Gladstone singers looking to turn heads at Tamworth
RISING country music stars Mikayla J and Brittany-Elise Johansen already have their January calendars full as they head south to chase dreams.
The Gladstone girls are on their way to Tamworth, the heart of Australian country music, to participate in the 2018 CMAA Senior Academy of Country Music.
Hosted by the Country Music Association of Australia, the January 6-20 program is for singers, performers, songwriters and instrumentalists seeking to quickly jump to the next stage in their country music career.
The artists will come from all over Australia and even India - a first for the academy, and ages will range from 16 to 54.
Former Benaraby local, Mikayla J will attend her first Academy after receiving a grant.
"My trip was made possible because I got a RADF (Regional Arts Development Fund) grant through the (Gladstone Regional) Art Gallery, which helped pay for it,” she said.
"The Academy takes around 27 people each year from all over Australia and New Zealand and it's pretty much a two-week intensive course on country music and the industry in Australia.
"It's taught by some of the best people in the industry.”
The 22-year-old has shared the stage with notable artists in the past including Graeme Connors, Melinda Schneider, Adam Harvey and Gangajang.
She released her debut EP, When Lightning Strikes in 2016 and has been touring the release ever since.
Mikayla J is currently on a road trip to Tamworth and will stay in the city until the end of the month when the January 20-29 Tamworth Country Music Festival wraps up.
Describing her music as 'modern country with an edgy twist', Mikayla J is looking to rub shoulders with big wigs of the industry when she arrives in the country music capital.
"I'd like to get some support from within the industry and I'm hoping to gain some positive networks that can continue to help me with programming and performing in the future.
"I'm definitely looking at ways to develop my music, even as far as to record my next CD or performing at festivals.”
Meanwhile, 23-year-old singer/songwriter Brittany-Elise hopes to continue to develop her writing and performing skills at the Academy, while working with professionals in the business.
Having completed her teaching degree at university, the former Mackay resident now lives in Gladstone where she continues to perform at festivals, private functions and local venues.
She has worked with and supported artists such as Lee Kernaghan, Allan Caswell and Graeme Connors and won numerous awards for her service to music and the community.
The Academy was created in 2009 after the merging of the CMAA Australian College of Country Music and the Tamworth Camerata Junior Country Music School.
Brittany-Elise is a graduate from the Junior Academy of Country Music.