Diaa Bekheet | Washington, DC – American singer and songwriter Kat Edmonson is a rising jazz star. The unique musician has been writing songs since she was nine years old. The amazing thing is that Edmonson doesn’t master any instruments.
“I compose the music in my head usually and then I go figure out what the chords are later,” explains the jazz sensation in an interview with VOA’s Jazz Beat (mp3).
“Usually, it’s not just a melody that I have. I’ll simultaneously be writing words and the chords either implied or I know what they are,” she says. “I just have to go in and determine, you know, identify the name of the chord but I usually have a pretty accurate idea from the get go about this, what the entire song is about and even production-wise I’ll know that initially as I’m writing it. It all comes to me at once.”
National Public Radio describes the Texas native as “memorable and contagious.” Other music critics call her a “promising jazz singer” and a “rising star.”
Edmonson grew up as an only child with a single mom. She spent a lot of time daydreaming and avidly absorbing her mother’s collection of old movies, musicals and records.
“She [mother] was working day and night to take care of us,” the musician recalls. “A lot of time she would pop up a VHS [video] tape for me to watch when she was busy.”
Edmonson admits those “standards” from her childhood had a strong effect on her – especially those of Frank Sinatra, Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Judy Garland, various jazz artists, The Beatles, and Motown artists.
“So, I became very familiar with that repertoire,” she says.
Edmonson has performed with country superstar Willie Nelson, opened for Smokey Robinson, and toured with Boz Scaggs and Lyle Lovett. She has released two albums: Way Down Low which went on sale this year, and Take To The Sky which came out in 2009.
According to her official bio, Take to The Sky is an homage to songwriters. Edmonson says her first album was “me trying to question what a standard actually is, and what popular music is; taking tunes and using them as canvases for self-expression.” On the record, she re-interprets such storied works as “Summertime” along with more recent pop gems such as The Cardigans’ “Love Fool” and The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven”.
For more on jazz music, listen to VOA’s Jazz America