PLENTY OF SOUL

Vika Bull is in her el­e­ment per­form­ing in At Last – The Etta James Story, which in­ter­weaves the Etta James story with songs from her ca­reer

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - PLAY | LIVE & LOUD - KERSTIN KEHREN

There’s value in remembering mu­si­cians of the past, says Vika Bull. The 49-year-old singer was just a teenager when soul­ful Amer­i­can singer Etta James en­tered her life. At the time, she was part of a mu­sic group.

“The bass player in that band gave me Etta’s records and said ‘Have you heard this singer? You should take her home and lis­ten to her be­cause I reckon you’d re­ally dig it’ and I did and I fell in love with her and I’ve been lis­ten­ing to her ever since,” Bull says.

These days, Bull sings Etta James pro­fes­sion­ally, star­ring in At Last – The Etta James Story. The show will be per­formed on the Gold Coast this week­end.

It was de­vel­oped by Moira Ben­nett and John Liv­ings and the idea was brought to Bull’s at­ten­tion soon af­ter the death of James in 2012.

“So they asked me and I thought about it for a few days and then said ‘yes’ and I’m re­ally glad that I did,” Bull says.

The show’s cre­ators were re­cep­tive to Bull’s own in­put.

“They were very open and, you know, to sug­ges­tions and they asked me what were my favourite Etta songs and yeah, we worked to­gether on the set list,” Bull says.

The show in­ter­weaves the Etta James story with songs from her ca­reer. Bull ap­pears as her­self in the show.

“We’ve tried to do it so that, you know, there are lots of songs in there that peo­ple will recog­nise be­cause peo­ple don’t re­alise just how many Etta James songs they know,” Bull says.

“They only think they know At Last and that’s not the case.”

Bull says she is pleased with peo­ple’s happy re­sponse to the pro­duc­tion. But she ad­mits there is a pres­sure that comes with car­ry­ing At Last – The Etta James Story.

“I try and sing it, you know, as true to the orig­i­nal as I can,” she says of her in­ter­pre­ta­tion of James’ voice. James’s life was not per­fect. “I had no idea she had, you know, bat­tled a drug ad­dic­tion,” Bull says.

At Last – The Etta James Story, Twin Towns, Tweed Heads, Satur­day night

Vika Bull stars in At Last: The Etta James Story.

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