Classical Charlotte's unlikely music heroes

Freddie Mercury and Andrew Lloyd Webber are the reason 19-year-old Charlotte Rhiane began her classical music singing career.

When her parents encouraged her to take classical training at 14, she thought it was "too lame" - right until her father said, "you know, Freddie Mercury from Queen did classical training?".

Then when Charlotte wanted to perform Webber's Phantom of the Opera hit Think of Me at an Eisteddford that year, she was convinced.

"Although it took me a long time to accept I was actually good at classical music, I do like the challenge," she says.

"Before that I was doing Whitney Houston and Beyonce and lots of power ballads.

"But I got bored with them, because they started to become easy."

The ambitious teenager says she has little patience, so performing a mix of classical opera, musical theatre and pop songs keeps her entertained.

Last year, she performed at the Henry Roth Bridal Exhibition in Wollongong's Novotel, she sang the national anthem at Hyde Park's Australia Day Citizenship Ceremony, and was a featured artist for the Wollongong Hawks' basketball games at the Wollongong Entertainment Centre.

In addition to performances, the Wollongong-born teen has released one EP and is about to add another to her list next month - this time with original music.

The self-titled EP consists of four songs she co-wrote with Leon Burger from Oxygen Music, and a cover of The Prayer.

"Recording my first originals was terrifying, it was well out of my comfort zone," she says.

"I hadn't written songs before, I was nervous and that doesn't happen very often, so it wasn't a nice feeling."

Her training at the Talent Development Project, a program for extraordinary talent unearthed at the annual Schools Spectacular, gave Charlotte a way into the notoriously tough music industry.

Through the program she met musical theatre performer Peter Cousens, pop star and actor Marty Rhone, pop/soul singer Mark Williams, each imparting their wisdom and criticisms to her.

Former federal arts and sports minister John Brown has awarded her two scholarships, each worth $6000, to aid her singing career and pay for lessons.

But even with all her success, Charlotte is keeping up her studies in case she needs to fall back on teaching. She is studying a bachelor of music and classical performance in case she doesn't become rich and famous.

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