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Mid North teen, Gemma Tiller, shines in Australia’s Country Music Scene

At a Primary School concert almost a decade ago, I watched my little girl sing in her one and only singing recital. After just three weeks of singing lessons, it was a proud Mum moment – bless her cotton socks.

Up next, another Tiller was welcomed to the stage (not an uncommon Balaklava name) – and that was the moment I realised that while I may not lay claim to the next Beyonce, there was a Tiller in that Concert Hall who was blessed with a voice! It’s no surprise that I’m now writing about her rise on the National county music circuit.

Raised on dirt bikes and horses in SA’s Mid North, sixteen-year-old, Gemma Tiller, is quickly making a name for herself. Hitting the road out of Halbury, to music festivals all over the country, armed with her acoustic guitar, her own songs, and one hell of a voice, she was recently named in the Top 5 Artists in KIX FM’s Kick Start Competition and has just been accepted into the CMAA Country Music Academy, along with fellow South Aussie singing sensation, Burra’s, Caitlin Drew.

Fresh off of 13 performances at Mildura Country Music Festival, Gemma is looking forward to the opportunity to play to an SA crowd at Port Broughton on October 21, before gearing up for her third trip to Tamworth – this time playing her own shows.

With her sights set on Nashville, and country running through her veins, apart from idols like Zach Bryan and Chris Stapleton, Gemma’s biggest inspiration comes from penning up sheep in the shearing shed.

“Sometimes I hear something said and have to stop and add it to my voice notes. Growing up as a rural kid gives you experiences others aren’t fortunate enough to have,” she said.

As well as still completing school online, Gemma is studying and working in broad acre cropping and livestock production – embracing every moment of life on the land.

Being a fifth generation farmer crossed with some amazingly talented musical bloodlines – she’s a real protege of her family, who she said had been a major support. Two of her uncles are full-time musicians who have played on stages with the likes of Keith Urban and Travis Collins.

Earlier this year, Gemma released her own self-titled EP, featuring original songs co-written with Golden Guitar and Aria Award winning artists, including Lyn Bowtell, Angus Gill, Luke Austen and David Carter.

While she has found creating and recording music remotely an amazing process, having recorded her own cover of LeAnn Rimes’ Blue with guitar back-up straight out of Nashville, she said making a career out of music is now a really “tough gig”.

“Musicians pay thousands of dollars to record and market their songs, and with online streaming platforms there’s not a lot of return,” she said.

“It’s so important for people to keep buying CD’s and merch and supporting singers and songwriters.”

But the future looks bright for the young South Aussie, who dreams of heading to Nashville to record her own music in the not-too-distant future. “She’s the real deal,” Golden Guitar winning singer/songwriter, Angus Gill said.

“I met Gemma last year when she attended a songwriting retreat, which I taught at. I heard her sing on the first night, and I knew I was witnessing a rare talent. She has a strong, mature voice that well defies her age and the authenticity to back it up. Having grown up on a rural property in South Australia, she lives what she sings about. She’s the real deal. Watch this space.”

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