Tilli McMahon 2018

Tilli McMahon. Photo: WinkiPoP Media

An Interview with Tilli McMahon


Tilli McMahon, winner of the 2018 Sydney Eisteddfod Junior Singer of the Year, reveals her all-time favourite song and the musical interests she is keen to pursue. 

What is your favourite song to perform and why?

This would have to be Eva Cassidy's version of "Over The Rainbow". I always feel happy when singing this song and if I am asked to sing a song for someone, I usually choose this song. It reminds me to keep working hard on my singing and as the lyrics say, "the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true". I hope they do for me one day.

Tell us a bit about the songs you performed in  the final.

The first song I will be performing is "Why Can't That Be Me" from Muriel's Wedding - The Musical. This song is about image expectations in society today and the challenges some people face when they feel they don't fit in and are left to feel inadequate. This is still a major issue today and needs to be addressed so hopefully songs like this can remind us all to accept people for who they are. No one is perfect and everyone has strengths and weaknesses.

The second song I have chosen for the final is "Summertime" in the style of Renee Olstead. This is a jazzy piece that slowly builds. "Summertime" was originally an operatic aria composed by George Gershwin in 1934. From the 1960's, the original has had a jazz & blues spin put on it by many artists like Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday. As I have recently been enjoying jazz music, I enjoy this style of the song.

How has your outlook as a singer changed over time? 

My outlook as a singer is always changing. As I am only 13 years old, I enjoy experiencing so many different styles and genres of music. This time last year I enjoyed more contemporary styles of music and this year I am enjoying jazz and blues. I want to keep my mind open to the different styles and there are so many more to try.

Do you have a role model in your music career and has this always been the same person?

I have many role models in music and I continue to add to that list as my voice develops and tries different styles. I have always admired Eva Cassidy, Adele and Amy Winehouse and more recently as a modern influence, Ruel. Ruel has achieved so much at such a young age and that encourages me to never doubt myself and to believe in the talent I have been given.

What are you hoping to achieve next? 

I will continue to build on my repertoire of songs and to experience different styles of music. I would also like to do some busking. I love any opportunity to sing for people and to see the smiles on their faces. I feel that busking is a different platform to perform and I hope that it will allow me to work on my performance skills in an environment that isn't being judged like it is at eisteddfods. I would also like to start song writing and use my ukulele or piano to accompany those songs.

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