SA singer Carla Lippis will make her debut in the Adelaide Cabaret Festival next month as a “mafia princess turned psychedelic cowgirl”.
“It’s so funny, my role within the festival has done a 180 in 12 months,” she tells InDaily.
During last year’s festival, Lippis was working as a host in the Backstage Club when fellow cabaret artist Libby O’Donovan encouraged her to get up on stage and sing.
“So I did and [Cabaret Festival artistic director] Kate Ceberano saw me sing and was like, ‘Uh-uh! You need to be singin’, girlfriend! You need to be singin’!’
“It’s so nice to be acknowledged by someone who’s so well respected and who’s got such great talent.”
Lippis, who started performing when she was 16 and was previously frontwoman of Carla Lippis and the Martial Hearts, was even more excited when Ceberano followed through by offering her the opportunity to write and produce her own show in this year’s festival.
In creating Brenta’s Bad Thing, Lippis collaborated with fellow musicians Dahlia Opala and husband Geoffrey Crowther, as well as guitarist Steven Pederson (from Junior and Carla Lippis and the Martial Hearts). In the show, she will be backed by Pederson, Kevin van der Zwaag (The Transatlantics) and Mark Ferguson (Mike Stewart Big Band).
“It’s been this beautiful process of evolution with the character and the songs,” Lippis says.
She describes Brenta, the character she embodies in the show, as “a mafia princess that goes in to a fantasy world”.
“The show starts off with 1960s Italian folk songs and then moves into 1960s country and then moves into psychedelic country.
“Cabaret can be anything that you want it to be, and that’s the beauty of it.”
Inspiration for Brenta’s Bad Thing came from Lippis’s childhood and the people and influences around her; she also incorporates and plays with Italian-Australian archetypes and stereotypes.
Lippis says Brenta is “kind of psycho. It’s her personality; she’s unpredictable”.
“She’s a character that lives inside me.
“She’s the Italo-Australian woman who just wants to get married and have an easy life, but there’s more to her than that because she has this thing that she can do … she can sing, and that’s the thing that sets her apart from the normal archetype, the normal stereotype.
“She’s very much a part of me, that’s for sure, but she’s going to be unleashed with a force!”
Brenta’s Bad Thing will be in the Artspace Gallery at the Adelaide Festival Centre from June 6-8. The Adelaide Cabaret Festival runs from June 6-21.
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