After many years as accompanist, Adelaide singer and pianist, Deborah Brennan, is making her debut as a front woman this Fringe Festival.
She spoke to us for our 16 for ’16 spectacular about her upcoming show.
In A Case of You: The Music of Joni Mitchell, Deborah is showcasing the music of one of the most influential female singer/songwriters of our time.
“It’s a one-hour show featuring 14 of Joni Mitchell’s most well known songs. I’ve got a four-piece band and along the way, I share stories about how I came to be such a big fan of Joni and the impact her music has had on me as a musician,” Deborah says.
“My mum remarried and she married a man who is a big Joni Mitchell fan. They asked me to sing two Joni Mitchell songs for their wedding. At the time, I only knew ‘Big Yellow Taxi’, so they bought me a Joni Mitchell songbook and my stepfather lent me his CD and I fell in love with it.”
Making the leap from accompanist to centre stage had a lot to do with Deborah’s desire to keep Joni’s music alive, and also her experiences in the background at different festivals.
“A few years ago I decided to get into amateur theatre, so I’ve been doing a few musical shows playing in the pit as a pianist. Then, someone got in touch with me because they wanted an accompanist for their Fringe show and from that I did a cabaret Fringe shows and two more Fringe shows. Being around the process and seeing how achievable it is to do a show, it inspired me to do my own,” she says.
“It’s been on my mind to do a show like this for a long time, and then last year, she got really sick, and all I could think was how sad it would be if she died and people didn’t know her music anymore. So I took the plunge and decided to put on a show.”
Deborah is thrilled to be getting out and about during Fringe, which is one of her favourite times of year, and she’s playing at two great venues.
“Fringe is the one time of year all the weirdos come out – it’s our time! I love the creative buzz in Adelaide. Everyone is welcome. If you go to the football, everyone is there because they love football. But at Fringe, you might be a writer, a singer, a circus performer or a tech person; there’s room for everyone, and I like that,” she says.
“We’re doing two shows at the Jade Monkey, and we’re taking one show up to McLaren Vale, to The Singing Gallery, which is a beautiful venue.”
In this, her debut as a front woman, Deborah’s ambition is simple and genuine: to turn people on to the music she loves.
“I’m a musician, not a performer. I’m not being a character, I’m not trying to be Joni, but it’s a labour of love. If I can introduce her music to a new generation, I think that’ll be a really big achievement. I’m excited to tap into that market; people who share the love for Joni!” she laughs.
A Case of You: The Music of Joni Mitchell is playing February 17, 18 and 24 and you can book your tickets through Fringetix.
By Libby Parker
Libby Parker is a journalist, teacher and life enthusiast.
You can follow her on Twitter at @upsidenews_lib