Gig of the week: A career in song

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Singing legend Dame Malvina Major is happy to lend her voice to all sorts of music – but draws the line at yodelling. 

The 67-year-old diva is Queenstown-bound with her live show My Life in Song, spanning her four decades at the top. 

At the Memorial Hall on Saturday she’ll belt out arias, musical theatre and popular favourites. 

But Dame Malvina admits she’s glad of some on-stage help for some songs from the start of her career. 

“Others take over the singing and yodelling from the early part of my life because if I were to do all of it I wouldn’t last the evening,” she says, with a grin. 

“When I was younger I used to yodel but these days it wears out my voice. 

“If I’m singing opera at the end of the programme it’s the sort of thing you just can’t mix.” 

Dame Malvina says the hardest part of putting her new show together was deciding what to leave out. 

In Queenstown she’ll be joined by singers Karl Perigo, Rachelle Pike, Vicki Lee and accompanist Kirsten Simpson. 

“It’s pretty full-on trying to represent all those years of one’s life in a two-hour performance,” the Dame explains. 

“But we manage to go right through the card, from when I started singing with my family as a little girl. 

“It’s been a big project to pull together and when I started working on this show two years ago I had an awful lot of cutting and pasting to do, to try and fit everything in.” 

In between numbers, the internationally-acclaimed star also tells stories about the people she’s met, including presidents and VIPs, and highlights some of the amusing things that have happened on the road down the years. 

“I talk about my clothing that’s fallen off on stage and plenty of other things that have gone wrong.” 

The Hamilton-born Dame says she’s also gone out of her way to take in smaller towns and venues on her latest “heartland” string of dates. 

“I have deliberately toured the rural areas because I grew up in a rural community and it was the people from those regions that gave me a lot of support in my early days. 

“People would travel to my concerts in busloads and the halls were always full.”