But on her return to Mullumbimby some years ago she decided it was all a bit too hard.
‘I had to put the musician away. I got sick of playing shitty gigs so I thought I’d get a normal job.’
So on went the pencil skirt, the pumps and the red lipstick. Fiona became a real estate agent.
‘When you are a real estate agent you have to be able to cope with criticism, rejection, and be able to accept 97 nos for one yes. It’s cutthroat, it’s back-stabbing and ruthless, so the music industry looks like walk in the park!’
So Dell gathered the cream of the local music industry around her to record Come Home at Tone Ranger in Modanville.
And her experience thus far?
‘So far everyone has said yes! I’ve had 97 yesses and three nos!’
‘These are all my original songs, written between 1996 and 2013. I selected them specifically to work together as a musical landscape. Paul Kelly inspired me with a story-book album and I have a passion for film and TV – I love that the album sounds like it could be a soundtrack to a film. And yes, most of it is about love!’
So how did the local real estate agent find her voice after years in the creative wilderness?
‘A big part of getting me back singing was the jam nights at the Mullum Ex-Services – they run in 3-month sessions. It was interesting. I think it’s funny in a small town, because it’s not how people see you. They’d go there’s the local real estate agent up there singing!
‘Kathryn Jones got me to come to open mic and when she heard my music she said, “God what are you doing? Why don’t you get these songs out there?” I started running out of excuses when I had the money to do it.’
Fiona Dell’s Come Home launches at Mullumbimby Civic Hall on Saturday 14 Feb at 8pm. With special guests The Sharny Russell Trio, Martha Baartz, John Hoffman, Doni Raven and is supported by Gaby Bogart.
Tickets can be purchased at the Empire Cafe, Mullum Mac or on the door for the night. $20 and $15 concession. VIP tix of $35 include a signed album, VIP table and champagne and canapés on arrival. Table of 10 for $150 – both to be purchased online at trybooking.com.
For a taste of what Fiona has in store, go to her website: www.fionadell.com.