Karen J White Remembers Kirsty MacColl At 2020 Adelaide Fringe

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  • Saturday, 29 February 2020 12:57
Published in Music  
Karen J White performs ‘My Tribute To Kirsty MacColl’ at 2020 Adelaide Fringe. Karen J White performs ‘My Tribute To Kirsty MacColl’ at 2020 Adelaide Fringe.

In ‘My Tribute To Kirsty MacColl’, Karen J White brings to the stage the songs of an underrated pop icon.

“For me, it’s simply about her varied style that I really love,” Karen says of what draws her to Kirsty and her music.

“I was nicknamed 'the queen of quirk' up in Port Douglas where I first started singing in public, and it was partly because I sang a lot of comedy songs but it really came about because I like to sing such a variety of songs.

“I like to make people laugh, I like to make them cry, I like to put stars in their eyes. I like the whole gamut, and particularly I like putting some raunchy stuff in the show as well,” she laughs, “and Kirsty did that as well.

“She sang sad songs, happy songs, gentle love songs and 'I’ve been cheated on' songs, and some really quite naughty ones, which I thoroughly enjoy.”


Having already recorded two albums of Kirsty’s songs, Karen presents a loving recount of Kirsty’s life and music in ‘My Tribute To Kirsty MacColl’ at Adelaide Fringe. “I tell the story of Kirsty's life, just a very potted version, and I do that between songs,” she explains.

“I run the songs chronologically, so I start off with her very first single that she released in 1979 and I end up with tracks from her final album in 2000, just before she was killed. So, everything comes in chronological order as part of telling the story of her life.

“What I don’t try to do is, I’m not one of these tribute acts – I don’t dress like Kirsty and try to sound like Kirsty because I would never succeed. I don’t sing the same as she does, so it is my tribute to Kirsty MacColl, it’s not a tribute act.”

Kirsty’s final album was ‘Tropical Brainstorm’, which was released in 2000 and featured ‘In These Shoes?’, the song Karen credits for her unabashed adoration for Kirsty. “I don’t remember the very first song I heard of Kirsty's; I remember the song I heard that turned me from a fan into somebody with an obsession,” she says.


“That was in the British winter at the beginning of 2000 and it was filthy weather – it was sleeting, cold – really nasty, horrible stuff.

“I had the radio on while I was having breakfast and not paying much attention, but the words to a song came on and I thought 'hello, I like the sound of that song'. It was one of Kirsty's tracks from her final album; it was called 'In These Shoes' and it’s basically a guy saying, 'let's go and make love' and she's going, 'in these shoes? Let's just do it here',” she laughs.

‘My Tribute To Kirsty MacColl’ is part of 2020 Adelaide Fringe and runs at Adelaide Town Hall 3-7 March.

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