Future in music beckons

Mosgiel musician Renee O'Brien is fundraising to travel to the World Championships of Performing Arts to be held later this year. Photo by Joshua Riddiford.
Mosgiel musician Renee O'Brien is fundraising to travel to the World Championships of Performing Arts to be held later this year. Photo by Joshua Riddiford.
A Mosgiel teenager hopes to perform in Hollywood later this year.

Renee O'Brien (18) is an acoustic guitarist and singer scouted for the New Zealand ''Black Stars'' to compete in the 2017 World Championships of Performing Arts (WCOPA) from June 30 to July 9.

The competition attracts dancers, singers, actors, musicians, and models from 55 countries around the world.

There is a catch.

O'Brien needs to raise $6500 to make it to the competition.

Towards that goal she has been performing regular gigs at The Bog hotel on George St in Dunedin and is holding a fundraising concert at the Taieri Bowling Club on February 5.

Asked about her fundraising efforts, O'Brien said it was ''working out so far''.

Opportunities such as the possibility of record deals and scholarships to performing art schools in the United States had motivated her to audition for the Black Stars.

Although she has entered ''heaps'' of competitions around New Zealand, the WCOPA would be her first competition outside the country.

This year will be the 22nd WCOPA and the 11th time a New Zealand contingent has competed in the annual event, New Zealand national director for WCOPA Dina Janse van Rensburg said.

There are 28 confirmed performers from New Zealand, so far.

O'Brien started singing and playing the guitar as an 8-year-old. She was influenced by musical family members.

''I have family members who are real good musicians and good on guitar so I always thought it would be awesome to be like them.''

She takes further inspiration from performers such as Australian singer-songwriter Matt Corby, English performer James Bay and American country singer Dolly Parton.

She hopes to make a career in music because ''I just love it''.

Renee O'Brien will perform at the Taieri Bowling Club at 12 Wickliffe St on February 5 from 1.30pm. Other performers include Andy Gilmour and Catherine Short, Teisha Seymour, Madeleine Homan and Renee's younger sister Aliyah O'Brien, aged 11.

joshua.riddiford@thestar.co.nz

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