As an event seeded in a small town, Mullum Music Festival maintains its commitment to foster new and emerging talent. The Youth Mentorship has been one of the festival initiatives that has helped shine the light on young musicians, offering them the unique and very important opportunity to perform alongside national and international industry professionals. Last year Glenn Wright’s director’s pick Megan Donnelly was finishing Year 12 at Mullum High; this year she’s heading to Sydney, having just been accepted into AIM School (Australian Institute of Music). She will also be playing an hour spot at the local festival, featuring her 20-plus original songs.
Eighteen-year-old Megan credits Mullum Music Festival with helping her realise her dream to become a professional musician.
‘Mullum Music Festival really helped me. I won director’s pick and I performed on opening night – it was really fun, it was a great vibe, and it was the biggest performance I had done! I used to get bullied a bit in high school for trying to sing, and I guess that night it helped me to believe in myself.’
It’s a big transition going from a 10-minute spot on opening night to a full hour as part of the program, but Megan is well up to the challenge.
‘I will mainly be performing original music. I want to take the audience on a journey with the music I write, show them different arrangements – I have a different style, not jazz not soul not folk – I am not sure really what it is!’
Megan’s musical heroes aren’t Taylor Swift, Katy Perry or any of the swag of pop music icons that haunt most teenager’s iPods.
‘I listen to Whitney Houston, in fact every song that was ever made with her voice on it – I am pretty much a Whitney Houston stalker! I love Mariah Carey, Minnie Ripperton; I like soulful music.’
For Megan songwriting is a very organic experience.
‘I write songs like a tree growing; you start off with a few ideas and then you find little random ideas and the song grows like a tree. I love writing music to help people feel things, to help them feel the realness. Music does special things…
‘I write mainly just love songs, because everyone can relate, or inspirational getting-stronger or moving-on songs, or just last week a song about living under the ocean; it’s random stuff that makes people think.’
As an artist, Megan is already learning how to use her life for inspiration.
‘I had a little relationship. I was really into the guy but he wasn’t that into me. I got my heart broken and he was on to the next girl. I got about three songs out of that – I am still writing them a year and a half later! I wonder if he’s heard them – I put one on sound cloud!’
Although Megan starts her music course in September, she’ll be coming home to Mullum Music Festival.
‘It’s sad leaving, but I am drawn to the city. I want to be in a band; I definitely want to make an album. I am a country girl going to the city.’
So does Megan think the city is going to change her?
‘I have to watch myself; they all wear high heels. I might just keep my fluoro tie-dye shirts and joggers – and tell them I’m from Mullumbimby.’
Thank god she’s a country girl.
Megan Donnelly is a featured artist at this year’s Mullum Music Festival. For more program information and details about the 2015 Youth Mentorship to be announced any day now, go to mullummusicfestival.com or call 6684 6195.