'I can honestly say that was the worst year of my life'
WHEN Jade Holland saw the devastation the floods had on her hometown of Townsville, there was one way she felt she could contribute.
The country singer-songwriter had moved to Newcastle to pursue her music ambitions, and when news broke of the disaster she was compelled to lend a helping hand. It was the catalyst for her fundraising song Lives on the Lawn.
The town has long held a special place in her heart, and she wanted to give back in the best way she knew how.
"It happened really fast and that was something I rallied behind to make sure it got out in time," Ms Holland said.
"We probably wrote it in about two hours and it was the easiest song to write because there was so much content to write and so many stories about it. However it was also the most emotionally hard song to write.
"We were all in tears in the middle of writing."
Ms Holland will soon embark on her Bon Voyage tour; stopping at Mt Pleasant Tavern on June 6. She will then head for Nashville in the United States to begin work on her third studio album.
It has been a roller-coaster career for the musician - from being jibed by her mum that she originally could not sing to opening for Rob Thomas in Townsville. But to reach these lofty heights, she has dealt with her fair share of heartache.
After she signed a record deal with a label in the UK, Ms Holland geared up for the career she had dreamed of. As it turned out, the deal was fraudulent, and the fallout caused her to quit music for a year.
"I can honestly say that was the worst year of my life, not picking up the guitar or singing a tune everyday or listening to music," Ms Holland said.
"That was the defining moment. I finally got the courage to get back on stage on New Year's Eve when I was 22 ... I got up and sang with everything I had and that was me going 'yep this is my career, my life - everything."
Ms Holland's performance in Mackay will cover tracks from both of her albums, as well as a host of her favourite covers.
While excited for the tour ahead, she is eager to get into the studio and put pen to paper for her third album.
Ms Holland said her life experiences and those of others inspired her tracks, and she implored other aspiring artists to draw on those emotions in their pursuits.
"As musicians when we do this full time ... we get lost in the industry and we forget to live our life," she said.
"I think songwriting is very crucial and living your life is very crucial to the songwriting. If we're working every weekend, if we don't get to get out there and smell the roses and live a little, then we don't really have a lot to write about.
"We can all come up with a concept that might be make believe and put it into words, but I feel like if it's something you've experienced and comes from the heart you can tell it's much more personal."
A stand out which hits home for the North Queensland musician comes from her Dream Wild album. A song called Jack.
"Originally it was meant to be a fun loving, happy go lucky drinking song - I'm a bit of a Jack Daniels fan myself," Ms Holland said.
"My songwriters, friends and I started to talk ... one of them had just lost their nan and I had lost my nan earlier that year ... to her third round of breast cancer.
"Then we started talking about movies and when people lose someone in the cinema the stereotypical thing is you go to a bar and drink your blues away.
"(The song became) about where we go to grieve. The major line in the chorus is 'there's no Jack in this bar', so that thing you're looking for to get over your grieving period you won't find at the bar."
Tickets for the show are at liveatyourlocal.oztix.com.au.