Music. The first time former Smithton girl Maddi Saward stepped on stage to perform, she was just three-years-old.
The stage was a converted truck at the Anzac Park Christmas Carols, and the toddler was doing what came naturally having been surrounded by a musical family.
“Mum made me hop up and sing . . . and as they put it, I’ve never got off the stage since.”
Sixteen years later and the performer, who goes by the name Maddi Rose, is wowing audiences worldwide. Most recently, as a support act to rock musician Melissa Etheridge in California, America.
Locals will have the opportunity to see Maddi perform at the upcoming Devil Country Muster, alongside older brother Lachy and former Smithton couple Ben and Vanessa Bishop, who will be back in town for the event.
Maddi, who left Circular Head as a 10-year-old, says she would probably be remembered as “the annoying girl who went around singing” and laughs when she says that not much has changed.
Years of singing in the bedroom of her family’s Gold Coast home have paid off.
In 2011, Maddi was discovered by US artist development company GNS Entertainment and has since written and recorded new music, as well as starring in photo and video shoots.
She has also toured LA and New York, performing at popular venues including The Bitter End and Whiskey A Go Go. Luckily, performing before thousands doesn’t faze her. It’s the intimate audiences that do.
“I get more nervous where I know a lot of people.” Which will be the case in Smithton in February. But, she’s optimistic. “I want to make it fun. Hopefully I impress them.”
While Maddi describes her music as alternative pop-rock, she admits her style is evolving. “My songs are ever-growing, ever-changing as I discover my sound,” she said.
“My slower songs are a twist of country.” For this, she credits a love for Keith Urban’s music and other country music artists including The McClymonts, Loretta Lynn, Lady Antebellum, and Carrie Underwood – who the teen is often likened to.
And her stage presence? “[I’ve been told] ‘You jump around a lot and you like to wave your hair around’,” she laughed. “I m pretty lively. I don’t hold back.”
The year 12 school leaver will focus on writing more music in 2014, as well as another recording session with GNS in Los Angeles.
“My aim is to get more music out to people’s ears, to travel through my music and make people smile with my music.”
To listen to Maddi’s music go to www.maddirose.com.
What: Devil Country Muster
When: Saturday February 22, 11am-10pm
Where: Smithton Recreation Ground
Price: Adults $25, children under 12 free