Looking back at 2020: from Glen Innes to European songwriting success for Sarah Bird

For a singer-songwriter from a small country town, Sarah Bird has already gone a long way.

Four years after leaving home, the talented musician is in Europe and won the 2020 European songwriting award in the singer-songwriter category.

Since growing up and playing music in Glen Innes, in northern NSW, Sarah has taken her passion for music and continued to pursue her dreams.

After leaving her hometown in 2016 Sarah found herself at the Cambridge Folk Festival with a one-man tent and her guitar.

"Music is what I am passionate about and it's great that it's something I'm able to do," Sarah told her hometown newspaper the Glen Innes Examiner.

Soon after playing a string of street performances across Europe and the UK she spent two years in London before taking her music to Berlin. Sarah said the culture of Berlin and the street art culture was one of the many things that captivated her.

"The culture of music in Berlin is incredible, I feel so grateful to have found a great community here," she said.

Unfortunately due to COVID-19 there was no official award ceremony this year. Instead the award winners were all announced via an online video presentation.

"It would be great if I actually receive a physical award but I am unsure at this stage if there will be a ceremony at all which is a real shame," she said.

The 2020 songwriting award will increase the exposure of Sarah's music with distribution, promotion and radio play as a focus.

"When restrictions ease up they plan to set up some live streaming and live performance opportunities, and some co-writing sessions will be set up with some other great songwriters in Germany as well.

"At this stage, everything is on hold with the current pandemic but I hope that things can start moving again soon," she said.

Sarah was thrilled to have won the award after being named as a top five finalist in the 2019 German songwriting awards.

"It was such an amazing surreal feeling watching the virtual ceremony from my phone, even though its not the glamorous way I would have loved to receive it.

"It was amazing to share the positive news that something I recorded had won during these challenging times.

"I won the European songwriting award with a song I recorded during lockdown, and working out of my home studio," she said.

Sarah said she is grateful to have found her start in Glen Innes where she said she was driven to dream big, and have the community dreaming along with her.

"I was lucky to have the never-ending support of family and friends. I will be forever grateful to my guitar teacher Ian Willington. Without him I don't know if I ever would have had the courage to pursue my dreams, and he provided me with every opportunity to perform in front of a live audience with monthly jam sessions."

Sarah said her hometown community - about an hour south of the Queenland border on the New England Highway - supported her by selling her CDs, putting up posters and encouraging her after she recorded her first original six-track EP as a 15-year-old.

"I will never forget my EP launch at the Glen Innes RSL. It honestly felt like the whole town was there.

"I'm proud to have come from a small town with such a creative and supportive community. Glen Innes was the perfect place to begin. It gave me that foundation of support that I needed to believe in myself."

After winning her first National Musicoz award at the age of 17 Sarah realised her passion for music is something she wanted to commit to. Musicoz provided her with the opportunity to work with producer, Garth Porter from 70s band Sherbert . Her song from that next EP with Garth won her a second Musicoz award.

"Those kind of moments made me realise music is something that I wanted to do and take seriously," she said.

"I think when you have a big dream in a small town you have everyone wanting you to succeed.

"I am very glad to have grown up in a place like Glen Innes."

Glen Innes Examiner Journalist Hannah Frost.

Glen Innes Examiner Journalist Hannah Frost.

Glenn Innes Examiner reporter Hannah Frost

Sarah Bird has achieved incredible heights with her singing and songwriting career in her life. Her persistence and dedication to following her dreams is motivational for all of those who want to dream big when they are from a small town. Sarah's story isn't over yet and I cant wait to see what comes next for the former small town girl.