Caitlyn Shadbolt met Carrie Underwood during her time at the Academy.
Caitlyn Shadbolt met Carrie Underwood during her time at the Academy.

One of the chosen few

LOCAL country music starlet Caitlyn Shadbolt is taking major steps on her journey for musical excellence, with an invitation to the Country Music Association of Australia 2012 Junior Academy of Country Music.

This elite academy accepts 20 of Australia and New Zealand's finest young singers, songwriters and musicians to participate in an intensive training course at Tamworth.

The pocket rocket from Gympie took her mum Helen on the adventure, which provides tuition from industry professionals on everything from vocals, music theory, songwriting, performance, instrumental lessons, working with a band and business management.

This year's mentors were country music artists Amber Lawrence, Simon Johnson (producer and Troy Cassar-Daley's bass player) and Lee Bowman from Jetty Road.

Helen said parents were included in the week's itinerary with classes led by the legendary funny man Jim Haynes.

This year the academy sourced local businesses to sponsor students who did not receive a scholarship to attend the course.

Caitlyn's sponsor was major tourist attraction The Big Golden Guitar and she presented her sponsor with a certificate of appreciation during a visit to the tourist centre.

The course coincided with the start of an Australian tour by international country music artist Carrie Underwood and there was so much excitement when Caitlyn was selected as one of the three junior students to meet and greet with the star.

"I have had one of the best weeks of my life," Caitlyn said. "I met so many greatly talented people. The academy has changed me, I'm so inspired now.

"My mentor Lee Bowman was so amazing, seeing her so attached to our group was just amazing. This was really a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I will always remember."

The completion of the course consisted of a graduation performance by all of the students at a ticketed show at the West Leagues Diggers Club where their talents were on display for all to see.

Caitlyn performed her self-penned song, You Gotta Live with fellow students on backing vocals and a professional backing band. The video of this performance will be available on YouTube.

A jamming session during the week with up-and-coming young band, Brothers 3, also afforded Caitlyn the opportunity to play drums on the night which wowed the crowd.

The icing on the cake of this memorable and fun-filled week, was the organisation by Joan Douglas of The Pub Group and invitation by Catherine Britt for students to perform a 40-minute set at the beginning of her show on the Friday night. The involvement of Amber Lawrence in the co-ordination of this performance ensured a great crowd pleaser.

Caitlyn says she will now use the additional knowledge from this experience to prepare for her performance at the Gympie Music Muster Blues Bar on Friday, August 24. Caitlyn and her band Aiming High will take to the stage at 11.15am and on the spotlight stage on Saturday at 1pm.

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