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Katrina reveals why return to music after 20-year break is finally right

By FnF Desk | PUBLISHED: 24, Mar 2012, 13:05 pm IST | UPDATED: 19, Aug 2015, 18:16 pm IST

Katrina reveals why return to music after 20-year break is finally right

LA: She may have taken a 20-year break from the music business, but Katrina is back. The 34-year-old singer, who began her career on famous talent show Star Search, has spent time in the studio, recorded her debut album and is ready to pick up where she left off.

She recently showed off her fantastic voice on a tour of the U.S. supporting rock band Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers, and is currently enjoying radio play on both sides of the Atlantic.

But Katrina’s success hasn’t always been enjoyable as when she won Star Search as a teenager, she found it difficult to deal with the success that came with it.

‘The success that came along with the exposure was everything I had dreamt of,’ she said. ‘But I didn’t understand it and how people thought I was famous.’

‘To me, Ed McMahon was the famous person because he was the host - I was just a contestant. I didn’t understand how the concept of celebrity related to me. And so that’s why I would ask my mum sometimes: “Why do they want my autograph? I’m not famous.”’

The sudden exposure coupled with the negative aspects of Katrina’s home life, almost suddenly led her to shy away from a career in music.

‘My parents were fighting more and more and it finally came to a point where it was too much and they separated and ultimately divorced – this was right after Star Search was over.

‘I was getting record contract offers almost straight away, but all the adults around me were fighting and it became really negative.

‘There was a contract dispute and it just became really ugly,’ she added. ‘Music had been an escape for me, something that was really fun and something that was my own thing that had nothing to do with what was happening at home, and all of a sudden it was no longer positive.’

The sequence of events led to the break down of Katrina’s relationship with her father, with the singer having had no contact with him over the past two years.

‘You never want to be one of those people who doesn’t talk to one of your parents,’ Katrina explained. ‘It’s been a strained relationship and at times we’ve reconnected and then it’s been strained again – it has been difficult.

‘But my mum has been a pillar my whole life. She’s an awesome lady, who’s very soft spoken but very strong. She’s such a big part of what I’m doing right now.’

The years that followed Katrina’s decision to turn down record deals, included her performing in the school choir and singing backup for friend’s bands while all the time writing her own songs.

Katrina shared a one bedroom apartment with her mother when she made the decision to go to law school, and ended up achieving a Masters in Entertainment and Media Law.

But even with a successful career in law, Katrina still held on to her passion for music and spent all of her spare time writing and recording.

‘While my colleagues would be looking forward to a few drinks with friends, or getting ready for a hot date, I would head straight to the studio after a 100-hour work week, but to me that was the ultimate relaxation,’ she said.

‘As well as practising law, I was also actually moonlighting working on a movie project doing two songs for a soundtrack and that was really fun.’

It was while working at the law firm that Katrina’s Star Search past came flooding back to her after some colleagues found footage of her appearing on the show on YouTube.

The dark-haired singer still doesn’t know who posted those videos online but admits that it certainly contributed to her making a life changing decision  - along with a concert she went to in Las Vegas.

‘Cher is the ultimate,’ Katrina said. ‘I was freaking out when I went to see her because we were so close to the stage! I have always loved her and been mesmerised by her whenever I saw her on the screen.’

‘So I walked out of the show and said: “I can’t do it anymore.” My husband had already been talking to me about quitting law, and had recently said to me: “I didn’t know you sang like this.”

‘It was a big decision but we thought it would be the perfect time so I handed my notice in.’

Katrina admitted that she knew it wouldn’t be easy to get back into music as she had been away from the industry for 20 years, “I knew it was not gonna be easy. I knew it would be hard to get back in as it had been 20 years. So I knew that that would be a challenge.

‘I wasn’t at the point of approaching labels,’ Katrina explained. ‘Because they were looking for something a little more developed, but I found an amazing man - who I’m still close with- called Josh Sklair. He was Etta James’ musical director and is such a cool guy.’

Katrina went on to write many songs with Sklair, which she described as being ‘bluesy’ but she was keen to make a pop record.

‘Josh very lovingly handed me over to producer Val Garay and I know that was hard for him to do, but he gave me his blessing,’ Katrina said.

‘It was really hard not working with him anymore because I so badly wanted him to be a part of what I was doing.

‘Had he not had faith in me, I don’t know where I would be right now or how long it would have taken me to get to this point.’

Katrina and Garay wrote her debut album, In The Blink Of An Eye, with the help of songwriter Bonnie Hayes, and it just so happens that the first song they wrote together was Katrina’s upcoming single, So Eden.

‘When we wrote together we would come up with a song title and write around it, but So Eden was different because it was done in a snap,’ Katrina explained.

‘It was the first time we wrote together, and afterwards Val said to me: “Katrina you haven’t been in this business long enough to know what happened in that room between the three of us but that was magic.”

‘I knew it but I didn’t dare say anything because that was just the first song of the whole record, and we had like ten or 11 more to go.

‘A lot of the album are experiences from the past, but it’s kind of different when you’re writing.

‘When I wrote with Val and Bonnie, we would collectively put our experiences together and I think that’s why we were able to come up with things that different people can relate to in the same song.

‘We all had stories to throw in and we had a lot of fun with it, but there were also songs where every single one of us was crying while writing it in the studio.’

As well as perfecting her debut album, Katrina has also been busy setting up her own record label with Garay, Red Red Records.

‘We decided to set up a boutique label and sign a distribution deal with Sony because it’s the distributor that believes in the music and me.

‘Our label is in charge of pulling the plug, and controlling what happens with the record and I think it could revolutionise the music business.’

Following the release of her debut single Shame On Me last year, Katrina is excitedly awaiting the UK release of So Eden on Monday March 26 and will be performing in London that week, but what is she hoping to bring to her UK fans?

‘I want to create something that people relate to,’ Katrina explained. ‘I want the music to grow and have a reason to come back every Summer and do a tour. I want to be able to embrace the community and have it embrace me back.

‘I had always wanted to go to London ever since I was little, so when I went there the very first time for the sake of music it was crazy.

‘When I hear that the music is on the radio and people are responding to in a positive way, it makes me smile from ear to ear.’

It may have taken Katrina a long time to get to where she is today, but it’s clear to see that she never lost her love for music, and is certainly ready for what looks set to be a very successful career.

# Source: The Daily Mail, By Kirsty Mccormack