Fresh start for Cat Power

A YEAR of highs and lows left Chan Marshall happy to move on from 2012.

The Atlanta-raised singer-songwriter, who is blessed with arguably one of the most captivating voices you will ever hear, has emerged stronger after being hospitalised several times last year with angioedema, a condition that causes swelling of facial and throat tissue that can lead to suffocation and breathing trouble.

The singer - known on stage as Cat Power - could not talk, let alone sing, forcing her to postpone a European tour supporting the release of her new album Sun, her first collection of new material since 2006's Memphis soul-inspired The Greatest and also a musical re-invention, with joyful, upbeat songs produced using electronics, drum machines and synths.

"I had to do it. I had to take care of myself," Marshall told H2 Live from Miami.

"Taking care of my health is something I never really did before. But now I'm better and it's gone and I'm really happy that I'm OK."

The timing could not have been worse for Marshall.

She was admitted to hospital two days after the album's release and felt helpless at not being physically able to support the album, which she had financed and produced herself.

Lying in a hospital bed "thinking that you're gonna die", Marshall was told Sun had entered the US Billboard chart at No. 10 with sales of more than 23,000 copies, giving Cat Power her first Billboard top 10 album.

"I've never had a top 10 record before - I don't even know what that means," Marshall said.

"I remember, when my friend told me when she came to visit, I looked at her like, 'I don't care. Are you kidding me?' because the doctor had just told me that he was going to have to put a tube in my throat to save my lungs because I had this thing where different parts of my body - my lymphatic system - was behaving as if I was in a car accident.

"My adrenal glands had shut down because of all the stress I'd been going through."

The stress included the breakdown of her relationship with long-time boyfriend, actor Giovanni Ribisi, who abruptly ended things after six years together and went on to marry

British model Agyness Deyn after dating for only two months.

Dealing with the break-up didn't help in her fight to beat the illness, as details about her private life were splashed across the internet gossip websites and tabloids.

"It was so hard, especially coming from that public scrutiny of my ex, you know, having that bullshit happen publicly," Marshall said.

In the meantime, Marshall said she didn't explain the seriousness of her condition because she "had a huge job to do" with releasing the album.

Fans only became aware of her hospitalisation after she posted photographs from her hospital bed on social media site Instagram.

"My record had just come out and I had all these people depending on me. I have things in my life I am obligated to, like my record label, my family, friends and fans, you know, all those things that I have a responsibility for in my life for who I am that I need to uphold. I didn't tell anybody what happened because I was afraid of people doubting me."

Marshall is touring Australia in February-March, and will be joined on stage by an all-new band, with the exception of one member of her Dirty Delta Blues backing band, keyboardist Gregg Foreman.

Marshall, who turned 41 last month, said she is looking at life as a new start.

"I needed a strategy to start over. What can I do? I can tour."

Cat Power performs at Newcastle Panthers on March 1. Tickets:  $55 plus booking fee through Moshtix.


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