With many accolades to her name, Kristin Berardi won the Montreux Jazz Festival International Vocal Competition in 2006, two National Australian Bell Awards for the Best Jazz Vocal Album in 2010 and 2012 , the first and only vocalist to receive the Freedman National Jazz Award 2010; has released a number of albums and toured nationally and overseas. Graduating in 2003 with a Bachelor of Music from the Queensland Conservatorium, Kristin now shares her expertise with current students in the Jazz Voice course.
The Careers and Employment team asked Kristin about her amazing journey from student to professional musician, her influencers and the tips she can provide budding musicians.
What do you currently do and how did you get here?
I’m a musician and composer. I teach Jazz Voice at the Queensland Conservatorium. I perform mainly within Australia and occasionally overseas. In high school, I was lucky enough to be doing gigs from a young age and making money.
This year, I have taken on a couple of ensembles which is fun and challenging for me. No one day is ever the same as you are dealing with people walking their own path. With music, you are dealing with core material but you are a living, feeling human and this definitely affects how we go about our craft.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Seeing growth in the students – in their personal self-belief and their ability to be more emotionally present in their approach to music as musicians.
What made you decide to go to university?
I thought that is what you needed to do to become a better musician and get more training. I’m so glad I did that.
What are some of the most interesting things you learned in your degree?
The most interesting thing I learned from a teacher is that you must listen to music which moves you. Along the way, I had become too focused on listening to music to move me forward, to instruct, to analyse and I forgot to just listen for enjoyment. I apply the theoretical skills in my own practise and in my teaching, for voice, for improvisation over changes and composition.
What are some of your favourite aspects of uni?
Meeting other people who liked music as much as I did and getting really great vocal instruction from Irene Bartlett. That was truly invaluable to me because until I arrived there at Queensland Conservatorium I just hadn’t had a vocal instructor who could teach me how to use my instrument in a healthy and creatively freeing way.
What do you like to do in your spare time when you’re not working?
Mainly hang out with my 2 year old while my son is at school. Go to a café and enjoy a coffee. Practise. Compose.
When you were 18 years old, did you imagine that you’d be doing what you’re doing today? Why?
I hoped I’d be making music I loved, and at 18 I was petrified of teaching so I wouldn’t have thought I’d be teaching but I honestly love that part of my life too.
What is the single most important thing that kick-started your career?
Winning the Montreux Jazz Festival’s International Jazz Competition in 2006 dramatically helped my career. People actually gave me a chance to do gigs where I was living and festivals in Sydney. Before that I was just another person sending an email asking for a gig.
Who are your career idols?
I look up to Kurt Elling, Gretchen Parlato, Ingrid Jensen, Gregory Porter, Alison Krauss, Katie Noonan. It’s really a combination of performers and educators.
Are there any people or events that have strongly influenced your education and career?
People who have influenced my education and career are Irene Bartlett, Steve Newcomb, John Hoffman, Derrin Kerr, Vince Jones, Christine Sullivan, Kurt Elling, Bill Evans, Keith Jarrett, Brad Meldau, James Sherlock, James Muller, Tim Firth, Ingrid Jensen, Glen Hodges, Julien Wilson, Sarah Vaughan, Katie Noonan, Take 6, Michelle Nicole, Nancy King, Gregory Porter, Cassandra Wilson, Lauryn Hill….
Looking back on your life up until now, what do you consider to be your biggest achievement?
Musically – maintaining my individuality as a musician, and being an honest and emotionally present musician. Personally – being a parent.
Top Tips from Kristin:
- Use time and opportunities to their full potential.
- Hang on to those dreams and core goals you have as you find a balance between making your art and having to function in society- ie making a living.