Introducing Jessica Maree, the winner of CAN GIVE DAY Live singing competition in 2021 with a moving performance on the night, and with a total of $4,424 raised from voters and fans during her Live singing quest.
The event was held on CAN GIVE DAY 2021, Friday 29th October. You can read more about the singing competition and fundraising benefits, watch all the performances, and hear the judges comments here. (Watch the video from 11 minutes, 8 seconds to see Jessica's performance). Jessica was accompanied by Caleb Campbell on piano.
Let's spend some time with Jessica as we get to know all about her.
GETTING TO KNOW JESSICA
Q. When did you discover your love of singing and performing?
A. I can’t remember a time where singing wasn’t a part of my life. My parents were both very musical people and shared that love with me and my sisters from a young age. There’s a tape somewhere of an 8 year old me auditioning for Australian Idol, which was a dream for quite a few years. I performed in talent shows in primary school, and from age 12-18 I was in as many musicals as I could manage.
Q. Have you had any formal training?
A. I had roughly 5 years of piano lessons as a child but it wasn’t until I went to Canberra Institute of Technology to study performance that I had private vocal lessons. These were with the amazing Livia Brash for about 6 months. While studying at CIT, I obtained my Advanced Diploma in Music Performance. Then when I was accepted into the Australian National University to study music, I was given the opportunity to learn from the incredible Rachael Thoms for a year as part of the program. Here I also obtained my Bachelor in Music, with a focus in Jazz and Contemporary Vocals and Composition.
Q. Growing up were there any performer/s you dreamed about being?
A. Growing up we listened to a lot of artists: Elvis, Billy Joel, Neil Diamond, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Johnny Cash, Cat Stevens and Dean Martin. In fact, the first artist I saw live was in 2006, when Billy Joel toured Australia. And I think that was one of the first moments that I was really inspired to become a musician. As I grew up I’ve also been influenced by and looked up to Adele, Sara Bareilles, Tori Kelly, Sarah Vaughan, Haley Williams, Julien Baker and bands like Mayday Parade.
Q. What led you to enter the CAN GIVE DAY Live singing competition?
A. This foundation is close to my heart. My Dad passed away in March of this year. And over the past 20 years, he had spent a lot of time in Canberra Hospitals and I hope this is a way to thank all of those who worked, helped and supported him and my family during those times.
My audition song was dedicated to one of my best friends, Emily. She is a registered nurse who works in Canberra, and this is one of her favourite songs. Then the song I performed in the finals was dedicated to my Dad and everyone who has lost a loved one.
Q. How did you feel going into the performance on the afternoon of CAN GIVE DAY, Friday 29th October 2021?
A. I was pretty nervous! Although I’ve been studying and performing for several years, I have anxiety, which tends to flare up before performances. I knew that it was going to be difficult for me to get through the song without my emotions getting the better of me because of how close to my heart it was. Then hearing my clip before my performance really got me choked up, but I was determined to do the song justice. I also knew that whatever the outcome was, I was there to raise money for an amazing cause so I took comfort that at the end of the day I would’ve at least done that.
Q. Top 3 tips for performing?
- Know your material. The better prepared you are, the better you’re going to feel going into the performance. You can then take comfort in the fact that you’ve done everything you can, and whatever else happens is up to the universe.
- Try to take deep breaths. As someone who struggles with anxiety, it can be really easy to let those emotions get away from you. So take time beforehand to breathe and ground yourself, reassure yourself that ‘you’ve got this!’ You can also do this on stage before a song begins (or in between if you’re doing more than one song), take your time and give yourself a moment to centre yourself.
- Be in the moment. Focus on the song, focus on the lyrics, the meaning and the emotions that come with it. If you’re feeling what you’re singing (whatever the emotion is) the audience will feel it too. And I think that’s what makes a great performance. It doesn’t matter if it’s not technically perfect or if your pitch is a little off, if your heart is in it, ours will be too and that’s what I think matters most.
Q. What are you most looking forward to asking Leo Sayer in your mentoring sessions with him?
A. I’m so excited for this! I’m really looking forward to asking him what he thinks should be the next steps that I take in my music career. I hope to get his advice on any releasing strategies he might have as I’m working towards releasing some original music next year. I can’t wait to ask if there is anyone he knows who might be able to support me through that process. (Get some behind-the-scenes insights into who Leo Sayer really is, here).
Q. Where can your new fans see you next? Where can they follow you?
A. At the moment I have a couple of gigs lined up for January. You can find me at the Dickson Taphouse on Friday 28th January from 8:00-11:00pm and then at the Old Canberra Inn in Lyneham on Sunday 30th January from 4:00-7:00pm.
You can also follow me on most socials where you’ll get updates on any upcoming performances.
Last question: What is your favourite thing to do in Canberra?
A. That’s a tough one - I can’t choose! I love going on walks around Canberra, whether it’s around the lake, up Mount Taylor or just around the suburbs, Canberra is just so beautiful. I also enjoy going to the movies at either Palace Electric in New Acton or Limelight in Tuggeranong. I haven’t been in a while, but I really love going bouldering (like rock climbing with shorter walls and no harness) at BlocHaus in Hume, then going for burgers and beers at Capital Brewing and Brodburger around the corner. I also thoroughly enjoy a good escape room, and there are plenty of those in Canberra now! And of course, going and watching live music. Although it’s a rough time, with COVID, the scene is starting to pick up again and Canberra has some incredible local artists!
Jessica Maree is an award-winning singer, songwriter/composer and private vocal coach.
In her early career, she was self-directed in her music development, later obtaining an Advanced Diploma in Music Performance from the Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT) and an Undergraduate Bachelor Degree in Music from the Australian National University, with a focus on jazz/contemporary voice and composition.
She has been on tour twice with the CIT and these shows featured original work by herself & other students on the tour.
Her greatest honour to date was performing for Sir Cosgrove the Governor-General, his wife Lady Cosgrove and their guests at Government House. Her skill, determination and dedication was recognised when she was awarded the Bill Hyslop Prize for Voice in 2018.
In 2019 Jessica focused on developing her compositional skills. Her ambition resulted in Jessica being selected to write the music for the 60th Anniversary of the Australian of the Year Award state ceremonies. She was also selected to participate in the 2020 International Fusion Film Scoring Workshop.
Jessica was proud to perform with the ANU Contemporary Choir at the ACT Flag Raising Ceremony on Australia Day in 2020.
Jess’ current project is writing, workshopping, rehearsing and producing her original music. She’s hopeful that she’ll be able to release sometime in 2022.