ARIA-winning and 3x Platinum-selling artist Kate Ceberano graced the Brisbane Powerhouse’s Stage this afternoon, with the audience’s general sentiment being that of wonder and amazement as she sang a handful of songs that meant a great deal to the her, and reflected on her time and experience in the music industry.
Ceberano opened by acknowledging that there is a shift in who record labels are signing, then lamented that the general culture around career artists is that Australian society doesn’t value career artists enough. She noted that she feels that some see pursuing a career as an artist as a “choice” rather than a livelihood, and something that is worth being paid to do.
Performing since the age of 14 in venues around Australia, Ceberano confessed to the audience that “there isn’t anything else in the world that I can do besides this,” explaining that this is why she’s a passionate supporter of emerging talent and champions young artists in a mentoring capacity.
For a great deal of her career, Kate Ceberano’s mother was her manager and biggest supporter, which was sometimes used against the pair of them in a business environment. Ceberano expressed to the audience that often it’s the people surrounding the artists that get hurt the most in the industry. Kate’s mother Cherie was savaged, talked down to, and belittled by A&R reps and other industry types because she was a working mother of four.
Cherie was told time after time that she wasn’t competent enough to deal with all aspects of Kate’s career – which is baffling when you look back at how successful Kate’s career has been. It got so bad that Kate stopped calling her “mum” in professional settings because she felt it was diminishing, and eventually, Cherie retired from the business altogether.
Talking about her treatment in the music industry over her career, Kate Ceberano confessed that she’s embarrassed about the way she’s been treated in business meetings and in the general industry.
Opening up on one instance of terrible treatment, Ceberano has been told by people she’s worked with that they wished they’d “had” her when she was younger, which may have been intended as harmless, but caused irreparable damage to the way she feels about her place in the industry. Ceberano noted that she believes that being “brave” in the business is what will see women succeed in it.
Sharing a more light-hearted moment from her youth, Ceberano told the audience that she woke up one morning in a Bondi hotel after an awards night to Michael Hutchence sleeping on her balcony as he’d scaled up the building’s façade the night before to try and see her. When she called her mum in an excited hysteria to tell her what had happened, Cherie responded with “well, let him in!”.
When the floor was opened to questions, Kate Ceberano was asked about her best piece of advice to young women trying to establish their careers in the industry, to which the audience was expecting something super profound to match the tone of the hour-long keynote we’d just sat through.
It was at this point that Ceberano shot back with a very passionate joking but serious plead “don’t sleep with your drummer,” which are still probably sound words to live by. Kate also stressed that artists mustn’t fall into the mindset of “this isn’t my time”, give themselves an excuse for failure, or obsess about the value of their art, as it’s not essential to know to create good music.
At the conclusion of her keynote speech, the audience stood and clapped, applauding a woman who has faced it all and lived to tell the tale.