Melbourne nu-soul performer Hailey Cramer has been a passionate music maker her whole life. With a voice that ‘can knock the wind out of any audience with half a breath to spare’, Hailey has performed and collaborated extensively on both the Australian and international music circuits with artists such as Goyte, Santana, The Black Eyed Peas and music legends, Blue King Brown.
VWT’s Ally Oliver-Perham chatted with Hailey Cramer about mixtapes, grandmothers and gender equality. Hailey will be performing at our June fundraiser Let’s Dance!
Thank you so much for talking with me today. So first things first — how would you describe your sound in your own words?
I studied jazz, so I’ve definitely got a jazz influence. Soul is something that has inspired me a lot so there’s that element. I guess, soul/jazz would be the best way, some people call it nu soul.
As you know, this is a gender equality event and Eve Mahlab is a feminist from way back when, who continues to inspire young women. I’d like to hear about the women who inspired you. One thing I picked up on when I was reading about you was a really cute story you told about sending music tapes to your grandmother in Sri Lanka. I thought that was gorgeous!
Yeah, it’s something my Mum got us to do as kids because you know, we couldn’t write letters to her just yet, because we were quite young, so we used to send audio tapes. And Mum would get us each to do something, whether it was to recite a poem, and of course I always wanted to sing songs so after I recorded my message on the little tape deck, then I would sing a song. I looked forward to doing that and I would practice a song for the next Nana’s tape which we’d send over.
Those memories are really stuck in my head of us in the lounge room with some two dollar mic connected to the little tape recorder we had. But, yeah, it was cool — they were probably my first recordings as an artist!
Where you cut your teeth.
Yeah, both my grandmothers are still alive, which I’m pretty fortunate to have and they’re pretty strong women. I’ve been really fortunate to be close to both of them and even though one lives in Sri Lanka. I go there every year by myself and go spend a couple of weeks with her just to learn about my history, about my parents and where she’s at, where she’s come from. It’s pretty amazing what women are capable of. They’re both really cool, they’re both in their 90s.
And still going strong! So on the theme of women who inspire you and given the fact that you’ll be our musical centrepiece for the evening, I was wondering if you could sing a piece with any other female musician, who would it be?
Oh man. Whitney [Houston] is a definite hero of mine so, I would have loved to have sung with her in her heyday. And I guess a major honour would be to sing with Aretha [Franklin] that would be incredible.
My final question is more about the thrust of the evening, which is all about gender equality and I just wondered, what does gender equality mean to you?
For me it means…being acknowledged for something that we already knew we were.
Oh I like that. So succinct and to the point. And that’s all my questions! Thank you so much for chatting to me, this has been a real pleasure. I’ll see you on the dance floor.
See you there!
Hailey Cramer will be performing at our upcoming fundraising evening, Let’s Dance! a night of celebration for our shared feminist history and future pathways for gender equality. This night is also in honour of Eve Mahlab AO’s milestone birthday (she’s turning 80!) and her significant contribution to women’s rights in Australia and feminist philanthropy.
While this event has sadly sold out, you can still contribute to women’s economic security and safety by sending a birthday card to feminist luminary Eve Mahlab AO. We appreciate your generous support.