Christie Lamb’s Music Journey
A path to country music stardom
Sydney country music star Christie Lamb released her debut EP in 2011. Since then, she has had two full-length albums reach #2 on the ARIA Country Albums Chart, won a “Golden Guitar,” and been voted “CMC Female Artist of the Year 2018”. Lamb talked to Yamaha about her journey so far.
When did your musical journey begin?
My musical story starts here, in Australia, at six years old. I had just moved over from England and I attended a primary school with performing arts classes — which I had never heard of before, but I really enjoyed. I was quite a shy person in a new school (and country), but being around other kids who loved performing and being on stage like I did, really brought out my confidence. My parents took me to many after school activities, but I soon found the ones I enjoyed all involved music.
When did you first pick up an instrument?
Before the age of 10 I had picked up a flute. Besides playing in my primary school band, a friend and I joined Camden and Campbelltown musical ensembles. I started singing shortly after that, and playing piano. I studied AMEB piano, voice and musicianship exams too. By 14 I had started writing songs and picked up guitar. I then went on to play the mandolin, as my career aspirations were moving more towards country music.
How did you juggle learning instruments and academic learning?
The high school I attended was a performing arts high school. I had always done really well at school, academically, but I found that just about all of my advanced maths classmates were also in my music class. My maths teacher had taught many advanced maths classes over the years and she had noticed that there was a trend between musicians and advanced maths. She thought that being able to read music, count and divide beats into bars from a younger age made maths come more naturally to musicians.
How did your music teachers help shape your journey?
An important feature [in someone’s music journey] is the music teacher you find and choose to help you learn. Obviously a talented and dedicated musician is required, plus someone who has patience and a belief in you as a student. I had an amazing piano teacher who set me homework, was kind, patient, and always went the extra mile to help.
For example, when I reached my Grade 5 AMEB piano exam, I had to perform the exam on a grand piano for the first time. Until then I had never played a grand piano, and I didn’t want the exam day to be my first time playing one. The music stand that your sheet music sits on is higher on a grand piano than on an upright piano, which made me nervous at the time.
At home I had an upright piano, so I didn’t have any way to practise the page turning at the height it was on a grand piano. My teacher arranged multiple practice times for me on a grand piano at his church before my exam, so I would feel at ease and prepared before the day. Being prepared for exams and advancing your music skills in general takes a lot of qualified help and the right teacher is invaluable.
How did this help with your later studies?
All the prior piano and musicianship exams I had completed outside of school through my piano teacher really helped when it came to the theory side of my HSC (Higher School Certificate). People in my HSC class underestimated me and would make comments like: “She’s a country singer, she only knows three chords.” I think quite a few of them were shocked when I got 100 per cent for my HSC performance and was one of two vocalists to perform at the Opera House encore of HSC. With an overall score of 99 per cent (Band 6) and a Certificate of Academic Excellence for the music HSC, I was offered two different university scholarships.
I went on to complete a Bachelor of Music at the University of Western Sydney under a full scholarship. The fact my degree was paid for allowed me to invest in an independent music career.
How did you build a career in the music industry?
Whilst at university, I started to record some of the songs I had written and released an EP in my first year. I released two of the songs as singles with video clips to Country Music Radio and CMC (Country Music Channel — Foxtel). Both songs made top five on radio and I went on to win a few new talent awards.
One of the guys I co-wrote with for my EP was related to actor and singer Jon English and recommended me to be a part of his 55-date national tour during my third year of university. It was quite a struggle to make all the classes, assessments and travel all over Australia with the tour. With a lot of organisation I managed to do it all and get material ready for my debut album.
What has your journey been since then?
I recorded my debut album and it went to #2 on the ARIA charts and spurned five radio singles. I also won some amazing awards, the first being a fan voted award: “CMC Best New Talent 2015”. I went on to win a Golden Guitar for “Best New Talent” in 2016, and signed with ABC Music label. In 2018 I was lucky enough to be voted CMC “Female Artist of the Year” against some female industry heavy weights including Kasey Chambers and Amber Lawrence.
I have toured with Jon English, Amber Lawrence, Adam Brand and The Wolfe Brothers. I have also been on the road as an opening act and musician (playing piano and mandolin) for Lee Kernaghan for three years. A couple of years ago I performed a duet with one of my musical heroes, Keith Urban, at the Deni Ute Muster in front of thousands.
What does the future hold for you?
I am currently working on the release of my third album, and planning more trips to Nashville as well as touring for next year. I am constantly performing and writing to hone my craft as a musician and performer. Without a great foundation and teachers in my early years, I wouldn’t have been able to achieve the results I have and get to where I am today.