Interview: Kate Ceberano – The Church of Rock and Roll

By Mariam Digges

Interview: Kate Ceberano – The Church of Rock and Roll
ARIA Award winning artist Kate Ceberano is beating the drum for breast cancer. She chats to MiNDFOOD about her work & wellbeing balance.

“I feel like I’ve grown up in all the right ways in the last 10 years. If I met myself again as I was then in a room somewhere, I wouldn’t recognise that person.”

Ceberano is reflecting on the time between her last two records; the Hawaii-hailing Australian artist has released her first original work in a decade, but by no means did she stray from the field of arts during this time. From her work as artistic director of the Adelaide Cabaret Festival to her performance in the award-winning production of South Pacific, to appearing on numerous television shows (including putting on her dancing shoes for Dancing with the Stars), Ceberano also took on a new role as mother to her daughter Gypsy during this time and is an active ambassador for the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

“I came back from LA, had a child, then had to work my butt off to pay for all the expenses and everything I accounted on my travels,” recalls the three-time Aria Award winner. “It was amazing though – I got to do so much – flamenco classes, acting classes – I did everything I ever wanted to do. Then the first seven or eight months of being pregnant with Gyspy were a nonstop whirlwind tour. I released an album of mostly jazz and blue style covers then.”

Born to Hawaiian parents, (Ceberano points out that she was conceived but not born there), the songstress was raised on a steady diet of ukulele, auto harp and bluegrass. These forming sounds are more present than ever on her latest album, Kensal Road, named after Kensaltown Studios in London where it was recorded.

“I just wanted to sound like who I am today,” she explains.

No stranger to the acting world, having appeared both on stage and on screen countless times including performing the role of Mary in 1992’s Jesus Christ Superstar and starring in her own late-night cabaret-style show on ABC TV called Kate Ceberano and Friends in 1993, Ceberano last year joined the cast of South Pacific, before being appointed as Artistic Director of the Adelaide Cabaret Festival. It’s clear that the arts run deep in her veins.

“Acting is always something I’ve wanted to do, so I jumped at the chance” she tells. “I loved working with the Australian Opera and working at the Sydney Opera House was amazing. Also, working with other luminaries – Lisa McCune is the most extraordinary performing artist. She exemplifies the people we work with at the Cabaret Festival: people who are literally too big for the box – how do you describe all their talents?”

Ceberano also landed one of the most coveted jobs in the country – a presenter on the TV travel series Getaway.

“Funnily enough for me, I loved Getaway and working with the crew, but I got a bit homesick. If you can’t take everyone with you, you just don’t want to go. While I loved showing people where they might like to take their families on holiday, I couldn’t wait come home and have a holiday with my own.”

It comes as no surprise that Ceberano’s family are also heavily involved in the music industry.

“All of my family is very influential in the music business and actively changing the face of modern music. My brother Phillip and I have been travelling and touring together our whole lives. My sister-in-law is a publicist for every artist you could name under the stars. My cousin Elizabeth just finished touring with Lincoln Park, and has worked for Alanis Morissette and J-Lo. And this is our wee little family – we’re like the mighty music machine!”

A stalwart of the entertainment industry, with more than three decades of experience behind her, Ceberano admits that she was better equipped for the curveballs that show biz can throw than some of her peers.

“For an artist, we’re very often undereducated about what’s to come. When things took me by surprise, rather than behind defeated by it, I took it upon myself to learn from it. I’m very much an opportunistic person like that – I’ll take the opportunity of adversity just to learn from it. I see a lot of artists who don’t have that  – they’re too willing to take a backseat role.”

A self-labeled ‘new-age pop star’ and active ambassador for the Breast Cancer Foundation, Ceberano is serious when it comes to matters of health and wellbeing.

“I am one of the spokespersons for what is a minority: women in rock and roll. When you look at the statistics of how many women in such a small fraternity have been struck my breast cancer – Delta Goodrem, Kylie Minogue, Renee Geyer – and superimpose this map across the statistics of all women across the world, you realise it’s an epidemic that’s not just going to hit one or two people.

“As a representative of my church  – the church of rock and roll – I want to beat the drum for that. I want to make noise and help women be able to have support and know that people are onto it in terms of research.”

“My grandmother started a homeopathic food brand. I think I have a constitution (knock on wood) to keep on rock and rolling. I want to be doing this when I’m 80 – I don’t want to wear out. You wear out fast in this business.”

Kate Ceberano’s new album, Kensal Road, is out now.


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