YOUNG SONGWRITER SCOOPS DAREBIN MUSIC AWARD

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by Suzi Owen

 

Fifteen year old musician Mabel Windred-Wornes wasn’t even born when the Darebin Music Feast held it’s inaugural festival back in 1996. Now this self-confessed Shakespeare nerd is this years recipient of its coveted Songwriters’ Award.

 

One half of Charm of Finches – a sweet, sorrowful and folksy duo completed by her younger sister Ivy (yes, younger sister) – Mabel’s song-writing chops beat out north side songsters like the sassy Mojo Juju, the beautifully haunting Lisa Salvo and the rustic ‘n’ soulful Tully Sumner.

 

To win a song-writing competition in Melbourne is no mean feat, but Darebin specifically – a municipality home to more singers, songwriters, performers and artists than perhaps any other municipality in the country, well let’s just say it garners as much kudos as a Wimmera/Mallee baking competition.

 

To equate Mabel’s youth or her demure disposition with a lack of accolades or stage time would be a mental misstep.”

 

“It was pretty crazy, cause I was the youngest. It was pretty scary,” says the charmingly modest teen as she sneaked another sip of her soy chai (dairy and ‘fizzy drinks’ are no good for vocal health).

 

But to equate Mabel’s youth or her demure disposition with a lack of accolades or stage time would be a mental misstep, this is simply her and her sister Ivy’s nature – they are seasoned performers.

 

“We used to busk,” says Mabel- “when we were younger,” chimes in 12-year-old Ivy. “We started off as a trio called The Highway Sisters with one of our friends, Belle, doing three-part- harmonies and stuff ” adds Mabel. When the trio later become a duo, the sisters began singing “the whole catalogue of First Aid Kit songs.”

 

 I’m often really busy with homework and stuff but I still find the time to write songs. That’s what I love.”

 

“Being young really helps,” Mabel admits of their busking days on Station Street in Fairfield, but being a little bud doesn’t mean your fingers aren’t full of callouses and your diary’s not full of gigs. Reeling off the cavalcade of festivals, venues, fairs and fates Charm of Finches have played is like singing the lyrics to I’ve Been Everywhere Man. They’ve been to (deep breath in) Portarlington, Maldon, Queenscliff, Ballarat, Cygnet, Yackandandah, Newstead, Murwillumbah, Surrey Hills, Bendigo, Fleurieu….. and so on and so on.

 

“It’s pretty hard sometimes with school,” Mabel concedes. “I’m often really busy with homework and stuff but I still find the time to write songs. That’s what I love,” she says, in a deeper voice, after a thoughtful, daydreamy pause. And love it she does, soon set to complete her secondary studies at the Northern College of the Art and Technology, Preston. “I’m interested in producing and stuff, I’m hoping to go in that direction as well as performing.”

 

It’s not just your average festival goer who’s been charmed by these songbirds. Mabel and Ivy have rubbed shoulders with muso matriarchs like Clare Bowditch, Adalita, Kasey Chambers and Liz Stringer. Releasing their first EP, Home, last year – Home, Tears and Way Back Down The Track are the stand-outs – the girls are currently harvesting songs for their debut album, which will be emerging mid 2016 coupled with a performance inside the lush, playful opulence of Docklands Wonderland Spiegeltent.

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