Interview: Wendy Matthews – Celebrating the music of Paul Simon this weekend

Wendy Matthews is joining forces with Grace Knight to celebrate the music of Paul Simon in Adelaide this weekend

American singer-songwriter Paul Simon quickly rose to fame when he teamed up with Art Garfunkel to form Simon and Garfunkel. The duo left a significant mark on the music industry. Paul Simon’s fascination with pop vocal sounds quickly expanded to include the magic of English folk music. 

This week, Wendy Matthews and Grace Knight are bringing their hugely successful show We’re Going To Graceland – The Songs of Paul Simon to the Regal Theatre. Backed by an all-star band, Wendy and Grace will take you on an unforgettable journey across the hits and crowd favourites of Paul Simon.

Canadian-born Australian singer-songwriter Wendy Matthews released numerous top 20 hits in the 1990s, multiple top 20 albums and has received a string of ARIA awards. Her captivating and expressive vocals have a way of connecting with the lyrics and moving her audiences.

Wendy Matthews spoke to Glam Adelaide recently about the show and what she and Grace love about Simon’s music.

“Basically, we both love the fact that it went right back to the sixties. He’s morphed from Simon and Garfunkel, writing all those songs into his own materials through the eighties, nineties and the present day. It’s just so diverse. Personally, I love the fact that his songs are so visual. They’re like mini movies in your head. He tells some wonderful stories. I love his approach to the way he thinks about things.”

This collaboration between Wendy and Grace has been a long time in the works.

“Grace and I have known each other for a long time; I used to go up to her place and we’d go horseback riding. We used to bump into each other a lot backstage at different festivals and we became friends — not only through music, but through our lifestyle choices and similar ways of thinking about a lot of things. We both live in the country, for instance. We just thought it would be a great thing to do, to be able to hang out together and make some music. But it took about 20 years or more for us to finally find a chance to work together and find a catalogue to do together.”

With such an expansive catalogue of music, how did Wendy and Grace whittle down the set list for this show?

“After every show, somebody’s bound to say, ‘Why didn’t you do such and such?’ But you have to stop somewhere. People tend to sing along a lot at this show as well, so that played a part. Paul Simon has got such a huge catalogue of music that we had to stop somewhere. The show runs for about an hour and a half or more and we could keep going for days if it was up to his catalogue.”

Wendy’s diary of performances each year is huge — both here in Australia and overseas.

“It’s my form of expression — I don’t know what I’d do without it. There’s an immediate exchange with an audience rather than the sort of introspective aspect of recording, where you can really take your time and redo things and try and express something. There’s a really exciting energy to a room when you’re all experiencing the same thing, including my band and I.”

We’re Going To Graceland – The Songs of Paul Simon showcases the vocal talents of Wendy and Grace, and they will thrill audiences with their interpretations of an iconic collection of songs.

“Grace and I perform a lot on our own, so we are not used to sharing the stage with another pal. But when we do this particular show, we have a lot of fun. A lot of it is totally unplanned. It’s turned into a bit of a comedy act as well over the last couple years. We just have a lot of fun, and I think that’s infectious.”

Wendy Matthews and Grace Knight: We’re Going To Graceland – The Songs of Paul Simon
The Regal Theatre, Kensington Rd
Friday 1 December at 8pm
Saturday 2 December at 2pm and 8pm 

Photo credit: supplied

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