Kate Melina Miller-Heidke is an Australian singer-songwriter and actress. Although classically trained she has generally followed a career in alternative pop music. She signed to Sony Australia Epic in the US and RCA in the UK but since 2014 has been an independent artist. Four of her solo studio albums have peaked in the top 10 of the ARIA Albums Chart Curiouser October 2008 Nightflight April 2012 O Vertigo! March 2014 and Child in Reverse October 2020. Her most popular single The Last Day on Earth July 2009 reached No. 3 on the ARIA Singles Chart after being used in promos for TV soap Neighbours earlier in that year. At the ARIA Music Awards Miller-Heidke has been nominated 17 times.
She represented Australia in the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 in Tel Aviv Israel with her song Zero Gravity January 2019. Miller-Heidke is the only person to have sung at all three Coachella the New York Metropolitan Opera and Eurovision. She has won five Helpmann Awards. Kate Melina Miller-Heidke was born on 16 November 1981 in Gladstone Queensland. Her mother Jenny Miller was a ballet dancer and then a dance teacher and her father Greg Heidke is a high school principal. After her parents separated she was raised between Indooroopilly with her mother and Auchenflower with her father; she has two siblings. One of her cousins Annie Lee portrays Mourne Kransky in the comedy trio the Kransky Sisters.
For secondary education Miller-Heidke attended Kelvin Grove State College two years Brigidine College Indooroopilly one year prior to graduating from St Aidans Anglican Girls School two years in 1998. She completed a Bachelor of Music degree in Classical Voice from the Queensland Conservatorium of Music at Griffith University on full scholarship followed by a Master of Music degree at Queensland University of Technology.
As a classical singer she has won awards: Elizabeth Muir Prize 2000 Donald Penman Prize 2001 Linda Edith Allen Memorial Prize 2002 and Horace Keats Prize 2002. Her conservatorium performances were in Orpheus in the Underworld 2000 Venus and Adonis 2002 and The Pilgrims Progress 2002. As an Opera Queensland Developing Artist Miller-Heidke has performed as an understudy in productions Sweeney Todd Don Pasquale and Un ballo in maschera. In July 2005 she made her solo professional operatic debut with Opera Queensland in the role of Flora in Brittens The Turn of the Screw.
Miller-Heidke while a tertiary student from 2000 played in several Brisbane alternative pop bands. She was lead singer and songwriter with acoustic pop/folk band Elsewhere which formed in 2000 and released a self-titled extended play of original songs before breaking up in 2003. She briefly played keyboards in Pete Murrays backing band and started her solo career in 2003.
She performed at an annual event Women in Voice three times: in 2002 2004 and 2005 where she shared the stage with Pearly Black Margret RoadKnight Jenny Morris and Chrissy Amphlett. Miller-Heidke became known in Brisbane from these performances and her 2005 appearance in Women in Voice 14 won her the Helpmann Award for Best Performance in an Australian Contemporary Concert. John Shand of The Sydney Morning Herald felt The young [Miller-Heidke] raised the bar with a witty rendition of David Byrnes Psycho Killer part Peter Sellers and part mock-opera.
In June 2004 Miller-Heidke independently recorded and distributed her first EP Telegram for its seven tracks five were written or co-written by the singer and two by her then-boyfriend Keir Nuttall. Nuttall is the founding mainstay lead guitarist and vocalist in Brisbane-based progressive rock band Transport which formed in 2001. Nuttall and fellow Transport members have also worked as part of Miller-Heidkes backing band since 2004. In 2005 she released a second EP with four tracks Comikaze however only 500 copies were made. It was later referred to as an aborted comedy CD. In 2007 she explained that it was a big mistake and promptly stopped pressing them.
Miller-Heidke was preparing to sing the role of Mabel in Gilbert and Sullivans Pirates of Penzance with Opera Australia in late 2005. Instead she turned from classical to pop music when Space They Cannot Touch a track from Telegram became a hit on Australias national youth radio network Triple J and was named by station presenter Richard Kingsmill as his pick of the week in September. Radio support led to increased national attention for her music: not only did she gain thousands of fans she signed with EMI Music Australia obtained her first talent manager Leanne de Souza and her first agent Dorry Kartabani at the Harbour Agency. She then began touring Australia with her band.
As well as touring Australia she appeared at festivals in Woodford – where she was named Queen of the Woodford Folk Festival in 2002–2003 – and in Port Fairy and Blue Mountains. The artist was a guest panellist on TV shows RocKwiz Spicks and Specks and Q&A. She has performed on ABC TVs The Sideshow and Q&A on Network Tens Rove and Good News Week Seven Networks Sunrise and The Morning Show and on live broadcasts of the ARIA Music Awards. Miller-Heidke was invited by Australian singer-songwriter Deborah Conway to take part in the 2006 Broad Festival project during August with three other Australian female artists they performed their own and each others songs. Joining Miller-Heidke and Conway were Melinda Schneider Mia Dyson and Ella Hooper.
Miller-Heidke released her third EP Circular Breathing with six tracks in May 2006 via Waterbear Records/Sony BMG. For the EP she provided vocals piano and wurlitzer with Nuttall on guitars Emma Dean on violin and vocals Steve Pope on drums and percussion Scott Saunders on bass guitar and John Turnbull provided a whistling cameo in Jamie. Pope and Saunders are Nuttalls band mates from Transport. Eleven Magazines reviewer rated it at four-and-a-half stars and explained Its very boppy and very light and carefree. The lyrics are a bit lacking a bit like diary of a teenager kind of thing. Though the acoustic element of the album particularly the strong piano use holds it together. The album provided a single Apartment also in 2006.
She followed with her debut album Little Eve on 26 May 2007. It was produced by Magoo Regurgitator Not from There Gerling at Black Box Studios Brisbane. Aside from herself and members of Transport the artist used strings by Zhivago String Quartet and Danielle Bentley a choir/chorus of seven singers and additional session musicians. It peaked at No. 11 on the ARIA Albums Chart and was certified gold in 2008 by ARIA for shipment of 35000 copies. Australian musicologist Ian McFarlane felt it drew comparisons with Kate Bush and Tori Amos or like Nina Hagen just with a much better voice. AllMusics Jody Macgregor gave it four-out-of-five stars and observed When she uses her deceptively gigantic voice to sing about these little lives Miller-Heidke achieves something that goes above and beyond the simple pleasures of pop music – a genuine profoundness.
Its lead single Words released in the same month reached the top 50 on the related ARIA Singles Chart. ARIAs Ian Wallace observed Although traces of her operatic style are recognisable in her songs [she] has since decided to shy away from the opera circuit and make a dash for the pop scene. At the ARIA Music Awards of 2007 she received five nominations Best Female Artist Best Pop Release Breakthrough Artist – Album for Little Eve and Producer of the Year for Magoos work on Little Eve and Breakthrough Artist – Single for Words. A re-recorded version of Space They Cannot Touch originally on Telegram was issued in March of the following year as her third single from Little Eve.
Miller-Heidkes second album Curiouser was released on 18 October 2008 which was recorded in Los Angeles she worked with co-producers Nuttall and Mickey Petralia Beck Flight of the Conchords. The tracks were mostly written during a two-month period with creative collaborator and now-husband Nuttall. The albums lead single Cant Shake It debuted on the ARIA Singles Chart at No. 38 in October 2008 making it her first top 40 song. Curiouser was her first top 10 album: peaking at No. 2. McFarlane called it her major breakthrough. In April 2009 Miller-Heidke returned to operatic works and won critical acclaim for her performance as Baby Jane in Jerry Springer: The Opera at the Sydney Opera House.
Miller-Heidke and Nuttall co-wrote Caught in the Crowd which was issued as the albums second single in February 2009 which peaked at No. 33 on the ARIA singles charts in June. They were awarded the $US25000 grand prize in the 2008 International Songwriting Competition for its composition. They were the first Australians to win the grand prize. It was used by Australian secondary schools for anti-bullying programs. Caught in the Crowd was re-released in November and was accredited as a gold single in 2010.
Her following single The Last Day on Earth July 2008 reached No. 3 in Australia her first top 10 hit. It had been used in promos for TV soap opera Neighbours. Due to that singles popularity Curiouser re-entered the top 50 in August 2008; it also reached No. 1 on iTunes for three weeks. The track later peaked at No. 1 on the ARIA Australian Artist Singles Chart. The Last Day on Earth and Curiouser were both certified platinum by ARIA for shipment of 70000 units. Curiouser gained critical praise in the United States: Sasha Frere-Jones from The New Yorker wrote I got lucky last week and found a gem in the pile; Curiouser. If your favourite American pop star is coming across slightly washed out you will want to hear Miller-Heidke. Curiouser is a big clutch of pantone swatches.
At the ARIA Music Awards of 2009 in November the singer performed and was also nominated four more times Single of the Year for The Last Day on Earth Best Video for The last Day on Earth directed by Mark Alston and Best Female Artist and Best Pop Release for Curiouser. Miller-Heidke toured throughout the US United Kingdom and continental Europe as support act for Ben Folds. Folds explained shes one of those people that actually does deserve to be called a unique talent. She released her first music DVD Live in San Francisco October 2010. The Last Day on Earth received another nomination for Most Popular Australian Single in the newly installed public-voted categories at the ARIA Music Awards of 2010. Through 2010 to 2011 the artist played at international festivals Coachella Lilith Fair Rifflandia Byron Bay Blues fest Southbound and Peats Ridge Festival. She also featured on UK singer Passengers album Flight of the Crow 2010.