After a Houston childhood spent absorbing the pop and jazz standards of what’s called the Great American Songbook, singer-songwriter Kat Edmonson has been busy adding new pages to that songbook.
Edmonson, now based in New York City after moving from Austin four years ago, is getting her pop songs heard in such places as “CBS This Morning,” National Public Radio, “Austin City Limits,” the public radio program “A Prairie Home Companion” and feature films like 2013’s “Admission.”
Her 2009 debut album “Take to the Sky” made the Top 20 on Billboard’s jazz charts. Fans funded her follow-up, “Way Down Low,” in a Kickstarter campaign, and her third album, last year’s “The Big Picture,” topped Billboard’s Heatseekers chart on its release.
The 31-year-old has toured with Chris Isaak and Gary Clark Jr., performed at the Montreux Jazz Festival and will be touring coast-to-coast this spring.
Edmonson opens a February swing through her home state with a Monday night show at the Waco Hippodrome, followed by gigs in her hometown Houston, Austin, Dallas and San Antonio. Acclaimed Texas folk-pop songwriter Robert Ellis, a Lake Jackson native, will open for her.
Edmonson is enjoying a sweet spot in her career, living in the city that was home to many of the pop and jazz greats she listened to as a kid, coming off a rewarding recording experience with “The Big Picture” and a successful fall tour supporting that album,
She’s looking to continue it in the live shows ahead.
“I’m really thrilled. This band (that performs in Waco on Monday) toured together in the fall . . . and we just clicked,” she said.
Edmonson recorded “The Big Picture” over three months in engineer David Boucher’s Santa Monica studio last year. The combination of temperate clime and length of time proved a “luxury” that resulted in a sunnier album, she said. “I think you can hear that in the record. I was already writing a little more upbeat . . . and felt compelled to express more of my joy,” she said.
Her relationship with label Sony Music Masterworks has allowed her to shift some of the marketing and logistics work she has long done on her own, freeing up more time for music-making and songwriting.
For someone raised on pop songs that still speak today, that’s what it’s all about. “(Songwriting is) such a natural feeling. I can’t think of another feeling so complete. . . . I only get it when I write,” she said. “Sometimes it takes an afternoon (to write a song), sometimes eight years.”
Edmonson honed her craft through years in Austin’s music scene, but while she still enjoys playing for an audience, there’s a special satisfaction in the recording studio and experimenting with what musical tools best tell her songs’ stories. “My favorite part is imagining what could be,” she said.
Her music videos feel like minimovies in look and style, and Edmonson admitted she often writes with a big screen — and sound — in mind.
“I understand my music to sound cinematic. If I had an orchestra at my disposal, I’d write for it,” she said. Edmonson, in fact, made a guest appearance in the made-in-Austin holiday film “When Angels Sing” starring Harry Connick Jr., and wants to make a small film of her own.
Monday’s concert won’t feature an orchestra, but a five-piece band with guitar, bass, keyboards, drums and vibraphone. Her urbane “classic pop” will complement the thoughtful songcraft of Ellis’ opening set, and that’s fine with Edmonson. “We’re quite different (in styles), but he’s a very good writer,” she said. “It will be a diverse evening of song.”