Q&A:

Greta Brad­man, so­prano & psy­chol­o­gist, 36

The Weekend Australian - Magazine - - CONTENTS - Greta Brad­man

The love song Every Day Is A Rain­bow Day For Me was writ­ten in 1930 by your grand­fa­ther Sir Don­ald Brad­man. Why record it now? We are a very pri­vate fam­ily but now I feel like I can cel­e­brate the fact that my grandpa wrote a piece of mu­sic for my grandma Jessie; I’m so proud of him for that. The fact he was a crick­eter is in­ci­den­tal. The point is it con­nects me with a sense of fam­ily, which is what the album is all about.

What do you think of when you sing it? How grandma was the light of grandpa’s life, the rain­bow in his sky. Re­la­tion­ships aren’t all smooth sail­ing, but they made it look pretty easy.

Your fourth album Home is about fam­ily, friends and grat­i­tude. Is your re­cov­ery from neck surgery part of all that? It was a real “aha” mo­ment for me. In 2016 I had a branchial cleft fis­tula (a con­gen­i­tal ab­nor­mal­ity) fixed and my ton­sils re­moved, and I couldn’t talk for a while. When my voice did start to come back I sounded like a billy goat. I hon­estly did not think I would sing any­more. I just thought, “Oh bug­ger it, if I have the chance to sing again, this is the album I’d like to make.”

How im­por­tant is home for you? I think about it a lot. Hav­ing kids (Jude and Cas­par, with hus­band Di­dier Elzinga) does that to you, par­tic­u­larly when you travel. I’m an un­likely singer in a way; I love to sing and make mu­sic but I’m no diva. For me it’s about the small moments, the con­nec­tion be­tween peo­ple.

Fame, on the other hand, is some­thing your ex­tended fam­ily re­jected… I think fame is noth­ing to as­pire to. Grandpa had a sense that fame can be a cage and doesn’t pro­vide any­thing use­ful in one’s life, and I took that on board.

You were raised in Ade­laide un­der the name Brad­son. Why did you change it back to Brad­man in your teens? The whole fam­ily did. Af­ter my grandma died in 1997, Dad sug­gested it be­cause Grandpa was then sort of alone in his name. Grandpa was re­ally touched. But I am so glad I grew up Brad­son – no one made the con­nec­tion. Grandpa to­tally got it – he and dad were hum­ble peo­ple who wanted to be treated nor­mally.

You re­vealed in 2015 that you strug­gled with men­tal health is­sues in your late teens and tried to dam­age your voice. Was the idea of be­ing in the spot­light that ter­ri­fy­ing? I love mu­sic but I have al­ways found be­ing the cen­tre of at­ten­tion re­ally un­com­fort­able. That’s prob­a­bly why I was push­ing [a mu­si­cal ca­reer] away. I didn’t want to have a pub­lic pro­file.

Why did you study psy­chol­ogy? I am fas­ci­nated with what drives peo­ple and gives them mean­ing; how we can live our most rewarding, ful­fill­ing life. I’m also in­ter­ested in as­pects of performance, in­clud­ing anx­i­ety, and op­ti­mis­ing men­tal health.

What brought you back to mu­sic? Around the time I de­cided to focus pri­mar­ily on singing (2010), I de­cided: hang on, this is clas­si­cal mu­sic! It’s not bought in this coun­try. Even if I man­age to scale the heights, I’ll still be able to walk down the street…

In 2017 you made your Opera Aus­tralia de­but as Mimi in La Bo­hème. How much of a chal­lenge was that? I love doing opera. I can’t do a lot of it be­cause I’ve made the de­ci­sion to spend more time with my fam­ily. But the process is won­der­ful; it’s very col­le­gial. Be­ing one of many is just the best.

i’m so proud of grandpa for writ­ing a song for grandma

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