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Jemma Charlin | 18 | Singer

Black and white portrait of Sydney singer Jemma Charlin, perched on sofa holding microphone.

Speciality time: 14 Years

Inspiration for starting: My choir teacher in primary Preparatory School said I had a nice voice and encouraged further singing lessons.

Full time, part time or hobby: Hobby
I’m studying a music performance degree at JMC.

What’s your biggest claim to fame today?
Doing the Sunrise (morning TV) singing competition in 2013 and getting into the top 15 in Australia.

Can you share your training and journey?
Music has been a part of my life forever. It's something I always want to do.
I really started to expand this year because it's part of the course, but I never really had the skill set to do writing of music etc, and now I have the resources. When I finally got a hold of those resources in uni I was finally able to start creating and putting stuff out there that I'm proud of and want to share. It's been really exciting.

I got into JMC Academy. I did an audition for early acceptance. I had to prepare and perform two songs. After I did it they said ‘Okay, welcome. Let's fill in all info and we'll contact you’. It was all audition based, and it was very exciting.

Do you have a genre you like of songs you sing?
I'm pretty much open to anything, except heavy metal and screamer.

Most proud accomplishment to date?
Getting into my uni course.

How has COVID-19 affected your ability to perform?
I’m studying and can do that from home, but can’t do things like band performance. That kind of performing aspect is hard to do from home. You need that contact with other people. If you're in a band, it's really hard to do it over like Zoom calls. Everything's delayed or out of sync. It's really nice to go in once a week.
Usually there are opportunities to perform in uni, and people use those opportunities. But right now because of all the bars and pubs and everything, it’s quiet at the moment, there's nothing really to do.

When lockdown was first announced, did you have to cancel performances?
I had only been at uni for five weeks. So it was hard to build a bond with people. I’ve got to meet great people and I've made lots of friends from it, but now we're all just online and we're kind of like ‘oh, what am I going to say to each other again’.

How do you feel about COVID-19 closing down most of the performing arts?
It sucks. It's just hard. Because I like performing, I like doing stuff with the band, I like singing with people, not just a computer screen with people. I like the actual buzz and vibe from someone watching. And by not performing, it affects your motivation, it gives you uncertainty and anxiety about what it will be like down the track.

What do you think would happen to society as a whole, if they couldn't have access to the arts for a long period of time?
It's an outlet for people to work, an outlet for their performance, because that's how they share their talent, but it's also an outlet for people to participate as well.

Are there any positives that you've experienced during lockdown?
It's really brought out a lot to me because I finally had that time to really get in and teach myself how to use different applications and music. And teach myself how to play piano, as I recently bought a Kalimba. It’s given me a little kick to start writing stuff.

It's really given me a bit of a push to start doing stuff on my own. I don't know how to read music and I don’t know how to write sheet music, although uni’s teaching me, and I played euphonium in year four but I’ve forgotten, but I'm learning all over again which is nice.

If you could ask a politician to consider one thing about the future of Performing Arts, what would it be?
To get the arts promoted in Australia. Compared to America and England the Australian music industry is very underground.

If you had a magic wand, what would you do next with your singing?
Give myself a starting out platform that allows me to build a following as a pop artist, and maybe promote one song on the radio and grow from there.

What do you hope for future generations?
I hope they have the resources to build themselves up and build a platform, and not have COVID-19 going on. So they can socialise with people and have that interaction with an audience and a band. It's hard to find those resources to get gigs and find places to perform, because you're so new to it that you don't really know where to begin. So it's nice to have someone you know who teachers a newbie about gigs.

When I was nine, all those opportunities that my singing school gave me have always helped me gain confidence, a lot of people get scared off because they don’t know where to start.

Funny recollection
When I first started singing I had my first ever eisteddfod. I was singing ‘Beautiful’ by Christina Aguilera. I got up there and I was really nervous. Whenever I'm really nervous I feel like I want to be sick. I got up, I got through the first verse in the chorus. And then I completely forgot the second verse. I was just so scared and terrified, and I just completely forgot. Then I picked it up with the chorus. Afterwards, I was just crying and saying ‘oh gosh’.

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