Bulli busker saves up to buy pony

Blonde, big-hatted and nine years old, Shalani Thomas made a killing in Tamworth last month.She would park herself at the town’s designated street performance spots for up to two hours, sometimes pocketing $10 or $20 notes from passers-by who stopped by the spectacle of such a young girl singing and playing guitar. The Bulli busking whiz walked away from the Tamworth Country Music Festival $900 richer, with personal mementoes from stars Troy Cassar-Daley and Kasey Chambers.She is saving her riches to purchase a pony.Her zest for performing has surprised her non-musical parents and given them new joy after the death in 2001 of their first baby girl.Shalani has been singing since she was two years old. In the past 18 months she has been taking guitar lessons and working with music teacher Jodi Phillis on her singing technique.She has written two of her own songs and performed them on the busking trail along with tunes by Kasey Chambers, Dixie Chicks, Miley Cyrus and UK pop singer Adele.‘‘People seemed to like my songs,’’ Shalani said.‘‘One is about my puppy, Nala, and one is about my favourite thing - sleeping.’’ Parents Siria and Malcolm gave Shalani the middle name Hope in memory of her sister Skyia, who died during a high-profile birthing bungle at Wollongong Hospital in June 2001.In 2002 a coroner found that Dr Safwat ElSanady contributed to Skyia’s death after he spent 45 minutes trying to deliver her by vacuum extraction.‘‘Shalani has definitely brought the hope and joy back into our lives, along with her sister [Kasahni, 6],’’ Mrs Thomas said. Shalani’s takings from Tamworth included the $100 runner-up prize from a talent quest where she performed her parents’ wedding song, Kasey Chambers’ Flower. She will next perform at Thirroul’s Seaside Arts Festival.

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