Two songs from the dirtgirlworld musical are nominated for Dolphin awards.
Two songs from the dirtgirlworld musical are nominated for Dolphin awards.

Youth and experience for Valley's Dolphin finalists

THE Clarence Valley's two finalists for this year's North Coast Dolphin Music awards are at opposite ends of their musical journey, but both say they are looking forward to being part of the 25th year of celebrating North Coast Music.

Cate McQuillan and Hewey Eustace have scored two nominations in the music for children section for the songs "So Not A Princess” and "What a Load of Rubbish”, taken for their dirtgirlworld musical from earlier in the year.

And although the duo have been internationally awarded for their dirtgirlworld creation, Cate said it's great to be recognised in their home and celebrating with local musicians, and to revive an early connection with the awards.

"When we first moved to the area from Melbourne, they did the very first Dolphin awards on the quiet, and then the next year put out a call to come and help produce the awards,” Cate said.

"I'd previously done producing work with the Melbourne International Fringe festival, so Hewey and I put our hand up and produced the second and third Dolphin Awards.

"We popped all the categories together with the NCEIA committee, who included (Bluesfest director) Peter Noble and (Lantern Festival coordinator) Jilly Jackson, and it was a great group of people who really wanted to celebrate the diversity of music in the Northern Rivers”

Just prior to the creation of the dirtgirlworld television show they are internationally renowned for, the pair won the Album of the Year award for the initial dirtgirlworld musical release.

"And it was a big surprise, we were up against people like Grace Knight and Greg Champion, and for a kids album to win it was really fun; we were very honoured, and it gave us a lot of encouragement and off went,” she said.

"And this year we thought it's the 25 year anniversary and let's participate, so we popped a couple of songs in and here we are.

"We're really happy to be able to get to hang out with our wonderful muso friends.”

At the other end of the musical spectrum, Maclean singer Grace Hickey's song "Cactus Flower” has been nominated for the youth award, as well as for female vocal of the year, and the song reflects her current musical journey.

Singer Grace Hickey is back in the Lower Clarence to sing at the Surfing The Coldstream Festival.
Singer Grace Hickey is back in the Lower Clarence to sing at the Surfing The Coldstream Festival. Adam Hourigan

"Lyrically it's about striking a balance between being patient and being passive, and understanding that beautiful things can take some time to come about, but always not using that as an excuse for waiting for things to come,” she said.

"It's really relevant for me, because I'm still at a point of deciding where I want to go with my music, but I'm trying to not let stop me forging ahead and making things happen for myself.”

The song was written earlier in the year, and released on an EP produced as part of the trio "Solstice” with Jasmine Ohlmus and Breanna Ryan.

"The song was pretty spontaneous as far as my writing process goes - it came together really quickly,” she said.

"It's an acoustic arrangement, a pretty mellow sounding song, with some complex melodies that build up to a high sustained chorus, with mostly acoustic guitar complemented by Breanna's beautiful cello bass line.

"It's a ballad, but it really drives along.”

Nominated in the youth category two years, Grace said she was excited about this year's nomination.

"It's the 25th anniversary... and apparently it's going to be a pretty big night and I'm really happy to be a part of it,” she said.

"At the moment I'm jumping between performing with another act in Sydney, and back here with my own act so I've been pretty busy, and I was pretty sure I hadn't gotten in, but I got the phone call that I was in on the last day so I was really happy.”

The 25th Dolphin Awards will be presented at the Ballina RSL on December 6 with special guests Layne Beachley and former INXS band member Kirk Pengilly. There are 10 live performances on the night, and tickets are available from the Ballina RSL.

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