French-Australian jazz singer Emma Hamilton told Helen Goltz what she loves about her life.
The beguiling 25-year-old Emma Hamilton will be visiting our city for the Brisbane French Festival in July, fresh from touring Europe with Tommy Emmanuel. No stranger to the stage, the French-Australian singer/songwriter has also opened for Christine Anu, Paulini, and sold out her own shows.
“Making music my career is my dream,” the former French teacher says. “Touring with Tommy—from Berlin through to Moscow—was definitely a highlight for me, as I grew up listening to Tommy. Being on those enormous stages in front of thousands – life couldn’t get better.”
Born in Melbourne to a French mother and Australian father, Hamilton was raised speaking French.
“Until I started school I was better at French than English,” Hamilton says. “I remember going to France with Mum and when I returned I couldn’t remember how to say basic words in English like ‘bread’. I guess now I think in English.”
Hamilton’s new album La Musique on the ABC Jazz label was produced by her brother Tom. The two are no strangers to performing together – they shared the stage in the band The Hamiltons (later known as Caroline) and have toured together.
“My connection with my brother Tom is intrinsic. We connect so strongly on a musical level because we grew up playing music together. I don’t think a bond like that can arise from any other relationship,” Hamilton says.
“When Tom and I take solos and improvise together, we will always know where the other is headed,” she says.
“Making our album La Musique was an amazing experience and even though I was doing the singing, Tom’s musical contribution matched what I was doing.”
Hamilton says touring with her brother has made them best friends, but they still have their arguments.
“When we fight you don’t want to be around,” she jokes, but she acknowledges the value of keeping Tom on side. “It’s great on the road because Tom can carry my accordion when it gets too heavy for me.”
Hamilton, who confesses to being a genre-hopper when song writing, is looking forward to her next project to take her to the next level.
“As a musician, once you achieve one set of goals, a whole other set become apparent! I am working on an album of entirely my own songs,” she says.
“I love so many genres in music: French music lends itself to the more passionate side of a singer, and the French language impacts on the level of emotion that you can instil into the songs; I really love music with rhythm and contrasts and I like to write in all genres from jazz, swamp, 60s pop, swing, New Orleans.”
And of course the big question, did she take French as a subject at school and nail it?
“Yeah I was pretty cheeky!” Hamilton admits. “My teacher was great – by the time I was in year 12, I would test the class with her … she would take half the class and I took the other.”
So what can we expect from Emma Hamilton at the Brisbane French Festival?
“We played this festival a couple of years ago, and it was a highlight of the year for us,” she says.
“This year we are doing a slightly different show. The audiences can expect to hear some French classics from Piaf, Charles Trenet to Aznavour and of course our own original French music. And there will be an accordion, so what more could you ask for?”
What: Emma Hamilton performing at the Brisbane French Festival.
Where: South Bank Parklands
When: Saturday 12 July, check the website to confirm times.
Tickets: Entry to the Brisbane French Festival $5 per adult, children free