Golden girl of jazz

Cultural Heart People of Adelaide

In celebration of International Jazz Day (30 April), we spoke with local jazz musician and rising star, Eliza Dickson - an award-winning vocalist who released her first EP ‘Gold’ in 2019, combining her roots of R’n’B, jazz and soul.

Eliza's sung alongside some of the biggest names in music, including Kate Ceberano and James Morrison, and performed at a long list of high-profile events such as Clipsal 500, Civic Park Carols, Generations in Jazz and the Adelaide Fringe Festival.

"The best way to get your foot in the door is to socialise and network at gigs."
Eliza Dickson, Adelaide jazz musician

Eliza Dickson MITS2019

Tell us about the jazz scene in Adelaide.

"Although Adelaide may not be considered the go-to city for its jazz music scene, there's a large number of incredible musicians and music being produced here. The shows in Adelaide are of an incredibly high standard which encourages hard working, driven, and passionate musicians to pursue the craft."

What drew you to this genre of music?

"My music teachers in high school introduced me to Nina Simone. I fell in love with the soul and passion behind her voice. From there, I began to listen to a wider range of jazz artists and found myself reaching for the classic jazz singers daily."

What opportunities are available in Adelaide for people interested in playing or learning to play jazz music?

"I've found that the best way to get your foot in the door, is to socialise and network at gigs. If you’re at a show, the audience will generally share the same musical passions and interests. These are the people you get together with to play music and chase potential gig opportunities. 

"The Elder Conservatorium of Music is the go-to place for studying jazz in Adelaide. My time there was incredibly rewarding and it filled me with the knowledge and confidence to expand my musical tastes."

Eliza Dickson performing

Where's your favourite place to enjoy jazz music in Adelaide?

"Creative Original Music Adelaide (COMA) hosts original local music at the Wheatsheaf Hotel on Mondays. I love heading there to hear new music, meet new people, and be inspired. There's such a wide array of music played by some of the most accomplished musicians in this city and beyond.

"The Gilbert Street Hotel hosts The Airbenders every Tuesday evening which consists of James Muller (Guitar), Paul White (Organ), and Ben Riley (Drums and Cymbals). An incredible line up, playing incredible music!"

Who's your favourite Australian jazz artist?

"Australian Jazz is incredible. Right now, I'm listening to a lot of Kristin Berardi, a Brisbane based vocalist and composer. Her tone and vocal control are incredible. Her lyrics and compositions hold close meaning to her heart which is expressed through her impeccable delivery. I’ve had the chance to see her live a few times and am blown away and so very inspired after each show."

Who's your favourite musician of all time?

"This is a surprisingly difficult question for me, as my taste changes every couple of years which pushes me in new directions. The one artist who has remained constant through this however would be Beyoncé. She's shown on many occasions that she cannot be isolated to the pop genre, as she has such strong roots in jazz and soul music."

If you're looking for somewhere to enjoy jazz in Adelaide, then escape to the remarkable speakeasy Nineteen Ten, where the sounds are as rich as the decor and the vocals as smooth as the whiskey.

On a Sunday afternoon sit back and relax to the tunes of the Dave Black Quartet at the Publishers Hotel, or on Tuesday nights the Air Benders will get you grooving to their swinging, funky soul jazz at the Gilbert Street Hotel.

Article by

Melanie Stewart

Melanie Stewart

Having lived interstate, Melanie is an avid promoter of her beloved hometown, Adelaide. With a passion for community and sustainability, she loves sharing stories of everyday people, doing extraordinary things.