[Interview] Lucy Sugerman & Canberra Youth Orchestra, Sat 29 Sep, Llewellyn Hall

 Photo by Chris Walsh

Words by John P Harvey

Lucy Sugerman will be the soloist, performing her own songs, in the Canberra Youth Orchestra’s third concert for 2018, at 7:30pm on Saturday 29 September, in the Canberra School of Music’s Llewellyn Hall, a concert that will also include soundtrack music from Star Wars and the Indiana Jones movies.

Lucy shared some background to the event with BMA contributor John P Harvey.

John Harvey (BMA): People may know you just from radio, as a skilled singer and songwriter. Obviously your career is near its beginning, though, and there’s a lot more going on in your life. How does music fit into the rest of life? And how does your family figure in your music life?

Lucy Sugerman (LS): That’s a fantastic question!

Obviously you can’t really predict the future but, short term, I have the typical artist dream: I’d love to be able to make albums, go on tours, all of that.

I guess what I’d like to do is make music a full-time career, whatever form of music that may be. When I say that’s what I want to do after school, people look at me as though I’m crazy. I realise it’s not the most stable career you can have, but it’s my passion and something I’ve been working towards for almost eight years now. And I figure life’s way too short to not do something that you love or that makes you happy.

Becoming a full-time artist and songwriter would be my ideal dream, but there’s also the music business, teaching, composing, sound engineering, live sound production, all that kind of stuff. But I hope I always get to songwrite; music is how I process the world around me, an emotional outlet, and songwriting happens differently every time, which is very exciting.

As for my family: they are so incredibly supportive. My parents are right behind me, they come to every gig and have been the most wonderful guidance in navigating the world and everything that comes with growing up [I can attest to that; Michael and Lynne Sugerman are an absolute delight to work with, and are clearly very proud parents – Bossman Allan]. My little sister definitely keeps me grounded, which I appreciate. She’s just the best.

BMA: When did you know you’d like to be serious about music?

LS: A lot of kids say they want to be singers when they grow up. I’d been saying that for ages since I first figured out what singing was.

But it was when I saw Taylor Swift as an 18-year-old girl being so successful: nine-year-old me figured out it was something I could actually pursue.

I feel like it became more serious in 2016, when I started getting more serious gigs, but it was definitely last year after The Voice that things started to take shape. The show was this whirlwind experience and in a way a crash course in the music industry, and afterwards I signed with a label, started to travel more for music. And this year I’ve been doing lots of co-writing sessions.

BMA: Co-writes? You were co-writing songs for yourself, or for others?

LS: Yes; my publisher has been putting together sessions with different producers and artists where we have written and created songs of all different styles! It’s been all about developing my sound.

BMA: The Voice. How did the opportunity arise?

LS: I always said I would never audition for a reality show. The Voice scouts its artists, and they called me and told me all about the audition process. So I just rocked up to the audition, not thinking I would get through, just to see what it was like. And kind of suddenly I was at the grand final. It was a crazy journey; I wouldn’t have had it happen any other way. I learned a lot.

BMA: What did you learn?

LS: I learned a lot about dealing with criticism, I learned how to connect with songs better, I learned a lot about the industry, and I also got better at speaking!

BMA: Did the show give you training in speaking?

LS: Not really; you just kinda picked it up through doing more interviews, meeting different people etc.

BMA: And what has The Voice led to?

LS: So many great gigs! I’ve gotten to travel a lot more for music and been given opportunities to perform at things such as Canberra Day in the Park, Citizenship ceremonies, and heaps more. One of the coolest opportunities that has come from The Voice has been the collaboration with Canberra Youth Orchestra.

[Conductor] Leonard Weiss and I have collaborated with orchestrating my songs for this concert — and Lenny has done the most wonderful job bringing my songs to life through his arrangements.

He and I met up over the common ground of both having been Canberra Young Citizen of the Year in Arts and Multimedia [which Weiss became in 2016, a year before Lucy did], and when a soloist with the Canberra Youth Orchestra had to cancel, Lenny got in touch, asking me if I’d like to do a concert with the CYO. Playing with an orchestra has been a bucket-list dream for me, so I am so excited about it. Rehearsals have been going well, the orchestra is full of Canberra’s finest young musicians, and we can’t wait to share this concert with everyone.

Lucy Sugerman and the Canberra Youth Orchestra with conductor Leonard “Lenny” Weiss perform on Saturday 29 September at 7:30pm in the Canberra School of Music’s Llewellyn Hall. For more information and tickets, head to https://musicforcanberra.org.au/event/canberra-youth-orchestra-concert-3-lucy-sugerman/

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