WHEN WA Academy of Performing Arts jazz graduate Anna-Kat sang for her American singing teacher the reaction almost ended her career.
“She said ‘you have a lot of work to do’,” says Anna-Kat (her full name is Anna-Katarina Hicks).
“Then I sang her one of my original songs and she said ‘girl you gotta gift, you gotta move to a big city’.”
A move to Europe is in the pipeline, but not before her musical collective Wonderchild releases its first single Malaika on Sunday, with the EP to follow in early 2017.
The members are all WAAPA graduates: “They are my best friends,” Anna-Kat says.
She chose the band name after seeing a little girl dancing in sheer wonder to music at the Subiaco Markets.
“That’s what I want for our music, for people to connect … music for children who have grown up.”
Malaika comes from the Swahili word for angel – and was inspired by Anna-Kat’s grandmother, who at 87 still rides her two horses daily.
“She is amazing. Couple of years ago she was in a rut after my grandfather passed. She was telling a stranger about it and they said ‘do you know the difference between a rut and a grave? It’s six feet’.”
The comic remark jolted her into moving on and enjoying the rest of her life.
“The theme of [Malaika] is about living on your own terms, living with dignity,” Anna-Kat says.
The singer-songwriter’s musical influences are varied: “As an adolescent I was consumed by Paul Kelly…then it was Joni Mitchell.” Elton John’s wispy piano music also influenced the song: “Because I loved him growing up.”
Anna-Kat describes her music as a mix of: “Pop with jazz and folk influences … it’s contemporary, but has a more RnB and jazz feel.”
The Sunday show kicks off with WAAPA jazz honours graduate Little Seal (Ronan Chapple), who chose the name because Ronan means little seal in his mother’s Gaelic tongue.
Also supporting Wonderchild is Kid Dingo, described by Aussie music website Pilerats as “kind of like a young Aussie version of Chance the Rapper’s Social Experiment Project”, Anna-Kat says.
The Sunday launch is the day after Anna-Kat’s 26th birthday, but it will be on available at online music mag Tone Deaf Friday November 18.
Catch Wonderchild before they go global, at the Good Shepherd, 663 Newscastle Street, Leederville. Doors open 7pm, show starts 7.30pm.
by JENNY D’ANGER