Kat Edmonson: 'I Hear Myself As An Instrument' The singer, whose voice is often compared to Billie Holiday's, says she can't accept that honor right out — but that she and Holiday do share a similar understanding of the role of the voice.

Kat Edmonson: 'I Hear Myself As An Instrument'

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A new music video from Kat Edmonson is kind of like a time machine into the 1960s.


KAT EDMONSON: (Singing) You string me along, my friends say it's wrong. They tell me I'm crazy.

SIMON: Her song "Rainy Day Woman" recalls those Technicolor days, with her short bobbed hair and big eyes that peer out from under an umbrella.


EDMONSON: (Singing) Well, never mind the weather.

SIMON: Kat Edmonson looks like she's just stepped out of "Breakfast At Tiffany's."


EDMONSON: (Singing) Why do you run away and save me for a rainy day?

SIMON: Her latest album is aptly titled "The Big Picture" and Kat Edmonson joins us now from New York. Thanks much for being with us.

EDMONSON: Thanks for having me.

SIMON: I gather film music has always inspired you.

EDMONSON: It has. My mom had a collection of records that was quite vast and some of it included movie scores; soundtracks. And I learned music through watching old movies, musicals. And I just fell in love with the marriage of cinema and music together. I remember being four years old and thinking that I was just like Gene Kelly on the screen singing. I knew that I could sing, too.

SIMON: You have such a distinctive voice. Let's listen to your singing on this track, "Oh My Love."


EDMONSON: (Singing) Oh my love, how can I show my love? It's not enough just to kiss you.

SIMON: That's just a wonderful song. And you sing it so beautifully.

EDMONSON: Thank you.

SIMON: I mean, who wouldn't be flattered, but how do you react to these descriptions that compare you with Billie Holiday?

EDMONSON: Well, I'm afraid I have trouble accepting that at all. But I think people might make that comparison because what I understand that she was trying to do with her voice was to emulate a horn; specifically, Louis Armstrong playing the trumpet. And much of my approach to singing has been similar. I hear myself as an instrument playing with the band.


EDMONSON: (Singing) If you forget, oh wonder that you are, I will remind you. And if you lose yourself, don't worry darling, I'll know where to find you. I'm right behind you all the way.

SIMON: What's it like to make - to go, as you did, from playing coffeehouses in Austin to now being with a major record label and a little bit more access to an audience - let's put it that way?

EDMONSON: Well, it's what I've always hoped for, just a bigger platform. And I feel comfortable functioning from that platform. I have grand visions of what I'd like to do and I think I rise to the occasion. So it feels more appropriate that I would be playing my music in front of the audiences that I can access now, more so than singing behind a loud espresso machine or a clinking bar.

SIMON: (Laughter). Yeah, that can be rough when you're just getting started, I'll bet.


SIMON: Another track we'd like to listen to - this one, "Avion."


EDMONSON: (Singing) Sunday in the park he had me seeing sparks. Now it's up in the air, swear I still care and I get back to New York. Avion, I want to run across the sea and around the sun something else for me, but no one else can see.

SIMON: Would you like to do a movie soundtrack?

EDMONSON: Yes. That would be a great dream of mine to come true. Even from creating my first album, I thought, wouldn't it be amazing to have an album that sounds like the score of a movie? And very naturally, every song that I wrote I imagined some scene in a film.

SIMON: Yeah. Is there a song on this album that you can lead us away with?

EDMONSON: Sure. I think "For Two" is an appropriate song to lead away with. When I was working on it, I imagined two people on horseback in an old Western, riding off in the distance.


EDMONSON: (Singing) And as they talked the hours away.

SIMON: So on this one they're riding out of town on the buckboard, like Gary Cooper, Grace Kelly?

EDMONSON: (Laughter) Yes. Yes, just like that.

SIMON: Well, Kat Edmonson. Her new album is called "The Big Picture." She joins us from New York. Thank you so much for being with us.

EDMONSON: Thank you, Scott.


EDMONSON: (Singing) And everything they'd ever do now would be for you.

SIMON: And you can see corrections and changes to our program at npr.org/corrections. This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.

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