Guardian Express - - MUSIC -

LIBBY Ham­mer had a long and var­ied list of jobs “just to make a dol­lar” be­fore a rev­e­la­tion one day sent her down the ca­reer path of singing jazz.

“I al­ways wanted to be a per­former and I didn’t care what kind of per­former, I just wanted to be on stage,” Ham­mer said.

“I did cir­cus for a few years, was a birth­day party clown, was Wil­bur the Wild­cat mas­cot for a while and did singing tele­grams.

“Then I was pump­ing petrol in my clown out­fit one day and some­one looked over and made a com­ment.

“I didn’t feel cool and I just wanted to be cool, so I de­cided to be a jazz singer.”

Ham­mer had dis­cov­ered jazz when she was 19 while vis­it­ing her older sis­ter who was play­ing a Bil­lie Hol­i­day record and drink­ing black cof­fee.

“I thought she was cool and I’d never heard mu­sic like it,” she said.

“I was brought up on clas­si­cal mu­sic, and boo­gie-woo­gie and blues. My dad plays boo­gie-woo­gie pi­ano and I loved Patsy Cline and Judy Gar­land.

“I al­ways loved retro mu­sic but I hadn’t heard of mod­ern jazz, so it was a new sound for me and I loved it.”

Ham­mer, who had stud­ied a French lan­guages de­gree at UWA, suc­cess­fully au­di­tioned for the jazz course at WAAPA and grad­u­ated in 1997.

“I think study­ing jazz taught me more about my­self,” she said.

“Back when I wanted to do mu­sic the­atre I would have been learn­ing how to be other peo­ple, but in jazz I was learn­ing to be my­self.

“I love the jazz scene and of course, it’s cool.”

Ham­mer will share her jazz cool­ness at the Perth In­ter­na­tional Jazz Fes­ti­val, from Novem­ber 9 to 11, where she will lead the Jazz Club Choir in­spired by the Pub Choir con­cept.

Any­one can join in re­hearsals to sing swing in three-part har­mony, on Novem­ber 9, 10 and 11, 10am­noon at the State The­atre Cen­tre Court­yard.

There is then the op­tion of per­form­ing these songs with Ham­mer and a band on the Perth Cul­tural Cen­tre Wet­lands Stage at 3pm on Novem­ber 11.

“It will be nice and easy, noth­ing too dif­fi­cult and some­thing we can get to­gether quickly,” Ham­mer said.

“There’s no pres­sure, you don’t have to learn any­thing and you don’t even have to sing in tune; it’s jazz.

“It’s a bit of an un­known for me but we’ll have a ball, I’m sure.”

The Perth In­ter­na­tional Jazz Fes­ti­val pro­gram is at www.perthin­ter­na­tional jaz­zfes­ti­­mu­ni­ d487958

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