Christine Anu
Christine Anu

Christine is determined to do justice to Queen of Soul

EVEN for one of Australia's great singers, taking on not only Aretha Franklin's catalogue of songs but also doing it justice live was a decision not taken lightly by Christine Anu.

Having spent the past 20 years crafting her stage presence, refining her voice and creating a place for herself as a legend of the music industry, Anu enjoys a similar place in the musical family tree of Australia as Franklin does for the US.

But the powerful voice and trailblazing place Franklin made for herself has always inspired Anu.

Songs like Respect, (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman as well as Chain of Fools and Today I Sing The Blues have been part of Anu's life since she was young.

"I would be lying if I said it wasn't a bit scary; it was completely daunting to begin with," Anu said.

"But I really loved the idea of demonstrating my versatility, in the resurgence we have now of doing classic music no one's really doing Aretha."

As much as belting out the timelessly popular songs gives Anu a buzz, introducing some of the lesser-known parts of Franklin's repertoire to people that might not be aware of them also makes every show a treat.

During the show, Rewind: The Aretha Franklin Songbook, Anu likes to tell stories about the origin of songs.

"There's one particular one that's basically the very first song.

"This song is the reason she was signed at the age of 18 by John Hammond to CBS Columbia records," she said.

"Hammond almost didn't sign her, but he listened to it again and the rest is history - that was the song Today I Sing the Blues.

"If you're not of the 60s vintage, it's very hard to know these things exist - that's the wonderful thing about doing a show like Rewind, I can tell the stories."

Performing live holds a strong attraction to Anu, however, combining that with her family life can be tough, softened slightly by the rave reviews the current tour is attracting.

"I'm going out to scratch that performing itch, I just have to get back on the road again," she said.

"I leave to go on tour and my 16-year-old is going through Year 12 right now, so he needs support with that and my 10-year-old has extra curricular activities every day, doing ballet and just about every type of dance available.

"I miss out on all of this when I go away, so when I hear these reviews I feel a little bit better about having to go away."

Christine Anu performs on Friday, June 7, at Sawtell RSL.


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