A procession of stars from the past and present of pop, will parade before the audience at Cornbury Festival this weekend.

But, among a line-up of vintage chart stars, reggae legends and country music heroes, one face is set to stand out – a sparkling touch of glamour, delightfully out of place in the Oxfordshire countryside.

Elegant, sophisticated and beautiful, Caro Emerald is a star from a different era; a matinee idol from a more glamorous age where men were men and women were, well, like Caro.

In her tight dress, blood red lipstick and a hat which was fashionable in the blitz, Caro cuts a stylish figure.

Caro seems to belong to a different time and place – Berlin in the 20s? Paris in the 30s? Rio in the 50s, perhaps?

In fact 37 year-old Caro, real name Caroline Esmeralda van der Leeuw, is Dutch – hailing from distinctly un-exotic Amsterdam, though blessed with the good looks of her Aruban mother.

“You wouldn’t know I’m Dutch,” she says. “Real Dutch people are blonde. I’m mixed: my parents are from the Caribbean and South America, but a lot of people think I’m Italian or Spanish. Even when they hear my music they wouldn’t connect me to Holland. If I didn’t know myself, I’d think the music was from the UK or US, but not from here.

“There’s definitely some nostalgia. I like the glamour and the femininity. I’ve always been a ‘dressing-up’ kind of girl. I wouldn’t want to look like a rock star in leather.”

Her appearance on this Sunday’s festival bill, sandwiched between Scotland’s Deacon Blue and South London’s Squeeze, is sure to inject a little sophistication into the proceedings as the crowd gear up for a final night of partying.

“I hadn’t been to the UK before I first played there,” she says.

“It felt like home, though. The culture is similar and we understand each other. I have felt welcome there from the beginning. The audiences are always fantastic.”

So to what does she attribute her success? “It’s all so hard to explain,” she sighs.

“I think it’s dangerous to explain why I have become so popular in Britain, as then I’d have to say why I’m not as successful in some other countries where I haven’t done it. “Everything is about timing. I’ve had some fabulous promotional gigs and play on Radio 2 which has been perfect timing for albums and tours and creates a big buzz. We seem to have been taken to the heart of UK audiences.”

But, more than anything, it’s the songs themselves, she says.

“It’s the music. I’m a traditional jazz singer and that music pushes a button with me,” she says.

“I want to create the perfect jazz atmosphere and that complements the music, and makes sense. I’ve always sung different kinds of music to other people. It’s a bit ‘old school’ but to me it’s also very contemporary-sounding. It all depends on your point of view, and how you listen to it.”

Although Caro admits to having wanted to be a star since she was a girl singing in front of the mirror with a hairbrush, it wasn’t until 2007 that she had her break, being asked to record a demo for a Dutch producer and a Canadian songwriter. The result was Back It Up – it proved an instant hit.

Buoyed by success, they set out to record an album and, finding inspiration in the world of 1940s and 50s cinema, they came up with a masterpiece: Deleted Scenes From The Cutting Room Floor.

Its compulsive updated cocktail of big band jazz, tango, swing and mambo struck a nerve with a public hungry for retro glamour. Its Latin flavours conjured up the golden age of Hollywood, as did Caro herself. It went platinum in six weeks, remained in the UK top 10 for nine weeks and, in her home country, held the number one spot for a record 30 weeks.

Her 2013 follow-up, The Shocking Miss Emerald, topped the UK album chart, selling more than 2.5m copies and establishing her as a star. Her tropically-flavoured Emerald Island, last year, has kept her there – her dancey blend of retro style and modern pop, complete with beats and samples, finding a ready audience among vintage fans.

Fashion is a passion, and Caro name checks Grace Kelly as her sartorial muse – while also confessing her formative musical heroine was a little more up to date.

“I was inspired by Madonna,” she laughs. “In school I used to mimic her music. Some girls were more boyish, but I was definitely more of a girl.”

She goes on: “I like to create some kind of ambience. I don’t want to pull people inside that era, just give a suggestion. Though there’s something about music that takes people out of their daily lives. It’s escapism in a way.”

Though, she admits, the real life Caroline prefers things a bit more functional when offstage.

“I am practical,” she says. “So when I’m at home you’ll find me in jeans and T-shirts. After all, I have to function and can’t dress like that all the time. It’s fun, but it’s lots of work. And if I walked around in those heels all the time I’d be a fruitcake. I have more important things to do with my time.”

  • Cornbury Festival runs from tomorrow to Sunday at Great Tew Park, near Chipping Norton.
  • Tickets from cornburyfestival.com