Suzy Cato first captured the hearts and minds of children more than two decades ago, which saw an entire generation of Kiwis lose their minds when she twirled her way back into the limelight for Dancing with the Stars (DWTS) last year.
We catch up with Suzy about the experience and what she has on the cards for 2019.
What’s happening in ‘Suzy’s World’ these days?
2018 was one of the best and busiest years I have had in a long time! DWTS was only one of many fabulously exciting projects last year, albeit an amazing one. I released two singles; the first ‘Sprinkle a Little Sunshine’ with the hugely talented Kath Bee, pre-Dancing with the Stars and the other, ‘We’re All Gonna Have Some Fun’ post the dance show; in conjunction with the compilation CD I curated for Sony Music NZ called the Totally Awesome Kiwi Kids Album.
I created and performed at the first ever Kids Music in Parks event for Auckland Council’s Music in Parks series, and curated, created and MCd the NZ Children’s Music Awards at Spark Arena’s Tuning Fork. There were also numerous opportunities to appear and MC at events all over the country, which I loved (The Vodafone Music Awards, the NZ Television Awards, the TedX Youth – Avon River event and of course the fabulous Christchurch Santa Parade, just to name a few).
And 2019 looks to be just as busy with another series of the much loved Kids Radio Show, Suzy & Friends to create and huge plans for my kids YouTube channel. Currently called TreehutTv, we’re looking to rebrand under the new channel name… SuzyCato!
How often do you get requests to sing, ‘It’s our time, kia ora, talofa’ or ‘See ya see ya later’?
All the time! We made over 2000 episodes of You & Me so I’ve sung both songs for the show at least 4000 times (once in the rehearsal and once in the record), but I’ve sung those songs at preschools, schools, live events for years and now that all those wee ones have grown up I’ve sung it at supermarkets, retail stores, my accountants, lawyers and… well everywhere!
How did you find DWTS?
I loved every moment of it! It was incredibly hard – physically and mentally – and not just on me but on my family. But, we all grew through it and we all loved the journey together.
I had the best dance partner. Matt Tatton-Brown is divine. I will always treasure the time I spent with Matt and the rest of the DWTS team; both contestants and crew. It really was fantastic. And hard – did I say hard? Because boy it was! It hurt – feet, ribs, back, legs, head, everything.
You had spent 15 years focused on your family. How did your children feel when DWTS happened and you were suddenly in the limelight again?
My gorgeous two young people are wee stars in their own right. Both love performing and were the reason I got back out performing again. They’d found a folder with some press clips of You & Me / Suzy’s World days and asked why I wasn’t performing like that anymore. It was with their encouragement that I started my YouTube channel.
DWTS was a really good opportunity to share with them the resilience and perseverance required and how to cope with ‘failure’. Not for a moment did I feel like a failure, not making it through to the final, but it was good for them and for those supporting me to see that not winning was ok.
Dancing for the Mental Health Foundation was a huge honour and one that I relished as I was able to share the journey and the struggle and show that no one is alone – we all have our down days and that’s ok.
What is the most fulfilling aspect of your career and everything you get to do?
Getting to be a part of someone’s day – either via the radio show, as I do now on a Saturday or Sunday morning; via the YouTube channel (where you can find eps of You & Me and Suzy’s World as well as all the new clips) or even via Facebook and Instagram – sharing a positive thought, a smile or a cyber hug is pretty damned special.
That I’m able to juggle it around my beautiful family (nearly always successfully) is a joy. For me family comes first and that’s why I hadn’t dived back into broadcasting, beyond the radio show, until recently. Growing great kids needs to start at home.
What does 2019 have in store for you?
On top of my own projects, I’m producer of the much-loved kids programme and resource Bryan & Bobby and Snr Const. Bryan Ward QSM has great plans for him and his Police Dog, this year. I’m also Chair of Kiwi Kids Music (www.kiwikidsmusic.co.nz).
I’ve got the Kids Music Awards to create for Spark Arena’s Tuning Fork. I have my album to finish recording and a tour to create and a book (or a few) to publish… Yup, 2019 promises to be an amazing one and I can’t wait to dance my way through it.