King’s Tapestry of songs ‘speak for themselves’

Nicki Gillis performs the songs of Carole King's Tapestry album.

By Luke Voogt

Legendary singer-songwriter Carole King, 79, is not touring Australia anytime soon amid a global pandemic.

“Not for the foreseeable future, anyway,” agreed Sydney performer Nicki Gillis, who plans to bring the magic of King’s music to the Potato Shed next month.

Currently in her home city, Gillis hopes Victoria’s current lockdown will end soon so she can perform in Drysdale on March 13.

“I heard the announcement on TV, and I’m going, ‘oh no, you guys are in lockdown again!’” she said.

“I’m hoping all will go well and I can get there. I’m feeling for you all and hoping that this is just a brief moment.

“I just hope locals can come and celebrate the songs with me.”

The Potato Shed gig is a “more intimate version” of her long-running show Tapestry The Concert, paying tribute to the song-writing genius of King.

“This is just me and two musicians in raw form with these amazing songs,” she said.

“This will be my first show, to the date, for 12 months.”

Tapestry, the second solo album by the Grammy Award-winning American singer-songwriter, sold more than 14 million copies world-wide.

The record features hits like It’s Too Late and I Feel the Earth Move, which spent several weeks atop the Billboard Top 100 charts in 1972.

The show also features hits like So Far Away, Beautiful, Way Over Yonder, Where You Lead, Will You Love Me Tomorrow, Smackwater Jack and Tapestry.

And Gillis also sings King’s other hits, like It Might as Well Rain Until September and Natural Woman, which Aretha Franklin made her own.

Unbeknown to some, King wrote songs for the likes of The Beatles, The Monkees and The Chiffons, and other tracks sung by Kylie Minogue and Mariah Carey.

“She wrote all these iconic songs,” Gillis said.

“Which is what I love about singing her music, the songs weren’t just great in the ’70s, they were great in the ’80s, the ’90s, and they just keep going.

“She didn’t have to glam up, she didn’t have to do anything outrageous. That’s what I love about her – the songs spoke for themselves.”

Born in Western Australia, Gillis began singing as a backing vocalist at age 15 and joined a band two years later.

She has since played in several bands and released about a dozen of her own songs.

In 2011 she released a cover album called Woman of Substance, including some of King’s hits, which prompted her to start a tribute show.

“I’ve always connected with Carole King songs,” she said.

“At the time of putting the show together Carole had never played the whole Tapestry album from start to finish live,” she said.

“But just as I was planning the show, she went and did it!”

Following King’s sold-out Tapestry concert in London in 2016, watched by a crowd of 65,000, and a tour of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical in the UK, Gillis toured England with her show.

She continued performing for hundreds at a time in Australia right up until COVID-19 hit.

“It was like someone just pulled the plug out of the wall,” she said.

“We had nothing.”

Her latest show is scheduled to begin at 8pm at the Potato Shed on March 13, dependent on Victoria’s COVID-19 situation.

Gillis vowed to get to the Potato Shed, eventually, if the situation worsened in coming weeks.

“We won’t just cancel, we’ll reschedule, we’ll work something out – come on!” she said.