Being a native Londoner, Kate Dimbleby is accustomed to the daily din and bustle of living in a big city. And it never bothered her.

The thing she found unsettling, she admits, was the opposite of that tumult. Peace, space and solitude.

“As a London girl, wilderness made me frightened – in fact, everything made me frightened,” says the jazz singer – the daughter of broadcaster David Dimbleby, and cookery writer Josceline.

So the last thing you might expect her to do, is exile herself far from the hustle of big city life and head out to the wilds of Vancouver Island on Canada’s west coast. But it was there she settled herself, in solitary confinement, to write her latest album Songbirds.

“I wasn’t really sure what I was in search of, but I knew I needed to get back to something simpler,” she says.

“I’d had excruciating back pain for years which was worsened by my performing career, touring the country and the world with my one-woman shows about other women’s voices.”

And how did she cope with all that nature?

“Being alone in the forest with no-one for miles was a challenge and then a liberation,” she says.

“I started to listen more acutely – to every bird, every tree, every bear.

“Tuning into those sounds was a kind of meditation – away from the urban chatter I was used to and the chatter of my own head.

“Songbirds is about listening as much as singing – listening to the sounds around you and singing your own story. If we listen, we hear more.”

Being a Dimbleby – her grandfather was the legendary journalist and news presenter Richard Dimbleby, and her uncle the broadcaster Jonathan Dimbleby, host of Radio 4’s Any Questions? – Kate might have been expected to follow the family trade into news. Instead she struck out as a musician.

She had her first bite at fame as a pupil at St Paul’s Girls School, when her female close harmony group City Charmers won the television talent contest Sky Star Search in 1990.

She went on to carve out a career as an alternative cabaret artist in the cosier corners of Soho

As well as six albums, culminating in last year’s Songbirds, she devised a show about Peggy Lee – the songs forming the basis for her 2001 album Ain’t this Cosy? –and the productions Music to Watch Boys By and Beware of Young Girls: The Dory Previn Story, based on the 70s songwriter, itself spawning an album regarded as one of the best jazz releases of 2012.

On Saturday she brings Songbirds to the North Wall, in Summertown, in a night which will see her exploring her musical legacy – interspersing original a cappella songs and vocal loops with stories of singing with Bobby McFerrin and taking on the mantle of Peggy Lee. It is soulful; part concert, part confessional.

So how did it come about?

“I’d stopped touring my show about Dory Previn and was thinking, what next?” she says.

“I had also just moved cities and had spent time in America training in a capella improvisation with vocal virtuoso Bobby McFerrin.

“I was experimenting with ideas of singing with my audiences and started sharing these on Facebook.

“Helen Meissner from Folkstock Records got in touch after listening to one of these Facebook shares and asked, ‘Do you write your own material?’

“So I immediately sent her about 30 tracks – and from there, Songbirds suddenly grew.”

She goes on: “Helen arranged for me to spend a day with producer Lauren Deakin-Davies, which became several more days over the next few months.

“Something about the trust between us created a really unique space to explore the story I needed to tell – layering my vocals without instruments to capture the emotion of each song.

“We recorded Songbirds, which got great reviews and was picked up by Radio 6’s Tom Robinson.

“The wonderful theatre director Katy Carmichael then helped me devise the live show.

“It was wonderful to work with this brand new all-female, all-nurturing creative team.”

Her solo performance is uncluttered and pure.

“When I perform live, it sounds different every time,” she says.

“I stand alone onstage with a vocal looper and sound recordings I have gathered, but no other instruments – and I invite the audience to get involved.

“In music, we’ve got so good at recreating things to perfection.

“Songbirds shares a different message – one that isn’t about perfection or about certain people being allowed to make noise and others not. At its heart is the idea that you can fail and carry on – you make a ‘mistake’ and it takes you to places you wouldn’t know existed.”

  • Kate Dimbleby plays the North Wall arts centre, Summertown Oxford at 8pm on Saturday.
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