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Te Uku schoolgirl’s got ‘rare’ talent

Twelve-year-old Te Uku schoolgirl Amelia Penfold looks set to make it in the music world, if her recent success at recording and performing her own song is anything to go by.

Not only did she win first place at her school’s X Factor — or Te Uku’s Got Talent — competition with her original composition ‘Falling’ but she’s also got it on Raglan Radio’s playlist, with a plan now to get a copy to Tractor FM.

And her guitar teacher, longtime local musician Dave Maybee, reckons Amelia has a “rare talent” that can take her far.

Dave, who for years has worked with singer-songwriters at St Peter’s School in Cambridge, likens her talent to that of Raglan songbird Anna Coddington, now successfully touring and putting out albums.

“Amelia has the same drive at a young age as Anna had,” he says, “She can naturally combine all the elements of songwriting and performance.”
Like Anna, he adds, she has a great voice, the ability to write a catchy lyric and a whole song that makes sense.

Dave was impressed with his young protégé when she first asked for help in playing guitar parts to accompany the song she was to enter in the school talent quest. “Dave helped me figure out some chords … and he helped me work through it and tidy it up,” says Amelia.

It was her teacher Lee Clarkson who suggested she record the finished song. Dave agreed. And so it was that during a recent Monday night guitar lesson ‘Falling’ was professionally recorded in Dave’s recording studio, Karioi Sounds.

So how long has Amelia been interested in music? “Forever,” she says. And “always writing”, she adds, including poetry.

“When someone is well versed in writing as a mode of expression — be it poetry or prose — then that is by far the biggest step (towards making music),” says Dave, “because you have a feel, rhythmically, for how songs can go.”

And the songwriting process for Amelia? “It’s usually about what’s happening around me at the time, and the feelings that go with it,” she says. Then come the melody and the words, she adds.

Dave reckons Amelia has at least one more song he’s heard that’s as “catchy” as ‘Falling’, and while Amelia laments not having finished it yet Dave’s convinced it’ll be ready for her next big performance — Christmas in the Park at Kopua Domain.

Edith Symes

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