Michelle Obama sends Griffith student global

Queensland Conservatorium pop music student Cat Gallagher got a taste of global stardom when one of her songs was picked up by former First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama as part of her annual College Sign Up Day campaign.

Penned as part of an online collaborative project between music students from the Queensland Conservatorium and Vanderbilt College in the US, the song was featured on Mrs Obama’s social platforms to mark National College Signing Day earlier this year.

Mrs Obama’s social accounts have more than 80 million followers, giving the young songwriter a remarkable platform for her work.

“I got a call out of the blue, and just couldn’t believe it,” she said.

“This song is very close to my heart, so to be able to share it with the world is incredible.

“This is a massive opportunity for me to reach out to a global audience and expand my musical community.”

During COVID lockdowns last year, a number of Queensland Conservatorium popular music students collaborated with their peers across the globe, creating new music with singer-songwriters at the Vanderbilt College Blair School of Music in Nashville.

Third-year Bachelor of Music student Cat Gallagher co-wrote a soaring gospel and soul infused song about overcoming struggle and heartbreak – a message that might resonate with millions of people around the globe who had their lives upended by COVID.

“Her Troubles, His Pain” was a joint effort between Cat and Cam Robinson, a human resources and organizational development major at Vanderbilt College. The track was mixed by fellow popular music student Liam Brimble.

“We both love gospel and soul music, so straight away we had that connection,” she said.

“It was a great chance to learn from each other, and I think we came up with something really special.”

Cat Gallagher and Cam Robinson

The Honours College student said creating original songs during pandemic was a chance to put into practice the songwriting and studio skills taught in the popular music course.

“For me, it was a great chance to take what we’ve been learning over the past couple of years, and take it for a test drive,” she said.

“I’ve never collaborated online before, and we were on different time zones, from completely different worlds, writing to pretty intense deadlines, but music was always the middle ground.”

Popular Music lecturer Caleb James said the cross-continental opportunity had exceeded all expectations.

“It was supposed to happen in-person, with a contingent of our students heading to Nashville,” he said.

“When COVID hit, we had to move it online, but despite the challenges, we couldn’t be prouder of the results.

“The whole of the Con is built on musical collaboration, because that’s how the industry works.

“We have been blown away by the success of this first collaboration and are planning for this to become an annual project.”

Applications for study at the Queensland Conservatorium are now open, see griffith.edu.au/conservatorium-auditions for more information.

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