Kara Grainger is sounding way too sunny for a blues singer.

As the guitarist and former frontwoman with popular Australian blues and soul band Papa Lips says herself, laughing: "I haven't had anything to moan about for a while, so the songwriting's kind of dried up."

One of the reasons that Grainger is so cheerful is that she is living her dream, having made a successful move from Australia to the U.S. where she was the hot ticket at the South by Southwest music convention in Austin, Texas for a couple of years in the mid noughties

Growing up in Sydney, she was always singing. When she was twelve she got her first guitar and in her mid-teens she started improvising. By seventeen she was playing in Papa Lips with her harmonica-playing older brother, Mitch, who introduced her to the sounds of Memphis, New Orleans and Texas. Listening to singers including Otis Redding and the Neville Brothers, she fell in love and found her musical medium.

"Those deep, soulful voices really drew me into that music," she says. "My brother and his pals were a massive influence on me because they'd say, Have you heard this? And I'd find another hero. Then I started researching blues guitarists - Freddie King, Albert King, Eric Clapton - and I'd try to copy them. I also heard Bonnie Raitt, who I loved immediately, but I never thought for a minute that I'd get to play with the guys in her band."

This would indeed come to pass but first there was an apprenticeship that involved clocking up the gigs and the miles. Within a short time of Kara joining her brother in Papa Lips, the band had become a fixture on Sydney's thriving live music scene and found an enthusiastic audience for their music all along Australia's eastern seaboard.

"We'd pack the gear into the van and go off on these tours," she says. "Every two or three hours along the road there would be a place to play. So we could easily do five, six, seven gigs a week, either in the area of Sydney where we lived, which was pretty vibrant with lots of bars that did live music, or on the road. I think we were a bit of a novelty because this was the mid to late 1990s and we were all seventeen, eighteen, nineteen years old and playing this music that was maybe associated with an older generation."

As a popular, regular attraction in the Basement, the iconic Sydney venue where touring jazz musicians including Herbie Hancock, Dizzy Gillespie, Freddie Hubbard and Art Pepper had stopped over in the 1970s, Papa Lips came to the attention of local record companies. They worked with Harry Vanda, who'd produced AC/DC, and recorded two albums, Harmony and High Time Now.

Then in 2005, after she'd worked as singer-guitarist with Steve Prestwich, of another popular Australian band, Cold Chisel, Craving Records released Grainger's first full-length solo CD, Grand and Green River, and decided to try and establish her in the U.S. She moved to Los Angeles, recorded with the late Little Feat drummer, Richie Hayward, and hooked up with Hutch Hutchinson and Mike Finnegan of Bonnie Raitt's band.

"I found LA a real culture shock after Sydney," she says, "and I really didn't think I'd stay in America beyond the year that we'd talked about. I just didn't get the place at all. But then I found myself playing with amazing guys whose names I'd known from albums and I moved to Texas for a while, which was great because I knew [guitarist] Eric Johnson and his band from their tours in Australia and I got to play with them, which was a great endorsement."

She also caused quite a stir at South by South West, where as well as being picked up by a Japanese label and invited to tour Japan with singer-songwriter, session musician and long-time Kris Kristofferson keyboardist, Donnie Fritts, she was the name on numerous music industry lips and ended up having Grand and Green River played in every Starbucks across the U.S.

These days, when not touring in the U.S., the Far East, Australia and on the European trip that brings her to Edinburgh this weekend, she bases herself in Los Angeles, having found her social niche.

"It took me a while to settle there but at the same time, it has the most amazing facilities, the best recording studios, no end of great musicians," she says. "I'm doing a new album soon and these are big considerations. I just need to work up the material. I find melodies come easy but lyrics are something I'm quite self-critical about. My favourites have all come from hard experiences and nothing bad's happened recently. I did go to France on the Chunnel last week and that was quite crazy. I'm not sure there's a blues lyric in that, though."

Kara Grainger plays Edinburgh Blues Club at the Voodoo Rooms on Friday.