“SOMETIMES people cock their heads and look at me like a labrador as if to say, ‘what are you?’” laughs Kate Ceberano.“I’m a marriage of so many ethnicities, I kind of feel like I’m the face of modern Australia.”
Speaking from her hotel room in Florida, Ceberano is contemplating her exotic looks while in the midst of finishing off her latest album and, she says excitedly, her autobiography.
It seems like an appropriate time to reflect on her life – after all, the pop, jazz and soul diva has been in the industry for almost 30 years now.
Since she first arrived on the music scene in the early 1980s, the Melbourne singer-songwriter has 20 albums under her belt, including the gold and platinum releases “Brave”, “Pash” and “Blue Box”, and has won a Logie, four ARIA and three MO awards.
Ceberano will lend her voice to Canberra’s National Multicultural Festival, which she is the “face” of this year.
“I’m very proud to be the face of the festival, and do a few gigs while I’m there…I’ve heard about the wonderful potpourri of colour, the vibrancy,” she says.
“My father is Filipino, he was raised in Hawaii, and my mother’s side is Swedish and English… and I’ve never felt any less Australian for it. In fact, I feel like the big poster child for the Multicultural Festival!”
Ceberano laments she hasn’t been to Canberra “in ages… it’s disgraceful” – but she’s excited to be catching up on long lost time. Canberra’s thriving art scene, she says, is one to be reckoned with.
“You guys get the very best of the art exhibitions that come from overseas, and I’m a big fan, I love going to the gallery,” she says.
Never afraid to dip her finger in too many pies, Ceberano admits she has trouble keeping out of the spotlight – “I do tend to get nervous when I stop working,” she laughs.
In recent years she has become the ambassador for underwear maker Berlei, hosted weight-loss show “Excess Baggage” for Channel 9, appeared on “Dancing with the Stars” and starred in the Australian production of the musical “South Pacific” as Bloody Mary; a role that earned her a Best Supporting Actress nomination at the Sydney Theatre Awards.
Ceberano says setting new goals and trying different things are all part of her secret to career longevity.
“You’ve got to apply yourself…in the arts, you’ve got the idea you can wing it, but it’s got rules like any other business, you’ve got to show up, you’ve got to work, you can’t just be really charismatic and hope it’ll get you there, it’s an industry at the end of the day – one I love,” she says.
So is there room for a second autobiography in another 30 years?
“I think I’ll just keep going and going,” Ceberano says, with a husky laugh.
“I’ll be 80 years old with a walking stick, dancing on stage saying ‘what do you want me to sing? Let’s do this!’”
The National Multicultural Festival, February 8-10, Garema Place, Civic.