Narelle Belle and Johnny Young spend An Evening with Karen Carpenter

Narelle Belle.
Narelle Belle.

FORMER Young Talent Time presenter Johnny Young was attending a function where he mistook Narelle Belle’s live performance singing songs by The Carpenters as a recording of the American duo.

He soon discovered his error and invited Belle, to work on his 1080 6IX breakfast program.

“I was his producer and on-air with him and he’d get me singing at 6am where I probably sounded more like Alice Cooper,” Belle said.

“We started collaborating on this show, An Evening with Karen Carpenter, quite a few years ago but then John’s son was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer so it was understandably put on hold, then got back on track in the last year-and-a-half.”

Hosted by Young and featuring Belle with a live band, An Evening with Karen Carpenter has had sell-out shows at Friends Restaurant, Mandurah Performing Arts Centre and Bunbury Entertainment Centre and will be presented at Wild Goose Restaurant, Gidgegannup on March 17 and Astor Theatre, Mt Lawley on May 6.

“It’s not a tribute show but a celebration of The Carpenters music,” Belle said.

“I come out with my band and backing vocalists and I perform as myself. I narrate between each song to take the audience on a bit of a journey of the history of The Carpenters.

“I don’t try to sing like Karen Carpenter, I just have that chest voice for her dulcet tones and deeper notes. I do my own interpretation of the songs.”

Belle’s love of The Carpenters is unsurprising, given her parents played their music while she was growing up, and said songs like Close To You and We’ve Only Just Begun were go-to numbers when she sang at weddings and other occasions.

“There are a lot of ‘trigger songs’ in the show and people always have a favourite, so you have to make sure you sing all the hits,” she said.

“One lady told me she had one of the song’s at her mum’s funeral.

“I like going to concerts myself and I like to walk away having heard my favourite song. It’s a big thing sitting down and writing the set list for An Evening with Karen Carpenter; there are 23 songs for me to get through and all the hits are there.”

And what would a show hosted by Young be without another particular song?

“Johnny hosts at the beginning and when he returns to the stage at the end we sing All My Loving,” Belle said.


What: An Evening with Karen Carpenter

Where and when: Wild Goose Restaurant, March 17 and Astor Theatre, May 6

Tickets: Wild Goose (9574 6255) and