Clara's songs wow quest judges

Last updated 11:40 04/07/2011

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Clara van Wel continued to build her musical accomplishments at the weekend, wowing judges with two of her own songs to win another title.

The 13-year-old Marlborough Girls' College student took first place at the 2011 Marlborough Smokefreerockquest in Blenheim on Saturday night, over eight other acts. It is less than a month since she won the Stars in Your Eyes talent show.

About 100 teenagers and parents turned out for the event at the Convention Centre to hear the nine acts from Marlborough Boys' College, Marlborough Girls' College and Queen Charlotte College.

But it was Clara who stood out and she believes her unique song choices won on the day.

"I love writing songs and performing them – I just love being on stage," she said after her win.

"The funny thing is both of the songs are about love, but I have never been in love, so I guess the lyrics are words that people can really connect to and it could relate to what's happening in their lives."

Clara performed Closer and Living a Life – one a jazzy number and the other with more of an up-beat country feel.

As well as taking out the No1 spot ahead of Down to Funk, a band made up of students from Marlborough Boys' and Queen Charlotte colleges, and the Blenheim duo called Havic, Clara was awarded the Smokefree award for women's musicianship.

"To be honest I didn't expect to do so well," she said.

"My songs weren't rocky at all, but I guess they showed versatility.

"I can't wait to compete further, I have a bit of work to do on perfecting my rhythm, so it's back to practice."

Clara was given a guitar when she was very small and has been strumming ever since.

She draws inspiration from Kiwi artists Hayley Westenra and Bic Runga and is hoping to make music a big part of her life, maybe emulating their success one day.

Clara and Down to Funk (Chris Swan, Thornton Church, Corban Church and Robert Riach) will send a DVD of their performances off to be to be judged for one of six spots in the national rockquest final on September 17. The finalists will be announced next month.

Rockquest founder and director Glenn Common said the Blenheim event had been a success and he hoped to bring it back next year.

"I was blown away with the quality – for me it was great to hear the diverse range of genres being showcased.

"It is a trend we see happening all around the country and it can only be good for the future of the industry."

Results: Clara Van Wel 1; Down to Funk (Chris Swan, Thornton Church, Corban Church and Robert Riach) 2; Havic (Vicky Mack and Hadley Anderson) 3; People's choice, Lee Stuart; Mainz musicianship, Chris Swan; women's, Clara van Wel.


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- The Marlborough Express


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