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Brief Encounter with … Singer Kate Dimbleby

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Kate Dimbleby is celebrating the women who’s music inspires her in a her new show, I’m A Woman, for a 5-week run at the New End Theatre, Hampstead. She continues her partnership with Cirque du Soleil director Cal McCrystal, with whom she is working for the third time.

Accompanied by her four piece band, The Honky Tonk Angels, Kate will be performing music by singers and songwriters including Bessie Smith, Dolly Parton and Dusty Springfield. Exploring the highs and lows of a woman’s life, Kate's soulful renderings will draw on her experiences of being both a mother of two and a professional musician.

You are back on the stage after an extended maternity leave with a new show with your show, I’m A Woman, but do you think it will also appeal to a male audience?

Of course!  I really want men to be in the audience too - it's always better having a mix.  The show is very inclusive even if it has the odd little jibe about certain kinds of men!

You are working with Cirque du Soleil’s director Cal McCrystal for the third time. What is it about your partnership that has led you to work together on so many occasions?

Cal has become a really good friend over the years and just has this amazing knack of knowing what is needed for a show - in terms of pacing, comedy, little looks.  He also gets what I do - and is brilliant at gently pushing me to create something bigger and better than I could even imagine.  We have a four piece band on stage too, and over the years, my band have become more and more involved - much of that is thanks to Cal.

I’m A Woman is inspired by your own experiences of growing up and having a family. At what point in your life were you inspired to create this show, and how much has the idea changed since then?

There were two points - the birth of my daughter and the death of my grandmother.  That makes it sound very serious but I just had this overwhelming feeling that I needed to create a show that celebrates women in all their different ways.  There are so many ideas out there in the media about who you should be and I think all the singers in my show proved you can be whoever you want.

The show features music by singer/songwriters such as Bessie Smith, Peggy Lee… how do you identify with these women?

I toured a one-woman show about Peggy Lee for many years.  People had said I sounded like her but I didn't want to do a slavish imitation - I knew it wouldn't work so I had to develop my own version of her through that.  I guess that gave me a taste for singers of that era but of course, I have nothing apparently in common with someone like Bessie Smith.  She is just an extraordinary woman and I guess my show is about finding out what connects you on a deeper lever rather than the obvious differences. .

You are doing 35 shows over a 5-week run. As a solo singer you are going to need some stamina to perform so many times, do you have any secrets?

I haven't even started the run yet but I guess sleep and chamomile tea feature quite highly.

Which song on the set list is the most empowering for a woman like yourself, to sing? Why?

I think Sophie Tucker's "I'm Living Alone and I Like It" is a really empowering song.  She was so ahead of her time.  It's about a woman extolling the joys of living in your own place, without someone to be accountable to.  Having your own keys, your own money etc.  When we did the previews, there were several 20 year olds who came up to me and said - "That song describes my life!"

What’s different about this show from previous ones?

It's been great to have some time off - I feel like this show has all the best bits of previous things I've done and goes a bit further.  The band are really involved too, playing lots of different instruments and lots of backing vocals.  It is probably more personal than anything I've ever done too.

Kate Dimbleby's show, I’m A Woman, is at the New End Theatre, Hampstead 31 August to 3 October.


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