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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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

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

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "RAINY DAY WOMAN")

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.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "RAINY DAY WOMAN")

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

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

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "RAINY DAY WOMAN")

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."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "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.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "OH MY LOVE")

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.

EDMONSON: Yeah.

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

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "AVIAN")

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.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FOR TWO")

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.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FOR TWO")

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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