Flashback to a 1950’s jazz nightclub. The lights are dim, the air is smoky, and the murmurs are faint. Amongst the muted shadows and huddling bodies, a spotlight is awakened from the corner, its fiery brightness singeing a glowing sphere onstage. The distinct click of heels comes tapping up the tread of the stairs, and suddenly a figure is seen coming into the light. With a quiet confidence and looks that could kill, this songstress takes the mic by the hand, exhibiting an inviting, kittenish voice that has the whole audience glued to her. Only this isn’t the 1950’s; this is the present day and Kat Edmonson is about to give her fans a myriad of musical festivities they have been waiting for at the One World Theatre.
While Austin’s Kat Edmonson is the city’s present day songbird, she makes you feel as though you are in another time and place when listening to her. Petite in stature, with a blonde pixie cut and large doe eyes, she looks like a modern day Mia Farrow with the singing chops of other Jazz greats like Cassandra Wilson or Madeleine Peyroux. Although Edmonson never had any formal training, she was quick to start climbing the ladder of musical notoriety. While she traveled around the U.S. performing music and even had a stint on American Idol, she returned to her Austin roots and singing at open mics, and soon her sound was well-known with the River City locals. With the release of her album, “Take to the Sky,” Edmonson proved her jazz prowess nationwide. Straddling the lines of both contemporary and vintage, she transforms classic jazz songs and tunes of her own into a sound that anyone could enjoy now, while still maintaining the girlish, sultry croon of another era that she is famous for.
On December 11th, Kat Edmonson performed at the One World Theatre to an auditorium brimming with Austinites and out-of-towners alike. Dressed in a sparkly white top and standing next to an evergreen tree bedecked in twinkling lights, this show was all about the holidays. And of course, there was a spin on the performance too. Throughout the night, Edmonson had a plethora of her musician friends join the stage to accompany her to sing some favorite seasonal tunes. Asleep at the Wheel’s own Ray Benson commenced the stage first, giving Edmonson a bear hug that lifted her off the floor and performing several duets that were full of many jokes and smiles. It was fantastic to see the juxtaposition of Benson’s towering being and deep voice against Edmonson’s petite figure and coquettish purr, creating an extraordinary experience that audience members will remember for a long time.
Benson’s performance was followed by many other locals taking the stage, including the vocal talents of Laura Scarborough, Floyd Domino on piano and Elias Haslanger on saxophone. Each musician brought a unique sound and range to the theatre, creating a fete of differing duets that covered songs like “Baby, it’s Cold Outside” and “Let it Snow.” Edmonson even managed to sneak in a few tracks from her new album, slated for release in February 2012. The favorite of the night, though, may have been Kat Edmonson’s interpretation of “Santa Baby.” Although different in tone than the original 1953 Eartha Kitt rendition, Edmonson’s combination of sass and innocence through her voice brought that quintessential “wink wink” to the classic that had patrons laughing throughout.
Even though I have seen Kat Edmonson in clubs and venues all over Austin, she truly shined while performing at the One World Theatre. Her stunning voice accompanied by her friends and a myriad of instruments could be heard crystal clear within the intimate, acoustically-sound venue. While Edmonson continues to gain notoriety nationally and her star progressively rises among larger and larger crowds, it was very special to see her in an auditorium of only 300 seats and experience her music in such an up close and personal way. Edmonson is one of Austin’s greatest talents, and combined with the One World Theatre, she had everyone feeling the spirit of the season. Happy Holidays!