Tour Diary: Telstra Road To Discovery winner Merpire heads to Nashville for AmericanaFest

Merpire is the conceptualisation of Sydney singer/song-writer Rhiannon Atkinson Howatt, who takes the typical mood of the ukulele, and warps it into new uncharted sounds. After winning the Telstra Road To Discovery in 2015, Merpire was awarded a trip to music capital of the USA, Nashville as part of her prize package, to play at the prestigious Americana Music Festival. She brings us back some of her journey:

I felt so honoured to have been chosen to represent emerging Australian artists by playing the Sounds Australia showcases at the festival. Playing at the iconic Bluebird Café was exciting and I found it truly heart-warming to play for and be welcomed by a city of people so dedicated and supportive of live music.

Performing at The Bluebird Café – an absolute honour

Nashville also provided me with other opportunities such as co-writing with Nashville resident and well-respected singer songwriter Kim Richey, and a recording session with music wizard Neilson Hubbard and his talented studio musicians. The recording experience was nothing short of magic. It all came together so quickly and easily. My time there blew me away.

In the studio for an incredible day recording with Neilson Hubbard and his go-to genius musicians
Ahead of co-writing with Nashville gem and song-writing extraordinaire, Kim Richey

I continued my travels to New York, where I played at the renowned venue The Bitter End, which has played host to artists such as Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder and Norah Jones to name a few. Whilst exploring the untamed, multi-sensory city of New York, I heard music coming from people who really pushed their own boundaries as well as the listener, which made me less afraid of pushing my own music boundaries and has in turn inspired me to explore further out as well as within.

Here is some video capturing the first snippets of my Nashville trip:

I’ll be posting more videos soon! Keep an eye on my Facebook page for that. I’ve hit the ground running upon my return to Australia, and I’m set to release a single from her upcoming EP early November. Having been bunkered down writing pre-USA trip and working with a well-known Australian producer, there is some very exciting things to come in the last quarter of 2016, and it won’t stop there!

For more from Merpire, head to her official website.


This content has recently been ported from its original home on The AU Review: Music and may have formatting errors – images may not be showing up, or duplicated, and galleries may not be working. We are slowly fixing these issue. If you spot any major malfunctions making it impossible to read the content, however, please let us know at editor AT

Larry Heath

Founding Editor and Publisher of the AU review. Currently based in Toronto, Canada. You can follow him on Twitter @larry_heath or on Instagram @larryheath.