Young local songbird Tyra Watts has stunned audiences with her presence and amazing voice, taking out the Youth Mentorship at the popular Mullumbimby Music Festival …
When did you first start getting into music, and what was it that inspired you?
Since I was very little, I have loved listening to music and singing along. Mum always had music playing at home and in the car. I listened to different styles, singers and genres and musicals.
I spent a lot of time playing with my cousins at my Great Grandmother’s place, where she would put DVDs of her favourite musicals on for us. Mary Poppins, Annie and The Sound of Music were some of our favourites and best memories as “the little kids”.
As I became older, I began to listen to more contemporary music and watching singers perform – more recently Ed Sheeran. I prefer watching the musicians up on stage telling their story. Watching these performances inspired me to love music even more. I watched Adele in her album 21 concert on DVD. I’ve been to live concerts and recently The Lion King. I love the theatre of the performance and the story telling by song.
I’ve been learning singing and piano for a few years and have just start the ukulele and guitar recently.
Tell me about your experience at the Mullumbimby Music Festival and winning the 15 year and under Youth Mentorship Programme.
I was encouraged to enter the Mullum Youth Mentorship Programme, not thinking I had any chance of winning this category. I had to send in a track of myself performing, so I sent in an original that I wrote a few months ago. It’s a song called Integrity, which I composed with the ukulele. It’s about feeling good about making the right decision.
When it was announced that I’d won, I couldn’t believe it and was so excited. It meant that I was assigned a mentor, Sal Kimber, won free tickets to the festival, and I was also given a 20 minute performance at the festival.
Sal Kimber and her band, the Rolling Wheel, are based in Melbourne and have both an Australian and International following. Rolling Stone Magazine described Sal as “Australia’s next queen of Country Soul”.
I met Sal on the Friday of the Mullum Music Festival, and she helped me prepare for my performance. She gave me some really good tips on stage presence, microphone technique and confidence. She is going to introduce me to some like-minded musicians, where I can learn more about the industry.
Winning was really exciting; singing on stage in front of people is such an amazing experience and having people like Sal there supporting me, was the best feeling. I thought this was great, considering they could have had better things to do.
Previous song writing category winners, Gabe and Cecilia, were invited to perform at the festival.
What is your musical style?
I like most music, but prefer a mix of Indie, Soul, Blues and a bit of Folk. I sing some versions of songs, but sing them in my style.
Do you perform or jam with any other musicians, or are you a solo artist?
At the moment I prefer to be solo, because it’s hard meeting up with anyone else. Also, I’m starting to play more of the songs I write. Sal has encouraged me to keep composing. At school I sing in a choir and do performances in a variety of places. I haven’t done any busking, but might try some of my music out in Sydney next year. I was competing in the Fast Track Talent Singing Competition and had to pull out of the semi final with a sore throat. It was only days before going to the Mullum Festival, so I wanted to be well for that.
Mike Spooner from ABC Radio 95.5FM invited me to be on his show in mid November. I went into the studio and he played my song on the Friday and played my interview the following Monday. This was organised by the Mullum Youth Mentorship Program. It was easier singing than being interviewed!
What inspires you?
I’m inspired by people who actually believe in what they are doing for all the right reasons. It’s their passion and commitment, and they would give up anything to do what they love.
You compose your own music; what do you like to write about?
I write mostly about life experiences. Sometimes I’m just practicing piano, and a new song just happens. It could be about anything. They tend to be positive and sometimes they’re just fun songs.
Where can you see yourself in 10 years?
I see myself involved in music in some way. There are lots of jobs where music plays an important part. So, in 10 years I want to know that I have followed my passion, achieved what I set out to do and be happy.
How do you like to spend your spare time?
I like going to the beach, socialising, listening to music, singing and making up new songs.
What’s your favourite song to play and why?
My favourite songs to play are the ones that I make up, because I can really feel what they are about and the meaning and story behind them.
Who do you look up to in the music industry and why?
I look up to many artists, such as Sarah Blasko, Adele and Jack Johnson because they are all unique in their own way and have amazing voices. I don’t get bored listening to them.