Over the past 20 years, five-time ARIA award-winning artist Katie Noonan has proven herself one of Australia’s most hardworking, versatile and prolific artists. Named one of the greatest Australian singers of all time by the Herald Sun,Katie has produced 21 studio albums throughout her career, with seven times platinum record sales under her belt and 27 ARIA award nominations that span diverse genres.
Katie first came into the nation’s view in 2002 while fronting indie rock band george – their debut album, the two-times platinum Polyserena, rolled in at number one in the ARIA charts. They ultimately won the ARIA award for Breakthrough Artist that same year.
Since then, Katie has performed by invitation for members of the Danish and British Royal families, and His Holiness the 13th Dalai Lama. She was an inaugural recipient of the prestigious Sidney Myer Creative Fellowship in 2011, an honour awarded to candidates that display outstanding talent and exceptional courage. In 2018, Katie took on the Commonwealth Games Opening and Closing ceremonies as Music Director, performing to more than a billion viewers worldwide.
Katie is a rare songwriter; equally at home leading a symphony orchestra as she is performing in a small jazz club, she has the ability to flourish in any genre – whether that’s in gentle folk storytelling or in the grandiosity of an operatic performance. Katie has also collaborated with Australian electronic producers Flight Facilities on their acclaimed 2014 record Down To Earth, and in 2016 she joined Perth hip-hop artist Drapht on his track Raindrops.
Her curiosity and passion often leads her to transcend the medium of music – Katie has collaborated on multi-disciplinary works from ballet and contemporary dance to live art and circus. The daughter of a journalist and opera singer, she was naturally led to the 2018 collaboration Gratitude and Grief, where she worked alongside esteemed Australian poet and cartoonist Michael Leunig with her jazz trio Elixir bringing Leunig’s poems to life in song.
Katie has also collaborated with Australian photographer Bill Henson and the Australian Chamber Orchestra in “Luminous” and the Sydney Dance Company and the Sydney Symphony in Benjamin Britten’s “Les Illuminations”. She has also made new works with the Queensland Ballet and electronic wunderkid CLN, and with contemporary circus group Circa – their Love-Song-Circus production was a two-time Fringe Award winner in Adelaide in 2014, and the soundtrack was her 16th ARIA nomination.
Inspired by the evocative Australian poet Judith Wright, an environmentalist and advocate for the rights of First Nation peoples, Katie joined the UK’s acclaimed Brodsky Quartet to interpret Wright’s poems in With Love and Fury. “Noonan navigates the challenging territory of this showcase of artful Australian music with unflinching accuracy,” wrote the Sydney Morning Herald.
Never failing to pay it forward, Katie has been a mentor and a supporter of many young artists and women in the arts, collaborating with rising Australian acts such as Ainslie Wills and Stonefield on 2014’s Songs That Made Me, a tribute record that has raised over $30,000 for Cancer Council Australia’s Pink Ribbon campaign. In 2017, Katie established the Carol Lloyd Award – a $15,000 prize for Queensland female musicians and the first monetary award in Australian history to honour a contemporary female musician. In 2019, she won The Australian Women in Music Awards Creative Leadership Award – recognising her excellence in creative programming.
Noonan is an artist of ground-breaking feats. She was the first Western woman ever to sing in the Forbidden City in Beijing and the first Queenslander to take the reigns as artistic director at Queensland Music Festival in 2015, not to mention the youngest person ever to take on the role.
Katie’s unwavering perseverance in aiding the development of Australia’s diverse musical landscapes has inevitably created a healthier artistic domain for future generations to come. An unrelenting advocate for the arts, the APRA ambassador is constantly championing it’s vitality and growth across our rural towns and ever-changing cities, helping the Queensland Music Festival continue its legacy of integrating community projects in over 100 regions across the state. In 2020 Katie was awarded the prestigious APRA AMCOS State Arts Luminary Award for her commitment to furthering the future of Queensland musicians, was voted in the Top 50 Jazz Artists of all time by ABC Classic voters and was the only Australian woman in the ARIA Top Ten Jazz & Blues albums of 2020 and recently won the 2021 AIR Best Independent Jazz Album for her 20th Studio album The Sweetest Taboo. Katie was also recently appointed as the Artistic Director of the National Folk Festival in Canberra.
In the midst of running her production company KIN Music and working as an Artistic Director, Katie remains committed to what sets her artistry apart from the pack: her ability to evolve. “There’s always going to be something to learn or someone who can teach you something,” she explains. Music, for Katie, is a lifelong lesson, a generous act of giving, and a means to change the world.