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Sumira Mahoney at her debut show at Chatsworth Island Hall this month. Image: contributed

Sumira shines in debut sold-out show

Rodney Stevens


Local singer songwriter Sumira Mahoney is on a high following her recent sold-out debut solo performance as part of the 2023/2024 Talent Development Project.

Performing under her stage name Mira, the 17-year-old Maclean High School student wowed a packed Chatsworth Island Hall this month, completing her second phase of the project.

The Talent Development Project which began in 1991 is a not-for-profit foundation developing and igniting the creativity and the musical talents of young singers, songwriters, theatre performers and instrumentalists from NSW Government high schools.

“The Talent Development Project TDP is a program in Sydney, where students from NSW high Schools go through three phases of working with industry professionals, learning different aspects of performing to really get our craft polished, developing our craft to become a professional performer,” Sumira said.

“First, we did a video audition round, to get into the program, 150 of us made it to the live audition, then 35 of us made it to the first phase. After a few months 20 were chosen to continue to phase two.”

“We are asked to complete homework tasks as part of the workshop preparations each month. For one task to complete the second phase, I had to write an original song exactly two minutes long, provide it by January 1 for another TDP participant to create a cover version, and prepare someone else’s song to cover in my most recent workshop in Sydney.

“I just finished phase two and my final assignment was to put on my debut show.”

After tickets for her debut gig sold-out, keen supporters showed up on the night with more tickets sold at the door. What an incredible experience to perform in front of a full house.

Sumira Mahoney and Ethan Moore. Image: contributed

“It was really intense and I’m so grateful for having such an enthusiastic support system around me,” she said. “It was an inspiring experience performing with my family and friends.”

Music is a family affair for the Mahoney’s, with mum Sahnti (a previous lead singer of popular local band Hekyl and Jive) also a former TDP participant in the same year as Grafton’s Brooke McClymont, dad Jim a music loving singer and guitarist, younger sister Alora who was a featured artist in the 2024 Schools Spectacular, and elder brother Hendrix who plays piano and bass guitar.

“I was performing with my family, including mum and dad, my little sister Alora, and my brother Hendrix, as well as other Maclean High students Luke Young and Kurt Roberts, who are both in Killswitch, a local band, plus Ethan Moore on bass and acoustic guitar.

“My back-up vocalist Sabrina Bowly was also my opener, with her duo partner Luciano Kurdi on guitar.”

“In my show I performed a few musical theatre songs, I had Jazz, R and B, Soul, Rock, Pop, and some of my originals as well.

“Coming into TDP, everyone there kind of has a specific genre, and one of the things that has made me very different to them all is, I don’t have a specific genre.”

Sumira said throughout the project she has gained invaluable knowledge and honed her craft as a singer, while developing her songwriting and performance skills.

“I have been learning to write originals and getting a better structure and finding the differences between a hit song and a really good song,” she said.

“The difference is a really good song is actually music that makes the audience feel something.”

“My new song is called “Roll the Dice”, which is about thinking of revenge, but instead I’m just going to let Karma come and get you.”

Now Sumira is waiting to find out if she makes it to phase three of the TDP, where only the top 12 participants have the chance to graduate.

“Graduating entails recording one of our original songs with a producer, then creating an album with the other graduates, and doing a big showcase in Sydney, which would be amazing,” she said.

Past graduates of the TDP include Human Nature, Angus and Julia Stone, The McClymonts, Brad Cox, Morgan Evans, and Paulini.