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Charmingly gracious

Iluka’s Grace Donsworth performs tomorrow Thursday November 16 at Mullum Music Festival’s opening night gala. Image: Contributed.

Geoff Helisma

Grace Donsworth says she’s “really happy” to have been selected as the under-15 winner of the Mullum Music Festival Youth Mentorship Program … and “stoked” to be performing twice during the festival.

In fact, she is an integral part of the festival’s opening night gala, where she first takes to the stage during the awarding of the mentorships, which are given to four artists under 21 years of age across band, singer songwriter, vocal and under-15 categories.

Grace is more than an accomplished singer, though; she is also a talented songwriter – Ryan Enns, her music teacher since she was in Year 4 at Iluka Public School, says, “She has a great sense of melody and harmony and naturally comes up with hooks that get under your skin; her songs are sometimes stuck in my head for weeks.”
Multiple Dolphin Award winner Paul Agar, who owns and operates Heaven recording studio in Yamba, is also impressed by the young singer songwriter: last year he recorded one of Grace’s songs, See You on the Other Side, which can be heard on Triple J Unearthed.

I hope you miss us like we miss you / I wish I could see you one more time / I’ll see you on the other side / the other side of happiness.
“I wrote that at the time I lost my pop,” says Grace, who has written “nine or 10 songs; I started writing songs when I was 10, together with my friends just mucking around”.
She says her parents have been “really supportive; they drive me everywhere and enter me in all this kind of stuff; I didn’t like entering when I was younger, but now I love it”.
When it comes to the kind of music she listens to, she says her older brothers have been her main influence and that her favourite groups of the moment are Sticky Fingers and Jungle Giants.
The Mullum Music Festival has been supporting and nurturing young musicians (50 to date) through its youth mentorship program for eight years, matching emerging artists with established musicians from the festival line-up, who mentor and provide hands-on practical advice.

Each mentorship winner receives a rehearsal session with their mentor, a 20-minute performance slot at the festival (with their mentor backstage), the opportunity to watch their mentor perform from backstage and a weekend pass to the festival.

A previous mentorship winner, Domini Forster, who is “fast-establishing herself as one of Melbourne’s brightest new voices in modern folk”, according to festival organisers, will mentor Grace.