Seventeen year-old Imogen Hall sung before she could talk and the Muswellbrook teenager received her first guitar at the age of three and never put it down.
"We all knew she had confidence, timing and rhythm, but she was so little, we didn't think much of it,' said mum, Amanda.
"It wasn't until one day when her preschool teacher pulled me aside and said, 'I don't normally tell parents what they should do with their children but please put her in singing lessons - she is just amazing and shows huge potential."
So given that advice the 5-year-old Imogen began classical singing lessons with a local teacher who enrolled her in a number of eisteddfods, and she also attended the Upper Hunter Conservatorium of Music before a chance meeting with a country music star set her on a different path.
"Golden Guitarist, Amber Lawrence, attended Imogen's primary school when she was in Year Five and that was it - Imogen has been hooked on country music ever since," said Amanda.
Imogen soon began guitar lessons and wrote her first real song 'Sweet Angel' aged just 13. It wasn't long before she was performing it and, a swag of her favourite covers, as a busker at the one and only place for any young aspiring country music star - The Tamworth Country Music Festival.
"Imogen really found a place of belonging and self-discovery at the festival. It provides such a wonderful, fun environment to learn her craft while meeting up with old and new friends, catching up with mentors and inspiring her dreams, it's her home away from home," said Amanda.
In 2021, Imogen attended The Academy of Country Music (CMAA) where she was mentored by country artists such as Lyn Bowtell, Roger Corbett, Ashleigh Dallas and Jayne Denham.
Since then, she has also opened shows for the likes of Amber Lawrence, Catharine Britt, Matt Scullion, Jake Davey and Chelsea Berman.
However, Imogen's country music dreams have been on hold recently as she comes to terms with losing her Dad to pancreatic cancer following many years spent battling alcoholism and mental health issues.
But in good news for Imogen and her family and for country music enthusiasts the announcement last week that she is one of this year's Variety Heart Scholarship recipients her music career could well be back on track.
Variety - the Children's Charity NSW/ACT has awarded $294,000 in scholarships enabling 63 children across NSW and the ACT to pursue their sporting and artistic dreams. Variety Heart Scholarships support young people with an existing talent who are sick, experiencing disadvantage or living with a disability.
"Song writing is the biggest form of therapy for me, I enjoy writing my life experiences or from what I see others going through being good bad and ugly," Imogen said.
"Once school is finished, I'm looking forward to building my song writing skills maybe even look into doing some co-writes. As for singing it's just what I do it's always just been who I am and I enjoy how it makes me feel and the people around me.
"I'm very grateful to receive a Variety Heart Scholarship it means I will be able to return to guitar lessons to build my skills set further and hope to use the remaining funds to travel to variety events to share my love of music with others."
Amanda explains that Imogen's Variety Heart Scholarship has given her the boost she needed to pick up her guitar again.
"This tremendous scholarship from Variety has got Imogen thinking about her music again, while also providing the financial support we need to cover the cost of lessons and booking live gigs,' she said.
"It's lovely to see Imogen starting to write music again and finding her drive to keep gigging and performing in front of live audiences."
"Imogen really hopes to have the opportunity to give back to Variety as she would love nothing more than to help put smiles on the faces of others. We are not the first to go through grief and won't be the last and we are big believers that people need people to heal, no matter the journey."
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