Ready to rock . . . Artists (from left) Adelaide Dunn and Calla Knudson will perform at Oamaru's Grainstore Gallery next week, with Carlos Lozano on guitar. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Friends who sing together, stay together.

At least that is the case for musical artists Calla Knudson and Adelaide Dunn.
Knudson and Dunn spent their secondary school years in the same music scene and, as they grew older, both travelled down paths of prestigious classical voice training before realising it was not for them.

Having both pursued musical careers outside of a formal setting, the two artists are coming together to perform at Oamaru’s Grainstore Gallery on December 9.

Known professionally as Calla and Adelaide Cara, the pair will play separate sets for their Calla E Cara show, before bringing their musical skills together.

Before becoming Adelaide Cara, Dunn, who uses they/ them pronouns, spent many years honing their skills as an operatic singer and even participated in an opera programme in Austria at 17, rubbing shoulders with members of New York’s Metropolitan Opera and contemporaries of Luciano Pavarotti.

Although the experience was ‘‘wild’’, they realised it was not for them.

‘‘I totally get why other people love it, but in the end I just realised — it didn’t fulfil me in the way the music I make now does.’’

Dunn’s transition to the music they make now, was ‘‘slow’’ and started with a seed of doubt.

After a couple of self-described poor performances, Dunn developed a bit of stage fright, and did not return to the stage for a few years.

At least not until some friends asked them to be the lead singer of the post›punk band Milpool.

They and the band spent eight months playing shows, opening for other bands, and making EPs.

‘‘It just opened me up back into the world of alternative music that I had been involved in on the periphery as someone studying music, studying production, and as an avid gig› goer.

‘‘It was a really defining moment for me.’’

Dunn also produced Repulsive Woman’s album, Relief, which won a Tate Award in 2020.
For Knudson, music was ‘‘unavoidable’’.

She grew up in a ‘‘very musical family’’ and was brought to choir almost before she could speak.

Music was essential to her life.

Naturally, she did her undergraduate degree in performance voice at Waikato University, working with Dame Malvina Major.

At the same time, she studied gender studies and sociology, and did not enjoy the tropes of damsels in distress that dominated opera narratives.

Knudson was trying to keep her foot in both worlds with her new›style music — marrying pop with classical.

‘‘I have done so much training, classically — it’s just how I use my voice,’’ she said.

‘‘I love the power of opera, that you can project your voice to the back of a hall with no artificial amplification.

‘‘I haven’t found any other approach to music that uses that full potential or capacity of my voice.’’

Both artists have released self›produced albums this year; Knudson’s My Body of Water and Dunn’s How Does This Sound?.

Tickets for the Calla E Cara Grainstore Gallery show are available online at