Posted on Feb 27, 2017 in News

It has been incredibly hard to pick just ten, but we can now officially announce the young women from across Queensland who will take part in the first ever BIG SKY GIRLS mentoring program.

Turning the spotlight on musical talent in Queensland’s regional and remote communities is the focus of a unique new mentoring project being rolled out over the coming six months. After receiving applications from all over Queensland – ten young women aged between 15 and 18 have been selected to be a part of the inaugural BIG SKY GIRLS program.

Project manager Deb Suckling from SUGARRUSH Music said the incredible depth of talent in the applications made it very difficult to select the final list of participants. “Being the first year of this program – we were unsure how many applications would come through,” she explains. “But we were really overwhelmed with the talent in these applications and I truly wish we could have taken them all. We just can’t wait to get started.”

They are: Ruby Gilbert, Jessikah Baillie, Leah Reuben Mason, Asha Jeffries, Jamison Kehl, Tia Gostelow, Grace Gallagher, Jessica Coleman, Malia Stirling, and Doolie Shadworth (pictured).

BIG SKY GIRLS is also proud to welcome new project partner, music-publishing powerhouse Sony ATV. The company’s Head of A&R Craig Hawker was involved in the selection process with one of Sony ATV’s high-profile songwriters to be announced soon as part of the project’s mentoring sessions.

“The core of our business is songs, and everyone at SonyATV is very excited to be supporting this project,” Craig said. “We know there are incredible emerging songwriters in all corners of this country and projects like BIG SKY GIRLS not only draw attention to these emerging artists, but help them hone their songwriting craft and launch their careers in music. I think the songs that will come out of this program will be really something else.”

An initiative of Brisbane music company SUGARRUSH Music, BIG SKY GIRLS will see these young songwriters matched with established artists Jackie Marshall, Kellie Lloyd, Roz Pappalardo, Áine Tyrrell, Emma Bosworth, Sabina Lawrie and Francesca De Valance – with more to be announced – 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 weekly mentoring, the selected participants (aged 15 – 25) will also see one of their songs professionally recorded by Brisbane music legend Jeff Lovejoy and they will be invited to perform at very special showcase shows in Brisbane and in Cairns.

And the participants are:

Ruby Gilbert
Ruby Gilbert is an 18-year-old singer-songwriter who was raised in the sup-tropical foothills of South-East Queensland. She has played festivals around Australia, including the Tamworth Country Music Festival, the Gympie Music Muster, Caloundra Music Festival, Urban Country Music Fest, as well as other music festivals. Ruby plans to release her long-awaited debut EP late 2017.

Jessikah Baillie
This North Queensland based singer song writer has been developing her “instrument” from as soon as she could speak and has been defining her individual sound to embark on her independent brand of distinctive flourishing female vocals and harmonies. Since graduating from the CMAA Academy of Country Music in 2015
Jessikah has pondered her growth from talented local artist to a statement-making and self-assured creative young musician. Jessikah has been described as “coming out” from her original roots of country to her new found passion for modern music styles and craft.

Leah Reuben Mason
Leah is 16 years old and currently a part time student at The Holy Spirit Catholic college in Far North Queensland and part time student at TAFE currently studying Certificate II in Hospitality. She trains 6 days a week in amateur boxing and her ambition is to develop skills in song writing, performances, recording and to build confidence.

Asha Jeffries
Over the past five years, recent high school graduate Asha Jefferies has been turning her passion into a reality with a little help from a trusty guitar and way too much black coffee. Showcasing her eclectic folk/roots sound has given her opportunities such as being chosen to play at the Byron Bay Bluesfest, to backyards in West End and supporting Ella Hooper on her tour throughout Queensland.

Malia Stirling
Malia has a classically influenced distinct style, with blues and folk undertones. Her original music addresses issues beyond her years inviting the listener to have both emotional and sensory responses. At 16 years old, Malia is already making a name for herself across the Sunshine Coast – playing regular gigs in restaurants, hotels and at organised events. With achievements including her 2016 performance as a lead vocalist in Creative Generations (Queensland State Schools); an appearance on Balcony TV; 5th place in the youth section of the 2016 ASA Songwriting competition –  for her recently released single and an EP on its way, Malia is set to continue making a name for herself in 2017.

Jamison Kehl
Jamison is a 15-year-old self-taught singer – songwriter and guitarist, currently in Grade 11 at Noosa District State High School, in the town of Cooroy. When she is not singing – she is usually out with her two beautiful horses, Whisper and Dustee.

Tia Gostelow
Tia matches her unique voice with rich instrumentals to create her distinctive style – contemporary folk intertwined with blues, and indie rock. A stylewhich earned recognition from Triple J Unearthed, winning their Indigenous Initiative and, separately, a place in their Triple J Unearthed High Top 5 Finals, both in 2016.
One of Australia’s most promising emerging talents hailing from Mackay, Tia values the art of songwriting and creating music with integrity. She is currently in Year 12.

Grace Gallagher
Sixteen year old Grace Gallagher is in the midst of completing her final year at Fairholme College Toowoomba. She has had the majority of her learning through her exposure in music and also studies Music Extension. Having sung for as long as she can remember and played guitar for nearly 4 years she is overwhelmed with the opportunity to experience the creation of music outside of school choir and ensembles.

Jessica Coleman
Jessica Coleman has just graduated from highschool in Townsville and has been singing and writing songs for as long as she can remember. At age 11, she scored her first accolades in the Queensland Music Awards for her heartfelt song Daddy and plans on continuing her songwriting in 2017 now that school is out the way.

Doolie Shadworth
A determined soloist, having entertained from the young age of four, DOOLIE has always been singing, and began playing violin and piano, progressing through a strong interest to acoustic guitar where she discovered her passion and natural talent for songwriting. She has not stopped since; continuing at a young age to perform at venues around the Sunshine Coast and at a number of local festivals: The Avant Garden Party (Caloundra Fringe Festival), Yandina Street Festival, Booin Gari Festival, Noosaville, Noosa Jazz Festival. At 16yrs old she performed for BalconyTV Sunshine Coast, an original song: ‘Soldier’ which earned her the ‘Most Popular New Video Page – Website’ award in April 2015. Doolie’s versatile songwriting has earned her two nominations in the 2016 QLD Music Awards and won ‘Best Song’ in the ‘Schools’ category for her song: ‘PRISTINE’.

This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.