Claire Anne Taylor

Part of the 'Harmonies of the Huon' Series

Claire Anne grew up in Milabena, a rural locality near Wynyard on the edge of the Tarkine region in north-west Tasmania. Her home was a beautiful barn-style home on a 50-acre property with rainforest as the backyard.

Along with her five creative and imaginative siblings, Claire Anne was always encouraged to follow her musical passions.

‘Mum was always singing, her voice was a constant background soundtrack to my childhood,’ she remembers. ‘Dad was a guitarist, singer and songwriter. Neighbours would visit for jam sessions.’

But with few musical role models on the northwest coast, Claire Anne was wary about following music as a career. Instead, she completed a degree at the University of Sydney in international and global studies, specialising in anthropology.

As a reward for completing her degree she went to the Byron Bay Blues Festival to see some of her heroes, Robert Plant, Paul Simon and Rodriguez.

‘My friend suggested I enter the Byron Bay busking competition,’ Claire Anne recalls. ‘Out of eighty finalists, I won! I was completely shocked – they told me I looked like a stunned mullet when my name was announced! I got to perform on the big festival stage and was offered some recording opportunities, so I moved to Byron Bay and forged a loose musical career and then went touring. Three years later I moved back to Tassie because I felt that home was calling.’

Claire Anne travels a lot for her music but her base is in the Huon Valley.

‘I constantly draw inspiration from the local environment,’ she says. ‘Near my back door is a gorgeous creek that runs through the bush block. A lot of my lyrics are influenced by nature.’

Claire Anne crafts soulful folk songs.

‘With a young son, it can be difficult to find my creative space, to find time alone to get absorbed into the sound of an instrument,’ she says.

Claire Anne has just launched her third album Giving It Away, which was recorded at MONA’s Frying Pan studios. She received funding from an Arts Tasmania grant. I catch her performing songs from the album at a packed crowd at the Cygnet Folk Festival.

She is excited about the new music, which she feels is a step above her previous work. There’s a documentary about the making of the album and a launch at the Theatre Royal in Hobart, because she loves the grandeur of the space and the connection to her audience.

‘Doors are opening for me and I’m getting close to making a living from music,’ she says. ‘This year I’m taking the band and family on the road for a 35-date national tour that includes many music festivals.’

ABC Radio’s Joel Rheinberger describes Claire Anne Taylor as ‘the voice of Tasmania’, while a music writer from the Sydney Morning Herald summed up the special character of her vocal delivery by describing her voice as ‘husky, smoky, velvety and barbed – it’s an instrument in itself and it commands your attention’.

Harmonies of the Huon: Exploring the melodies and musings of Huon Valley artists‘ is a Creative Huon series in collaboration with Huon Valley Council and Huon Valley Tas, showcasing the Huon Valley’s musical talents, their inspiration and journeys.

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