In January 2015, a Picton girl with a guitar was busking on the streets at Tamworth Country Music Festival, trying to spot the stars.
Jump forward to January 2017, and that same girl – Missy Lancaster – was one of the stars that street buskers were trying to spot.
Not that Missy will tell you that. The former Picton High student still has her humble feet planted very firmly on the ground.
But, to say Missy had a big 2016 is an understatement. She signed a contract with Sony, debuted at number three on the ARIA country charts, her single That’s What I’m Talking About was the second most-played song on Aussie country radio, she performed with Adam Harvey and Jessica Mauboy, and she pinches herself each day.
Call me a dag, but I love seeing nice people do well.
Many of us have watched Missy grow up. I can still remember her running up and down a hill in 2010, guitar in hand, for her first photo session. Others watched her first nervous performances at Picton Bowling Club, while sweaty charity walkers at the 24 Hour Fight Against Cancer might recall her belting out a tune for them.
“Grounded” is the word that kept popping into my head when I caught up over a coffee with the rising star – often described as Australia’s Taylor Swift – in her Wollondilly home town. She’s a bit older, her eyes more wide open perhaps, with a maturity that turns life stuff into lyrics. Part of that might be due to her supportive parents or everyday shire roots.
“The funny thing I’ve learned,” she told me, “is that the people who aren’t at the top but think they are, often treat other people badly…but the people who are at the top, like Adam Harvey, are the nicest people who would do anything to help you.”
Even when she’s had three hours sleep and isn’t feeling well, Missy remembers that lesson when she steps in front of a paying crowd of fans to give it all she’s got. “Their energy actually lifts me up,” she smiled. And, she’s still a daggy fan herself: she would LOVE to perform with Keith Urban.
Missy admits it all feels a bit surreal, particularly when her best friends grab her to dance to her own songs, or when fans at a concert sing aloud the words she penned strumming her guitar one day in a bedroom. “Insane.”
Missy pointed fondly to the Picton Bowling Club, and also the spot where she once made an Anzac Day speech as school captain. “I feel a bit sad when I come back home at the moment, because of the flood and what’s happened to the George IV…it’s so tough on our community, and how it effects everyone.”
When the Advertiser interviewed her in 2014, before her catapult to stardom, Missy said she might become a primary school teacher in Picton, the type who played a guitar to her students.
With her next EP due for release this year – with some beautiful songs – that teacher career now seems unlikey, but Missy still wants to help kids. She’s now involved in a program that will see her travel to Nepal and Ethiopia with a documentary crew and return to teach pupils, with the help of music, about young people overseas.
“It’s also teaching me a lot about myself,” she added.
Her latest single is Back Row (you can hear it here), and it seems to speak from the heart.
“I’m still the same girl I was five years,” she told me, “it’s about being in the back row, the magical feeling of not knowing what’s gonna happen next.”
Macarthur will also watch with interest, Missy.