Conversation Corner: Australian soprano Mirusia and the Original Seekers
As the star soprano of André Rieu and the Johann Strauss Orchestra, Mirusia won hearts around the globe. In 2011, The Seekers joined the tour and an unpredictable bond was formed. In 2018, Mirusia celebrated the band’s 50th anniversary with a magnificent tribute album, A Salute to the Seekers. Now, they will come together once again, when Mirusia and The Seekers tour around Australia.
We chatted to Mirusia and The Seekers member Athol Guy to get the inside scoop on what we can expect from the tour.
What was the original inspiration behind your record, A Salute to The Seekers? A lot of people around the world know me as a classical crossover soprano, but I have always sung many different styles of music and enjoyed being a versatile performer. When Robert Rigby, from my record label, came to me and suggested A Salute to The Seekers, I was completely on board. The Seekers have always inspired me and I listened to their music when I was a young girl growing up in Brisbane. I have been so fortunate to work with them over the years and got to know them all individually.
Many people comment that The Seekers were never able to be put in a box, their style of music was unique, their sound was unique, and they didn’t simply fit into one genre. In that way, I am the same. It gives me the artistic freedom to sing the music I love, no matter what style.
What did you discover or learn about The Seekers music through recording the album? The Seekers were all involved in their own way during the whole recording process and it was a really exciting experience, especially hearing some of the backstories that most people don’t get to hear. In learning about the group, the thing that impressed me most was the integrity that they bring to the music and indeed their careers. What I mean by this is there are no scandals, no tabloids, nothing is fake – they just come out and perform the music they love, and in return, the audiences love them back. It’s a lesson for life.
How did the collaboration for this upcoming tour come about? We have already been on the road together in 2011 with Andre Rieu, so we all knew each other. The whole time I was in the studio recording A Salute To The Seekers, all four of The Seekers were involved in their own way with comments and ideas. At the same time, the boys were also in the studio recording their new album Back to Our Roots. Somehow, we came upon the crazy notion to tour together – the boys performing timeless songs from the early days of The Seekers from their new album, and I the classic Seekers songs from my album, and then coming together to sing some of The Seekers’ biggest hits.
Interpreting an artist’s body of work is such a beautiful tribute, how does it feel to then actually perform with the group? I’m pinching myself daily and I cannot believe that this incredible honour of performing The Seekers repertoire WITH the Original Seekers is actually happening. I’m most honoured and feel even more blessed that all of The Seekers are giving me permission and want me to sing their songs. The sound will, of course, be a bit different from The Seekers’ sound. Judith’s unique voice is so beautiful and has always been an inspiration to me, but I can never be Judith. My hope is to bring my voice to the songs while adding something to the legacy of the music.
Which songs are you most excited to perform on this tour? I truly feel that this collaboration brings me full circle. I remember being eight years old singing and dancing to The Seekers’ ‘Georgy Girl’ in our living room in Brisbane. Now we are opening our concert tour in Brisbane and I will be singing ‘Georgy Girl’ on stage with boys from The Seekers. The moment when we sing that song will be very special for me because in my mind’s eye will be that little girl with wild dreams of one day performing that song onstage.
What have you enjoyed most about getting the band back together for your new album Back to Our Roots? To me, the spontaneity and enjoyment of The Seekers’ early days as four boys was immediately revisited the moment we opened our mouths together. A flashback to our youthful energy and optimistic musical ambitions.
How does the music on Back to Our Roots connect with and add to The Seekers story? Back to our Roots provides the missing link to the Seekers’ recordings, and fills in a historic gap as we proceed to complete all elements necessary for a planned documentary celebrating the full and authentic Seekers Story.
What is it that defined The Seekers sound and how has this evolved? The Seekers sound developed in three distinct stages. Firstly, four boys who meshed their love of folk, blues, skiffle, and gospel classics with close group harmonics, and featured the distinctive leads of a young Ken Ray. Back To Our Roots pays homage to where this sound might have found its own niche. Judith joining the boys after Ken’s departure added a totally fresh and unique dimension from the jazz scene – a quantum leap. The collaboration with Tom Springfield put the sound to the world with his songs, and Keith’s superb and organic arranging skills, especially his classic 12-string guitar riffs and underpinning.
Which songs are you most excited to perform on this tour? We are still working on the set list, but my musical satisfaction will come from ‘Worried Man Blues’, ‘Last Thing on my Mind’ and ‘Irene’, and The Seekers classic ‘Carnival’ – it doesn’t get any better than that.
Looking back on your career, what does it mean to you that your music has been picked up by contemporary artists such as Mirusia and continued to transcend generations? Quite apart from Seekers tribute bands which are forming all over the world, the fact that individual artists such as Mirusia find a deep professional and personal connection with our music, confirms for me the cosmic magic we were blessed with as we developed a global following that still, 50 years later, is deeply entrenched in, and enjoyed by, families around the world.
Mirusia and The Original Seekers will perform at City Recital Hall, Sydney on Sunday 20 October and two performances at Melbourne Recital Centre on Saturday 2 November. Tickets are available via Ticketmaster.com.au.