Mama Alto on Record
After six years of acclaimed cabaret performances, diva Mama Alto and her musical directress Miss Chief spent November 2016 in an extraordinary entirely analogue recording facility for vinyl records. Recorded live to tape on original vintage sound equipment – including an actual machine used by Nat King Cole himself at Capitol Records, and an RCA microphone of the kind favoured by Sarah Vaughan – the result is a stunning capture of 25 of their best loved song interpretations from their extensive jazz repertoire.
- “Mama Alto is an exceptionally talented singer, who makes the question as to whether it is a woman or a man singing obsolete. It is clearly an angel.” (The Conversation)
- “Divine.” (The Havana Tribune)
- “Near flawless.” (The Age)
- “A knockout.” (Herald Sun)
The recordings are ready, under the watchful and diligent technical mastery of Alex Bennett at Sound Recordings. Now it is time to release them.
We envisage four releases, thematically tied together. Each will be released on vinyl record, compact disc, and digital download. Together, the four form an anthology. “Songbird” comprises our much loved ballads, whilst “Lady Sings the Blues” captures our landmark Melbourne Recital Centre tribute to 100 years of Billie Holiday. “Torch Songs” indulges in our moodiest blues, and “Salon Series” delights in the lighter and flirtatious tunes. Rounding out that anthology, a fifth record contains a selection of three of our favourites from the much loved annual tradition, the Mama Alto Christmas Special (now in its sixth incarnation).
You can help us make this record release a reality! The music is recorded and ready to be set free on the world. Join us to make it soar.
But… Who is Mama Alto?
Mama Alto is a gender transcendent diva, cabaret artiste, jazz singer & community activist. She is a non-binary trans femme person of colour who works with the radical potential of storytelling, strength in softness & power in vulnerability. Fierce, femme & fabulous, she has been lauded as “divine” (Havana Tribune, Cuba), “near flawless” (The Age), and “a knockout” (The Herald Sun). She fascinates audiences with “an idiosyncratic mix of statuesque fragility” (The Music) and is described as “transcendent” (Stage Whispers), “breathtaking” (ArtsHub), “hypnotically beautiful, elegant & mysterious” (Adelaide Advertiser) & “bewitching” (SameSame). Drawing on legacies of vintage torch singers & her own identity as a queer person of colour, Mama Alto’s vocal & visual aesthetic transcend gender, disrupting & discomforting societal constructions of dichotomous boundaries. Sexually & racially ambiguous, by embracing perceived difference she reclaims narratives of Othering, defies the normative & rejoices in the sublime.
And… What has Mama Alto done before?
Past festival credits include: Adelaide Cabaret Festival, Adelaide Fringe, American Songbook Festival, Castlemaine State Festival, Darwin Festival, Fringe World Perth, Havana International Theatre Festival, Marysville Jazz & Blues, Melbourne Cabaret Festival, Melbourne Fringe Festival, Midsumma & Stonnington Jazz Festival. Mama has performed at venues such as: Arts Centre Melbourne, Bendigo Art Gallery (Bendigo), Bruno’s Art Gallery (Marysville), Brisbane Powerhouse (Brisbane), The Butterfly Club, Chapel off Chapel, The Copa Room at the Havana Riviera (Havana, Cuba), Entrecôte, Hares & Hyenas, La Boheme (Adelaide), The Melba Spiegeltent, Melbourne Recital Centre, MPavillion, National Gallery of Victoria, RMIT Design Hub & Sofitel Melbourne on Collins. She was the recipient of the 2014 Weekly Award for Best Cabaret at Adelaide Fringe, the 2016 Outstanding Access Award at Melbourne Fringe & a 2015 Nominee for GLOBE LGBTI Artist of the Year. Mama has worked with Brook Andrew, Phillip Adams BalletLab, featured in Declan Greene’s “The Homosexuals” for Malthouse Theatre Company, is a proud alumni of Monash Uni Student Theatre & a company member of Finucane & Smith including during their CHAMACO Award winning tour for Best International Production in Cuba.
More information & images can be found at www.facebook.com/mamaalto or www.mamaalto.com
OK… So who took these fabulous photos?
We thought you’d never ask – all photography on this campaign page is by Alexis Desaulniers-Lea.
How The Funds Will Be Used
For our Pozible fundraising goal, we’ve set the all-or-nothing target at $8000. However, this is actually only a small portion of our costs:
Studio time, engineer & recording costs – $2500
Production of 150x 12″ Vinyl Records at $2500, multiplied by 4 distinct releases – $10,000
Production of 150x Compact Discs at $415.80, multiplied by 4 distinct releases – $1663.20
APRA/AMCOS licensing rights – $2000
Digital distribution costs – $100
Total costs: $16,263.20
If we reach our all-or-nothing target and continue to climb towards the total costs – that would be incredible! Otherwise we hope to make our costs back through sales of the records.
We face many challenges in this project, so let’s be upfront about them!
Challenge: Project management.
Coordinating a large scale project across multiple release formats like this one is a gargantuan challenge.
Solutions: Our years of experience & our amazing team!
Mama Alto and Miss Chief now have six years of experience under their collective belts in managing, coordinating, producing and delivering high quality artistic output – performances and events. Meanwhile, our recording engineer Alex Bennett is a master craftsman and expert technician, with excellent working relationships to all our chosen manufacturers.
Challenge: The recording.
Making a recording of our most loved material from the last six years of live performance is a tall order.
Solutions: We’ve already done it!
Mama Alto and Miss Chief spent a secret month in November 2016 laying down single-take live performances on exquisite analogue recording equipment. And it’s all ready for release!
Challenge: Raising the funds.
This is perhaps our most pressing challenge. Can we raise enough money to make the leap from live performance to recorded cabaret stars?
This is when we reach out to you, our treasured audience and community. We cannot wait to shower you with rewards and most importantly, our finished records in vinyl, CD and digital formats for your enjoyment. Will you help us?