Piper Butcher- A Rising Star

Piper Butcher has been singing almost as long as she has been talking. As a 2 year-old, she used to sing the 'oh oh' part in Landslide. Now 13, she is paving her own way in Newcastle's music scene.

Piper finds her talent

I meet Piper and her mother Michelle at a local coffee shop. The two are very friendly, welcoming and strike up an easy conversation. Straight off the bat I learn that although Piper has been singing a majority of her life, she only started playing guitar when she was 10. "I was picking up dad's old guitar at first. I knew how to play the Ukulele and knew that the bottom string on it was the same as the top string of a guitar," Piper says. She began learning riffs based on that one string and slowly progressed to three chords. "Dad taught me Sweet Home Alabama, so I started plating that. I got my fingers right and started to play guitar properly."

Piper got her first guitar as a Christmas present. It cost $100 from JB Hifi. If you aren’t familiar with the cost of musical instruments that it is a fairly cheap guitar. Still, it allowed Piper to practice her guitar and grow her skills.

[caption id="attachment_683" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Performing at the Peppertown Music Jam[/caption]

Finding her place in the local music scene

Piper played in the comfort of her own home until her first public appearance at The Hood Milk Bar Open Mike with Henry Hookey. Initially, Harry wanted Michelle to play the tambourine. She suggested that Piper play the guitar. She sang Heartbreak by Angus and Julia Stone with Harry playing the harmonica next to her.

Her first busking gig was at the Tuggerah Super Centre. "It was 3 hours' worth of songs for my first busking gig," Piper says. This gave her a taste for what busking and performing for people regularly would be like.

She decided to branch out to local open mic nights such as the Peppertown Music Jam. It was originally held at the Peppertown Coffee Bar in Mayfield. The owners, Melody and Michael have recently moved to Queensland and the cafe has closed. The Jam still live on at the Stag and Hunter Hotel. Piper is a regular there and co-hosted it a few weeks back. You can read about that here: https://creativecollectionsblog.com/2018/05/28/peppertown-jam/. She still remains in contact with Melody and Michael. "I call them my music parents because we are so close. I even played at Melody's CD launch because she liked me so much." 


[caption id="attachment_713" align="aligncenter" width="225"]Piper Butcher Performing at the Peppertown Jam.[/caption]

Tamworth Country Music Festival

This year, Piper attended the Tamworth Country Music Festival for the first time. I can see how amazing her time was from the excitement in her voice as she tells me. "I was a little nervous at first because I'm not really country like everyone else there. I didn't know if I would fit in."

 She decided to enter a few competitions during her time there. The feedback she received was invaluable. "I loved getting feedback about my style. They just said to keep building so it was all really constructive feedback."

They were there for 10 busy days, but it certainly was a positive experience. Those 10 days were full-on, with something scheduled nearly every day. Still, Piper found time to hang out with Lili Crane and Georgina Grimshaw while she was there and watch other performers as well.

[caption id="attachment_714" align="aligncenter" width="200"] Photo: Third Corner Photography[/caption]

South Australia

Piper has recently returned from a trip to Barmera, South Australia. She spent her time there with other musicians and busking. It was an amazing experience for her. She tells me how she decided to enter -a talent quest there in the 14 and under category and the first open category. "I didn't know anyone else there and I was really nervous." 

Part of the judging component is attire so after her first song, Piper went and changed. She then performed her second song and had lunch with her family. By the time the evening came around and it was time for the presentation, Piper was pretty nervous and excited. It was the result that Piper wasn’t expecting- first place in the 14 and under category. "I was an out of towner, so I wasn't expecting to get first place at all!"

After receiving her award for that category, she wouldn’t be comfortable for long. Piper’s name was called out in 2nd place for the first Open Category. "I flipped!" She had her picture taken with the other winners, which was published in the local newsletter.

Frank Harding Award during her SA stay

The good news didn’t stop there for Piper. Because she came first in her category, she was in the running for the Frank Harding award, the final award to be presented the following morning. The next day, Piper turned up to the venue ready to compete. She sang against adults and locals, fearing that being from Newcastle might be her downfall. "After my song, I was so nervous. I was sweating. Half and hour later when they came up on stage to announce the winner, I was shaking."

Sure enough, Piper Butcher was announced as the winner of the Frank Harding trophy. She received a cash prize and got photos with the massive trophy which will soon have her name on it. "Mum, Dad and I were crying with joy. Afterwards, all the judges congratulated me and said how much they enjoyed my performance". The Butcher family returned back to Newcastle full of joy and elation.

[caption id="attachment_715" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Piper with the Frank Harding trophy
Photo: Ian Fisk[/caption]

Piper's  song-writing future

It is clear that at just 13, Piper’s voice and performances are captivating people everywhere. She is even opening for Diesel in July at Lizotte’s (in Newcastle) and has just been accepted into the Junior Country Music Academy in Tamworth. She is definitely hitting music goals.

For now, she performs covers of some of her favourite songs but may look to try her hand at song-writing in the future. "I used to tread in that water a little bit. I was thinking of writing a song with Lili Crane as a starter. I have the motivation, but I don’t really know where to start,” Piper says.

Although she may not write her own songs, it certainly doesn't get in the way of her talent. Earlier in the year, Piper took a masterclass with lead singer of Thirsty Merc, Rai Thistlethwayte. Needless to say she was starstruck. She did gain a few bits of knowledge about songwriting though. "“He said to collaborate because it takes the pressure off so you can focus on one part so it comes together a little bit nicer,” mum Michelle adds.

Her musical influences

I ask Piper who some of her musical influences are, partly expecting her to rattle off a bunch of modern music that teenagers enjoy. I am surprised to learn that she loves listening to old school legends. "I love the Foo Fighters. It’s a branch out from what I do but I really love their music. Phil Collins is my guilty pleasure. He is absolutely awesome,” Piper says.

She has a wide range of musical influences, something I think a lot of musicians need in order to broaden their repertoire. Piper also admires a lot of local Newcastle musicians as well who have helped her with her music along the way. “Nat Henry and Emily Smith are awesome artists. I learned from Emily about lead guitar. I just feel so connected. The way Nat words her songs make me sit back and think ‘wow’”. She also enjoys listening and watching Georgina Grimshaw and Lili Crane play.

Where she sees her music heading

Although she is only a young teenager, Piper is already looking towards her future. She says she feels complacent with her music sits now. “I’m not expecting to get any bigger with my music than I am now but if it did happen then I would think that was pretty cool.” Her dream job, however, would be sports journalism. She loves both sport and writing.

Piper Butcher is young, talented, polite and has an aura that can only be described as mesmerising. Her voice takes you to another world. Our interview left me smiling because Piper is such a positive and happy person. I hope the future for Piper remains strong because she deserves it to. She will be performing at Peppertown Jam this Wednesday and will continue to impress crowds around Newcastle for the rest of the year. Opening for Diesel, well that just proves that Piper has some skill.