Music lovers pay attention. ‘1971’ is a musical cabaret event which explores a year in music that continues to weave its soulful tapestry throughout our 21st century lives. It was the year of Sticky Fingers, Bowie’s Hunky Dory, Tea For The Tillerman, Tapestry, Joni Mitchell’s Blue and Led Zeppelin’s IV…to name just a few. National and international award-winning vocalist, comedienne, actress and former ABC music journalist Nadia Sunde takes her audience on a journey into the soundtrack of a year that has never really left us. We fired off a few questions to the versatile performer ahead of this weekend’s shows.
What is so captivating about 1971 – what drew you to this year in particular for a show?
I was presenting a weekly retrospective music show on North Coast ABC and kept being drawn into 1971 as a year that featured some of rock’s greatest albums. It was the rise of the singer/songwriter and artists like Carole King, David Bowie, Cat Stevens, Neil Young and Joni Mitchell (among many others) were artfully laying the foundation for themselves and the industry at large. It utterly blows my mind the music that came out of that year…across all genres including Motown (The Temptations, Marvin Gaye) West Coast (America, The Wrecking Crew), R’n’B (Isaac Hayes, Al Green), Country (Gram Parsons, Dolly Parton), Rock (The Who, Led Zeppelin) and folk (Fairport Convention, Nick Drake). If I could only choose one year in music to listen to for the rest of my life it would be 1971.
Can you please give us a run-down on the show? What songs do you sing? What else happens during the set?
‘1971’ transports the audience to another time by weaving stories and songs together in a concert/cabaret experience. I’m very lucky to be joined on stage by my beautiful band featuring Peta Leigh Wilson (The Rooftops) on keys, Stewart Barry (Bobby Alu) on double bass and Scott French (The Cheap Fakes, Felicity Lawless) on guitars. We perform songs by Carole King, Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, Harry Nilsson, Elton John, Bill Withers, John Denver, David Bowie, The Rolling Stones, Carole King, Marvin Gaye, Janis Joplin, Neil Young and others…..and, if you’re lucky, you might also get to see me don a pair of roller skates…oh no.
You’ve performed this show before – what’s the response been and how excited are you to bring it to a TACGC audience?
I LOVE PERFORMING THIS SHOW!!!!! It’s powerful to offer an insight into the songs and the journey of the artist at that time. It’s an emotional experience watching an audience respond when they hear the first strains of a song that has been with them throughout their lives. We performed the show at the Brisbane City Hall early this year and the audience burst into applause after the first line of ‘Take Me Home Country Roads’. I had to choke back tears when I saw people crying as they joined in the chorus. As Joni Mitchell says on her 1971 album ‘Blue’….”songs are like tattoos”. These songs have been a soundtrack to my own and so many other peoples lives.
You’re definitely a jill of all trades when it comes to the stage, how do you put together new shows like this, what’s the creative process like?
I talk about my creative process being a lot like ‘cloud surfing’. I’m not in short supply for creative ideas, so I lovingly let them play above my head like a posse of clouds. I take turns dreaming on each fluffy, soft white pillow and imagine the experience of what is possible. Sometimes the cloud is there for a short time, a plaything for my own entertainment and I’ll let it float on by when I’m ready. Other times a cloud (creative idea) will linger until it manifests into something solid and real. I try not to put too many pressure cookers on things – the industry will do that for me anyway. Some clouds have been with me for years before they manifest. ‘Cloud surfing’ is the first and most important part of my creative process. ‘1971’ felt like a very solid idea right from the beginning. It suits my vocal (and wardrobe) style to sing these songs and my it makes my heart happy to share their stories.
This whole concept of Sideshow / cabaret acts at TACGC has us very excited. What is it about cabaret that allows people to connect so deeply yet so loosely?
I’ve been ACHING for the Gold Coast to consciously nurture a culture of cabaret and so chuffed to see it happening at TACGC. The team of people pulling this series together totally understand what it means to create an ‘experience’ for their audience. From the minute you walk in the door of The Basement you’re nestled into a twinkling, warm, opulent room with good food, conversation, drink and a big hearted, extravagant hostess to make sure you’re comfortable. My alter-ego ‘Slavka’ has been enjoying her hostess role in the SideSHOW series. Being Croatian means she’ll never let anyone go hungry…or thirsty! The informal, inviting atmosphere and the interactivity of cabaret means that SideSHOW audiences are getting to feel a ‘part of the experience’ rather than just observers of it. That is a VERY big thing.
I guarantee audiences from ‘1971’ will be excitedly sharing stories in the car ride home, rifling through their dusty album collections and making a whole new playlist on Spotify to reconnect with the energy of our show….’songs are like tattoos…inside you’ll hear a sigh, a foggy lullaby, there is you song from me.’ (Joni Mitchell, 1971).
‘1971’ will hit the stage at The Arts Centre Gold Coast this Friday 27 and Saturday 28 October as part of the Sideshow series. Tickets here.