Katherine Byrnes, 28, grew up in Tucson, earned a music degree from the UA and has appeared in at least a dozen musical comedies at the Gaslight Theatre, including the current Christmas in the Big Apple. She sings blues, jazz, Latin and rock music with Tucson acts such as Michael P.'s Big Band, Backbeat, Sergio Mendoza y la Orkesta and Calexico, and is a backup singer for Amos Lee. Byrnes and boyfriend Ryan Alfred play original pop songs in Sweet Ghosts, and they'll record their debut album next month. She'll sing with jazz pianist Jeff Haskell on New Year's Eve at The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain.
What was the first concert you ever saw?
That would be Amy Grant, and I fell asleep during it. I was probably about 8 or 9.
What are you listening to these days?
tUnE-yArDs; she's my new hero. I've also been getting really into the Punch Brothers.
What was the first album you owned?
Janet Jackson's janet., and also Rob Base's It Takes Two (with DJ E-Z Rock).
What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone seem to love, but you just don't get?
Auto-Tune. I don't understand why people would want to suck all the personality out of a singer.
What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live?
The Jackson 5.
Musically speaking, what is your favorite guilty pleasure?
I don't really feel guilty about this, but other people might think I should. I think Barbra Streisand is one of the most-amazing vocalists ever. I love her phrasing and her ability to take a song, make it so big, and then bring it down so intimately.
What song would you like to have played at your funeral?
It's probably trite, but "Let It Be." Or maybe "I Will Survive."
What band or artist changed your life, and how?
Ella Fitzgerald was the reason I decided to venture into jazz from musical theater. And listening to Son House and Robert Johnson was the reason I decided to swing into the blues.
Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time?
Joni Mitchell's Blue.