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Instagram for music

07 Sep 2017

Instagram for music Image

By Kate Mani

Melbourne-based singer Fem Belling will perform little-known American jazz songs by popular artists in her upcoming performance “Unsung” at the Melbourne Recital Centre.

The performer will delve into the 1920-1950s “Great American Songbook”, which involved musicians like George Gershwin, Harold Arlen and Cole Porter.

For Belling, raising awareness about previously unknown songs is vital to ensure “absolute gems” are not lost among popular favourites.

Growing up in a jazz-performing family, Belling said her entry into the genre was inevitable but that she pursued a path in musical theatre first.

“I think my musical theatre streak was me rebelling against the jazz in the house,” she said. “I’ve always come back to jazz, I feel like it has always been there.”

Belling’s musical experience is shaped by her performance space and singing at Southbank’s Recital Centre means entering an established musical legacy.

“I think we do ourselves an injustice by not getting excited about the venue,” she said.

“To hear that grand piano, the Recital Centre atmosphere, the clientele … it’s an honour to contribute and be part of that world.”

South-African born Belling’s music is heavily inspired by a nostalgia for the rhythmic, happy sounds of her country of origin.

“South African music influences all my creative choices,” she said. “I definitely fly the flag for South African music.”

Outside of her American Songbook work, Belling’s Youtube channel blends old-school melodies with contemporary tunes as she performs jazz covers of pop songs from Adele to Pharrell Williams.

“I take pop songs and put a vintage filter on them and turn them into jazz songs. It’s basically Insta for music,” she said.

“It’s Ella Fitzgerald meets Eminem, instead of rapping in an Eminem song I’ll be scatting (wordless singing).”

By making jazz “pop”, Belling hopes to “get (young people) away from Netflix” and engaged in a musical genre.”

Belling’s musical experience is wide-spanning, having appeared in the 2015 season of The Voice and recently “pinching herself” as she performed at the world-famous Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in London.

No matter where she sings, Belling is driven by the same passion for music, her “oxygen.”

“I get so much adrenaline and enjoyment out of performing,” she said.

“I’d never be able to function without music. I don’t really have a choice in the matter.”

Unsung will be held on Saturday, September 16 at 7pm at the Melbourne Recital Centre.

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