Media Release, 27 January 2012

Andrew Redford, 19, from the Sunshine Coast in Queensland and Kelly Menhennett, 30, from Barmera in South Australia were crowned the major category winners of the Telstra Road to Discovery during a star-studded event at the 40th Tamworth Country Music Festival tonight.

Performer category winner Andrew and Songwriter category winner Kelly each receive a 12-month music industry mentorship prize package designed to elevate their careers.  The prize includes a trip to “global music city” Nashville, USA, songwriting and recording opportunities and domestic and international performances to help take their music to the masses.

The third Queensland performer of the night, Andrew opened his performance with an original love song “This Night” and hit his crescendo with a second self-penned track titled “Wings”. Andrew captivated the sold out Tamworth crowd with his melodic acoustic sound to secure his win.

A full-time musician, Andrew learnt the guitar at the age of 10 and is now a multi-instrumentalist, describing his music style as indie/pop/folk. He has won a raft of awards, including the 2010 Billy Thorpe Scholarship at Q song Awards and released his third EP in late 2011.

The judges praised Andrew for his vocal ability and stage presence saying his future potential was endless.

“I’m totally speechless. It’s been amazing to meet everyone involved in the program and the incredible talent on stage here tonight. Thank you, I just can’t believe it,” Andrew said.

Kelly was announced as the winning songwriter after performing two original tracks from her impressive repertoire titled “Fly in a Web” and “World of Mine”.

Kelly, the final songwriter contestant of the night, drew in the audience with her soulful performance. To borrow lyrics from her final track, she truly had the “courage to step and the strength to survive” earning her the winning title.

Born and bred in South Australia, Kelly is a professional winemaker by trade, but is now a full-time working musician. This win tops off an incredibly successful year, which featured a performance at the iconic Woodford Folk Festival in December 2011.

Kelly’s honest and convincing performance had the judges marveling at her distinctive sound and unique songwriting ability.

“Honestly, everyone deserved to win. You come into these programs expecting artists with similar sounds, but there was such a strong and diverse range of talent. I’m very blessed to be standing here, but please give a round of applause to my fellow songwriters,” Kelly said.

Telstra Road to Discovery is a national music development program formerly known as the Telstra Road to Tamworth. 

The program’s new name reflects the discovery of up and coming musicians from across  Australia, and now embraces independent artists from a more diverse range of musical genres including blues and roots, folk, country and alt country.

Telstra’s Regional Sales and Service Director, NSW and ACT, Brett Riley, presented Andrew and Kelly with the major prize and praised the diversity of talent in this year’s Telstra Road program.

Telstra Road has unearthed an impressive range of emerging talent in this year’s program and tonight’s show was nothing short of extraordinary.”

“Telstra developed this program nine years ago to create opportunities for independent musicians to share their talent with a wider audience across the nation and abroad.  This year, during the Tamworth Festival’s 40th year, we’re proud to shine the spotlight on two stand-out artists who are part of the next generation of enthusiastic and talented Australian musicians,” Mr Riley said.

Also taking to the stage, fresh from their latest US tour and “Global Artist of the Year” American Country Music Award, were Telstra Ambassador’s The McClymonts, who congratulated the winners and performed a dazzling set which was their first major show back in Tamworth.

Telstra Road program is such a great stepping stone in the development of up and coming musicians.

“The level of support is outstanding and it really opens the door to endless opportunities in the music industry. Andrew and Kelly have an incredible 12 months ahead of them, including the trip to Nashville which is the ultimate dream come true for any aspiring musician,” Sam McClymont said.

Adding to the spectacular line-up of live music on the night was the surprise performance from multi-award winning artist Kasey Chambers joined by her father Bill Chambers and special guest Ashleigh Dallas, who charmed the audience and said the Telstra Road to Discovery was her favourite event of the festival.

Former Telstra Road alumni include inaugural winner Jessica Mauboy, as well as Aleyce Simmonds, Nick Kingswell, Kirsty-Lee Akers, Morgan Evans, Briana Lee, Jasmine Rae, Mark Wells, Peter McWhirter, Corey Colum, Luke Webb, Tenielle, Harry Hookey and David Garnham.

This year’s winning performer and songwriter of the Telstra Road to Discovery will receive a fully tailored package designed to help launch their professional music careers, some highlights are listed below.

Prizes:

Performer Prize

  • Return airfare to Nashville, USA with living and accommodation expenses;
  • A recording session in Australia with a leading producer;
  • The opportunity to perform as part of a showcase in Nashville;
  • Two tickets to a leading American Music Festival in Nashville;
  • Production of a video clip and a professional photo shoot with a stylist;
  • Performance opportunities throughout the 2012 Telstra Road to Discovery heat series;
  • Media training, and professional music industry career guidance;
  • Music marketing and promotional support from Mushroom Marketing and Mushroom Music
  • National publicity and exposure through their association with the Telstra Road to Discovery;
  • Admission into the CMAA Academy of Country Music; and
  • Telstra products and services to the value of $1,000.

Songwriter Prize

  • Return airfare to Nashville, USA with living and accommodation expenses;
  • Songwriting appointments with leading Nashville songwriters;
  • The opportunity to record a professional demonstration track in a US or Australian studio;
  • The opportunity to perform as part of a showcase in Nashville;
  • Media training and professional music industry career guidance;
  • Music marketing, promotional support and songwriting guidance from Mushroom Marketing and Mushroom Music
  • Two tickets to a leading American Music Festival in Nashville;
  • Performance opportunities throughout the 2012 Telstra Road to Discovery heat series;
  • National publicity and exposure through their association with the Telstra Road to Discovery;
  • Admission into the CMAA Academy of Country Music; and
  • Telstra products and services to the value of $1,000.

To learn more about the Telstra Road to Discovery please visit:  telstra.com/trtd