BEHIND THE SCENES: Warwick Tourism and Events CEO Tracy Vellacott, songstress Melissa Reid and St Mary’s music teacher Erin Hilton rehearse for tomorrow night’s event with their Daily News Carols Book.
BEHIND THE SCENES: Warwick Tourism and Events CEO Tracy Vellacott, songstress Melissa Reid and St Mary’s music teacher Erin Hilton rehearse for tomorrow night’s event with their Daily News Carols Book. Emma Boughen

The women behind the Christmas carols

THESE three women between them have more than half a century of Warwick Carols in the Park under their belts.

And each has come together from a different world.

Celebrating her 20th year on the Warwick Christmas Carols stage, Warwick songstress Melissa Reid (nee Williams) has come full circle.

She first took to the microphone in 1994 as a 17-year-old with a one-year-old baby in the wings. This year, her 21-year-old daughter Ebony will perform alongside her.

"It doesn't feel like 20 years... the time has passed so fast," she said.

Mrs Reid first started singing at the Warwick East Primary School choir but said it wasn't until her early teens that she realised she could actually "hold a tune".

"I've always loved music since I was a child, whether it was singing or playing an instrument music takes you to another place," she said.

"Being able to share your talent is special."

As a single mum she worked three jobs and took out a personal loan at 17 to work up enough money to buy some musical equipment before the Warwick Golf Club eventually gave her a break.

"I found something I could do as a side with a small child... I just bought some speakers and basic karaoke gear to get me through," she said. Growing up at her parents' egg farm Williams Eggs on the outskirts of Warwick oddly enough paved her way to the Warwick Christmas Carols stage.

"We used to deliver eggs to Peter Tanner's fruit shop, and because he ran the show at the time he asked me to come on board," she said.

"My first song was I Believe by Frank Sinatra... I just remember being excited to get up there and perform."

With her daughter Ebony, Mrs Reid will perform the traditional Christmas carol I'll be Home With Bells On, before Ebony goes solo with Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.

Just as Erin Hilton, a 1988 Golden Guitar award nominee, will perform with her own daughters Tegan and Keely.

Mrs Hilton's involvement in the carols started in 1991 when she came to Warwick with her newborn daughter Tegan from Melbourne after touring with Lee Kernaghan.

 

 

Since her arrival she's performed as part of the band Onyx, has a regular gig performing at the Warwick Coffee Club, teaches her singing group and is also a music and physical education teacher at St Mary's.

"The first performance was scary... this year my grandson will be helping out," she said.

"I also involve my singing group girls... as time has gone on many of them have gone on to perform solos... it's very exciting to see come through.

"Christmas is not Christmas unless you've done carols. This is a great family night, and the pizza at the end isn't bad either."

And last but certainly not least the Warwick born and bred Warwick Tourism and Events CEO Tracy Vellacott marks her 10th year at the helm.

Tracy picked up the job of organising the event in her role as communications officer with the council, and took it with her when she moved to her new position four years ago.

"Carols is my very favourite event to organise... everyone is so generous and talented," she said.

Even Mrs Vellacott's three sons are getting involved in the family atmosphere performing with her husband Phil on Sunday.

"We are so damn lucky to have new talent coming through as well as the more mature voices," she said.

The event will take place tomorrow at Leslie Park.

Santa will visit at 6pm, with the stage show beginning at 6.30pm tomorrow.



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