Emma Pask On Parting Ways With Universal, And Trying To Sing In Portuguese

19 August 2015 | 4:00 pm | Michael Smith

"Anyone who speaks Spanish or Portuguese will probably think it's terrible but I tried my best."

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"That was a fantastic experience," singer Emma Pask admits of her shot at The Voice a few years ago, "and Ricky was amazingly supportive and the idea of recording with him was obviously exciting, but he's always so busy and I'd been thinking about doing an album of Latin music for a long time because I've always loved it, so I guess the seed was sown then."

Pask is talking about her new album, Cosita Divina, which she'll be showcasing at the Noosa Jazz Festival and later at Sydney's Art & About festival.

"You know when you see a cute kid and you take them by the cheeks and tell them how cute they are?"

"And I'm married to a South American too — we got married in Noosa a couple of years ago, which makes the place even more special. So I've recorded an album inspired by Latin American music and I sing in English, Spanish and Portuguese, which was quite a challenge but I gave it my best shot," Pask giggles. "Anyone who speaks Spanish or Portuguese will probably think it's terrible but I tried my best and of course my husband helped me and I have a couple of friends who were a great help."

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Long before The Voice, Pask had the extraordinary good luck to be discovered, as a 16-year-old, by jazz maestro James Morrison. He immediately invited her to perform with his band and that association has seen Pask tour the world and record six albums with him.

"I was just a schoolgirl and I had no idea you could actually make music a career," she admits. "My parents are English, so I grew up with all that great music of the '60s and '70s, but they loved Frank Sinatra. But I never imagined I'd become a jazz singer."

While Cosita Divina is predominantly Pask's take on some classic Latin American songs, the album includes a couple of original tunes, including the title track.

"It's a phrase that roughly translates to... You know when you see a cute kid and you take them by the cheeks and tell them how cute they are? It's sort of that only I'm taking my husband's face in my hands and telling him how divine he is, I suppose.

"I've only really been writing songs the last couple of years. I had a couple on the Christmas album I did with Universal [2013's Season Of My Heart] and I love cowriting — that's my favourite thing to do — so I'm really happy I've been able to include a couple of my own songs on the new album. And I'm back to being an independent artist. We parted amicably but I don't think Universal were really ready for a new album where I'm a working musician and I'm always looking to move forward, so I was ready. So this record really is my baby!"