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Coasting : Issue 12 June 2010
central coast • new south wales COASTING MUSIC Aleyce Simmonds finds her voice By DAVID STEWART 4 IDENTITY: Aleyce Simmonds, of Terrigal, said it was a liberating feeling to finally realise what type of artist that she wanted to be. LOCAL LOVES: LOCAL LOVES: Aleyce lists Aleyce lists Yarramalong Valley, Yarramalong Valley, Wamberal Beach and Wamberal Beach and Wattle Tree Road, at Wattle Tree Road, at Matcham, as among Matcham, as among her favourite Central her favourite Central Coast locations. Coast locations. In Felicity’s footsteps Simmonds shares plenty of common ground with Golden Guitar winner Felicity Urquhart, another Central Coast country songbird and former Tamworth resident. ‘’Felicity started out singing in Tamworth in a little club called the CCMA and, 20 years later, I went on to join the CCMA and won some of the same prizes that Felicity had won,’’ Simmonds said. ‘’Felicity is such an incredible role model. Not only is she a beautiful singer, but she’s a beautiful person, and that makes all the difference.’’ Like Urquhart, Simmonds said starting her musical apprenticeship in Tamworth was a godsend. ‘’Tamworth definitely gave me the advantage of playing with live bands, and it would have been the same for Felicity,’’ she said. ‘’There’s a great avenue there for young singers to get up and perform with bands and learn the ropes of the country music industry.’’ That was something that Simmonds admitted she took for granted at the time. That all changed, however, after she began touring Australia and met many longtime country singers who never had the same opportunities early in their careers. They say that you get only one chance to make a first impression. Central Coast country music performer Aleyce Simmonds, 23 , believes the adage is particularly true for recording artists. “ I was given some really good advice by a lady at Sony-BMG about five years ago,’’ the Terrigal singer-songwriter said. “ She said ‘You never get to make your debut album again. You need to make it the best possible album it can be, because in many ways it’s what forms your career’.” The words made an impression on Simmonds who decided in an instant that she wanted to do things right. “ I want to make an album that I can look back on in 10 years and be really proud of,” she said. Some would say that Simmonds’s debut album has been a long time coming. After all, she won the Telstra Road to Tamworth talent quest as an 18-year-old in 2005, and was hailed as a potential golden girl of Australian country music. As part of her prize she won a trip to Nashville, and in 2006 she signed a development deal with Sony-BMG. But any temptation to fast-track a debut album was resisted. Instead, Simmonds spent the next five years honing her skills, and finding her voice. ‘’ It was all about the development of my singing and songwriting,” Simmonds said. ‘’I’ve been working with Sony over the past five years and that has been something that we’ve spoken a lot about at meetings – trying to become a better songwriter and making an album that I could be really proud of.’’ As part of her musical development, Simmonds co-wrote songs with a diverse range of artists including Rick Price, Graeme Connors and Suzy Connolly. ‘’I did co-writing sessions with a million people – pop writers, country writers, and rock writers – and just tried to find what it was that I loved.’’ She found a love for big production country music. You might even call it American country. ‘ ’I love the Carrie Underwood and Faith Hill kind of music, and that’s what I write,’’ she said. ‘ ’It really was a great experience to find the kind of artist that I wanted to be.’’
Issue 11 May 2010
Issue 13 July 2010