to the nest every two to three days.”

The album’s first single, Magnet, was co-written by Ceberano, Malaysian-born songwriter Yuna and Canadian songwriter, producer and World Vision artist James Bryan. “I knew that James and I were pretty much going to be driving the ship and he was my primary collaborator. He also brought in Jeremy Lister, who is a sort of alternate Nashville artist. The album has a kind of earthy Hawaiian, organic, jamming thing but so full of harmony.”

Sony Music invited Ceberano to take artistic control of her first originals album in more than a decade and she leapt at the opportunity. “Any creative element that results in a completed product in your hand is always very satisfying. Before I left for London I was writing with Eric McCusker [Mondo Rock], putting pen back to paper, just to get my writing bone going again. I did do a lot of work, wrote about 80 songs over a year; not necessarily to collect material for this album but to simply figure out what it is I was trying to say.”

What’s on Kate’s playlist?

Departures – Bernard Fanning

The Evidence of Love – The Baker Suite

Little French Songs – Carla Bruni

Once I Was An Eagle – Laura Marling

I Feel It All – Feist

Songbook – Katie Noonan

“I’ve also be delving into my early 80s classics like Grace Jones’ Nightclubbing and ska band The Specials. It’s a very eccentric playlist but hey, that’s what I’m listening to.”

 About Kensal Road

“I think it’s one of my favourite albums because of the elements that went into making it, working with some amazing European musicians, having the creative control and the support of Sony Music Australia. Rather than me having to go to them and say I want to do this they said ‘we’re ready for you to do this now’ and that is a beautiful reversal of flow if you know what I mean.”

Kate gives two young singers their big break…

“I see one of my roles as artistic director of the Adelaide Cabaret Festival is to get people gigs,” she says. “My singing teacher had an advance copy of Kensal Road and passed it on to two of her students, Jess Fairlie and Alison Ainsworth. They learnt the entire album, the harmonies, everything without being asked and I was so engaged and impressed by their initiative that I said you’ve got the gig as back-up singers for the tour.”

Kate Ceberano has truly made her mark as an Australian entertainment industry icon. The versatile vocalist, songwriter and actor who first found fame with the 1980s funk band I’m Talking has tackled everything from jazz, blues and soul to chart-topping pop songs like Bedroom Eyes. The ARIA, Logie and Peoples’ Choice Awards-winner has more recently turned her talents to the musical stage as the pidgen-speaking Bloody Mary in Opera Australia’s South Pacific, sizzled on the dance floor in Dancing With The Stars and won acclaim as artistic director of the Adelaide Cabaret Festival.