Posted on Jun 19, 2018 in News

From Cooktown in the Far North, to the beaches of the southern Gold Coast, the BIG SKY GIRLS project has once again discovered some of the incredible musical talent in our communities across Queensland.

Turning the spotlight on musical talent from Queensland’s regional and remote communities is the focus of a unique mentoring project being rolled out over the coming six months. After receiving applications from all over Queensland – ten young women aged between 15 and 25 have been selected to be a part of the 2018 BIG SKY GIRLS program.

The 2018 artists are:

Ella Hartwig: age 15 from Cooktown
Madison Thomas: age 15 from Roma
Brianna and Tianna Dennis: The Dennis Sisters age 17 and 19  from Tewantin
Amber Farnan: age 15 from Cairns
Meg Kirby: age 16 from Toowoomba
Kayla Connors: age 16 from Townsville
Zoey Mills: age 19 from Mackay
Hannah Rosa: age 25 from Southport
Tylah Rose: age 16 from Burleigh Waters

Project manager Deb Suckling said the incredible depth of talent in the applications made it very difficult to select the final ten participants. “It’s a really difficult process to select the final 10 participants – we just wish we could take everyone.” she says “The talent in our regions is incredible and we are thrilled to have the support of Arts Queensland, APRA:AMCOS and Sony ATV to be able to deliver the program once again in 2018. And a special thanks to Virgin Australia for helping us get the artists to Brisbane.”
The application selection was also assisted by Sony ATV’s Craig Hawker – with Sony once again assisting in the project providing one of their writers as part of the songwriting sessions.

An initiative of Brisbane music company SUGARRUSH Music, BIG SKY GIRLS will see the 10 young songwriters attend creative and professional development workshops in Brisbane with established artists and industry professionals  including: Jackie Marshall, Kellie Lloyd, Roz Pappalardo, Sabina Lawrie, Brianna Carpenter, Paula “Jonesy “Jones, Sarah Howells, Leanne Tennant, Sian Evans, Francesca De Valence, Danny Widdicombe, Craig Hawker, Jeff Lovejoy and Craig Spann – with more to be announced.

The selected artists will also be supported through a free six-month mentorship program aimed at in building talent and establishing music careers.

BIG SKY GIRLS will focus on creative songwriting skills and musical composition and industry development and is aimed at developing skills and keeping songwriting and storytelling alive and prospering across regional Queensland.
Aside from workshops and weekly mentoring, the selected participants will also see one of their songs professionally recorded by Jeff Lovejoy (Powderfinger /Resin Dogs, Tex Perkins) and they will be invited to perform at very special showcase in Brisbane this October.


Kayla Conyers:  Kayla is a 16-year-old Year 11 student/singer/songwriter who is originally from Zimbabwe.  She has lived in Australia for the last 11 years.  Kayla was one of five regional finalists in the 2017 Queensland Music Festival’s On Song competition for young singer/songwriters in Queensland.  Kayla regularly performs and busks in Townsville and at community events and was recently privileged to be a part of Townsville’s first combined school’s choir for the opening of the Commonwealth Games.

Madison Thomas: Maddy is a young, passionate guitarist and self taught singer – songwriter based in a regional country town in South West Qld. According to her mother, Maddy has been singing since she could talk. She has performed at a number of school and community events, including lead roles in musicals, eisteddfods, fetes, markets and The Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers. When Maddy isn’t singing, she can be found riding her horses ‘Stella’ and ‘Allegra’, or practicing her Highland Dancing.

Hannah Rosa:  Soulful, dynamic and dreamy, Hannah Rosa is an artist who will capture your heart and command your attention. Armed with velvety vocals and brutally honest lyrics, the Gold Coast based singer-songwriter is developing a reputation for delivering goosebump-worthy performances. Winner of the 2014 People’s Choice Award at the Telstra Road to Discovery, Hannah was also a semi-finalist in the 2015 International Songwriting Competition. Over the past few years, Hannah has supported Kate Ceberano and performed at festivals including the Brisbane Festival, Palm Creek Folk Festival, Teneriffe Festival and Bluesfest Byron Bay.

Tylah Rose: This 16 year old Gold Coast Electronic/Pop artist TYLAH has been writing top lines over the past few years in the EDM scene.  Featuring on tracks, gaining support last year from Above & Beyond and radio shows in Europe, Tylah performed her first international festival spot in Italy last Summer. Locally, Tylah was awarded SongsAlive Australia ‘Acoustic Song of the Year’ 2015 & 2016 and a top 10 finalist for Folk/Acoustic Song in ASA Songwriting Competition 2015.  Tylah also co-wrote the Music Australia MCUI school song ‘Gold’ with Marcia Hines & John Foreman.  Tylah is hoping to finalise her first Pop EP late 2018.

Zoey Mills: Growing up in a world filled with song and melody, Zoey Mills’ love for music started at a very young age. Zoey flourished when she discovered the magic of writing her own music and began to really take a leap into the song writing world. With her unique and captivating voice she has gained a loyal and supportive audience that she is excited to share her up and coming debut EP with. With its catchy tunes, sing along melodies a sprinkle of expressive story telling lyrics, it will certainly be a record to keep your peeled.

Amber Farnan: Amber Farnan is a self-taught, 15-year-old singer/songwriter raised in Cooktown, FNQ. She has been singing for as long as she can remember, and was introduced to piano and song writing at a young age, she has been teaching herself guitar for about 2 years and has recently started teaching herself the Saxophone.  Amber along with her sibling band, “Legends of Perhaps” Recorded their first, self-titled album in 2017 donating 25% of raised profits towards two charity’s. Amber has been playing around music Festivals in QLD since she was 12yrs.  She appeared on “BalconyTV” at age 14yrs along with her band, and they were selected as a finalist in the 2018 Queensland Music awards.

Ella Hartwig: Ella Hartwig is a 15-year-old singer-songwriter from Cooktown – regional Far North Queensland. She has regularly local gigs and has played at Wallaby Creek Festival and Palm Creek Folk Festival, winning second prize in their general song writing competition. Living in a remote town, Ella is studying music through distance education and along with having played piano for the primary school choir eisteddfod, Ella has taught herself to play guitar and experiment with a variety of instruments such as bass guitar, ukulele, mandolin and banjo.

Meg Kirby: Meg  is a 16-year-old singer-songwriter from Toowoomba. She can often be found performing behind her piano and guitar at local cafes and events. Meg’s songs are a blend of piano-based pop ballads with heartfelt lyrics that belie her young age. Her influences include artists such as Tori Kelly, Taylor Swift and Shawn Mendes. Meg began writing songs when she was just ten years old, and made her first recording at age thirteen. She has recorded a few songs since then and will be releasing her debut EP Take Me Away in 2018.

The Dennis Sisters – Tianna and Briannah Dennis: The Dennis Sister’s beautiful sibling harmonies and collaborative songwriting process are highlighted in their debut single ‘Find Me’ from their EP released early 2018, reaching no. 1 on the Triple J Unearthed Roots Charts and earning them a Highly Commended at the the QMA’s.  Though only recently finishing high school on the Sunshine Coast, the duo have already spent three years working hard, forging a career playing festivals including the Gympie Muster, Caloundra MF, Tamworth CMF, Groundwater CMF and placing in the top 30 on X Factor 2016. With Tiana on guitar and Briannah grooving it out on bass, their love of performing both together and in their band shines.