Tara Campbell Believes Music Connects Us All

“Music is the one thing that connects everyone and something that we all experience.” These are words from Tara Campbell, one of Newcastle’s best rising stars. The 17-year old talks about her life as a musician and why she loves it so much.

Growing up with Music

“I’ve always had a passion for music since I was tiny,” Tara says. I meet her in a busy cafĂ© in the Charlestown Square shopping complex. From the moment she starts talking, I am blown away by her maturity at such a young age and the passion she has for music.

“I picked up the clarinet when I was 8 or 9 and music just flowed from there. When I got to year 7, I taught myself the guitar. I also learned piano, ukulele, harmonica, saxophone and singing of course,” Tara says.

It wasn’t until she started performing at local markets that Tara realised she might want a career in music. The first day she made $100,she was excited. “It made me happy that people were listening to my music and giving me money for it,” Tara says. Since then, she regularly plays gigs at markets and shopping centres, having just played at Bunnings in Belmont. “When people just sit there and listen to your music, it’s an amazing feeling”.

Tara’s weekdays are filled with school but on the weekends,she is always performing. “Sometimes it will be both days or just one performing all around Newcastle and the Central Coast,” Tara says.

In a city where everyone knows everyone, it’s not surprising that performing at gigs has lead Tara to meeting other wonderful musicians like Georgina Grimshaw. “I met Georgina doing a gig. It’s nice having older mentors for advice. I played at Georgina’s busking tour which helped me a lot,” she says.

Writing Songs

Being a songwriter, Tara gets every opportunity she can to sing her own songs at gigs, slotting them in between covers. “I like seeing people’s reactions to my original songs as they walk by,” she says.

Tara started writing her own songs when she was in year 8.She admits that her first few songs were rather terrible. One day, Tara was pushed to finally perform one of her originals. “The first time I played one of my own songs was because I won a competition ‘Star on the Rise’ so I got a whole hour segment dedicated to me on STAR F.M,” she says. The radio company wanted her to play an original song. So, she took a leap of faith and played it live to thousands of people in the Central Coast. “It was pretty crazy, but it gave me that push to play my own songs at my gigs,” Tara says.

A majority of musicians I have spoken to compose their songs on the guitar. Tara tells me that she will usually compose on the piano,sometimes making it a bit more challenging to put them on the guitar. She will usually start with the music, as she prefers to write the melody as she writes the chords. So why does she prefer to write songs on the piano? “The diversity that it offers me with chords and key changes,” Tara says. She still plays guitar at her gigs but wants to look at playing an electric piano in the future.

Tara on her musical influences

Tara’s influences come from a different generation- Bob Dylan, The Cranberries and The Beatles. She tells me that their writing content has helped influence her material. “They write about society and what life is like. It’s a nice reflection when you can look at how things have changed, and some things are still so relevant today”.

It’s no surprise then that Tara will often perform the John Lennon classic Imagine at her gigs.“It was written so long ago but every single lyric in the song is so perfect for today’s society,” Tara says. After seeing Bob Dylan live, Tara also felt very inspired by his music. “It was an amazing moment,” Tara says.

She quickly opens up to tell me about her Pop, who listened to a lot of classic artists such as Fleetwood Mac and The Who. Tara says she feels that since he has passed away she started listening to a lot more of that style of music.

Musical Theatre and Starstruck

As a lover of musical theatre, Tara also has the ability to perform in this style as well. Last year, she participated in four musicals: High School Musical, Rent¸ Legally Blonde and Heathers. “All of those are very different styles. But I love it,” Tara says.

She tells me that when she finishes school, she would love to pursue musical theatre. “I’ve been looking into Brent Street (in Sydney). I’ve always had a passion for being on stage. With musical theatre, I can combine everything I love into one. It’s the purest form of entertainment”. Tara also says that she loves the beauty and emotion that musical theatre brings and how making your audience laugh or cry can leave such a big impact. “You don’t get them from a TV show much,” Tara says passionately.

For the last 7 years, Tara has participated in the combined Newcastle and Central Coast Schools production Starstruck.The last 3 years, she has been a backing vocalist and this year was part of the musical theatre ensemble. One thing Tara loves about Starstruck is its’ ability to bring different talented people together. “Were all so different but we all have the same passion to perform. I adore Starstruck and it’s my favourite time of the year,” Tara smiles.

Tara's future

As our interview wraps up, I ask Tara about her plans for the next year or so. She will focus on completing school, having just started year 12. She’ll spend her weekends performing across Newcastle and the Central Coast along with writing new music. She may even release a CD or two in the future.

But one thing she says that really resonates with me is the fact that with so many other musicians out there it won’t necessarily be an easy road to success. “There’s always doubt in my mind thinking ‘what if I don’t make it?’ but I might as well give it a chance.” One thing’s for sure though, with  talent like Tara’s, why wouldn’t you take the chance?

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