Cassidy-Rae Wilson could sing before she could talk.
As a toddler moved by the rhythm of The Wiggles, Cassidy-Rae would “sing instead of talk”, her mother Raeleen is proud to say.
So it is hardly surprising to her family or anyone who knew her then that the 20-year-old is fast becoming known as a soulful singer-songwriter beyond her Sydney Hills district base. Already building a strong following on YouTube and iTunes, Cassidy-Rae’s country pop songs are being played on radio stations across Australia as well as in the USA.
The song that caught everyone’s attention — Be Strong — is an anti-bullying anthem, and its success led to Cassidy-Rae’s becoming an ambassador for Chloe’s Voice, an anti-bullying campaign named after a Tasmanian teenager who took her own life after years of relentless taunting.
Cassidy-Rae said she understood the damage bullying could cause, and was herself the subject of it growing up, which is why she wants to give young people confidence to battle the tough times.
Having travelled the world and performed for the Pope, Barack Obama, Ellen Degeneres and Oprah Winfrey as a member of the Australian Girls Choir, Cassidy-Rae understands the power of song and being part of a group that spreads happiness.
Last year, Cassidy-Rae was so keen to spread the joy of singing that she started the Sydney Hills Youth Choir, for boys and girls aged eight to 18.
“It is free to join, and gives young people the chance to feel good about themselves and to enjoy singing in front of people,” Cassidy-Rae said. “The choir performs regularly at Hills events. I also want to give talented singers the chance to sing the national anthem at official functions, instead of singing it alone.”
That’s the kind of unselfishness that has made Cassidy-Rae such a hit with her peers and civic leaders. For her work with young people as
much as for her musical accomplishments, Cassidy-Rae became the Hills Youth Ambassador last year, a role the level-headed young woman takes seriously.
All this while achieving acclaim far and wide. Perfectly Single, Cassidy-Rae’s second release, is also attracting an audience as a song on singledom, appealing to young men as well as women.
Last year, she wrote and recorded her debut EP Wanted with internationally acclaimed producer Nat Love (Adele, Coldplay, Delta Goodrem to name just a few) and Daniel Skeed (Casey Donavon and Elen Levon).
Cassidy-Rae is clearly heading for stardom beyond our shores, with an international performing and recording career a strong possibility. But for now she is happy with her local fame. While many older performers would love to have regular performing gigs, Cassidy-Rae has three — at Sydney’s Intercontinental Hotel, JJ’s Bar in Dural and The Brewery in Rouse Hill. She has also played at The Vanguard in Newtown and is a regular at Hills civic events.
If that is not enough, Cassidy-Rae finds time to study music practice and management at Macquarie University.
“I don’t know how she fits it all in but she manages. Just look at how full her calendar is,” mum Raelene said as she pointed to the large calendar on the fridge.
While the singer is managed by Oxygen Music Group, Raeleen acts as Cassidy-Rae’s social organiser and roadie.
“There is so much to carry to her gigs — her keyboard and amplifiers for a start,” Raeleen said. “And I am learning to take quality photos as well, having bought a good camera with Cassidy-Rae.”
This young woman is heading in the direction that was set from the time she gate-crashed her brother Joshua’s piano lessons when she was two. Raeleen laughs at the memory.
“Her brother Joshua was having lessons from the age of three but the teacher thought Cassidy-Rae was too young. She relented when she could see how keen she was,” Raeleen said.
After those lessons there was no looking back, although Cassidy-Rae said it was her part in a school musical production, called Go Noah, as a nagging Mrs Noah at the age of 10, that really whetted her appetite for music and performing.
“That really was the start of everything — I just had to sing after that,” Cassidy-Rae said.
Soon after, she was writing her own material in the country pop genre, soulful songs that reflect the emotions so many of us feel. “I write what I am thinking and feeling and go from there,” Cassidy-Rae said.
Her biggest influences are Delta Goodrem, Adele and Sara Bareilles.
“I think Delta is amazing and she used to live in the Hills, although I have never met her,” she said. “But I have also listened over the years to my father’s eclectic mix of old vinyl records, which includes the Beatles and Michael Buble.”
It is easy to see that Cassidy-Rae would be revered by young girls, with her elegant style of cascading, wavy hair, feminine waisted dresses and pearl necklaces that give her a slightly old-fashioned air. She looks a little like Alice in Wonderland — although you can’t imagine her tumbling down a rabbit hole. Cassidy-Rae is much too grounded for that.
And it is her close-knit family that keeps it real for her. Mother Raeleen, businessman father Steve and science student brother Joshua all live harmoniously in their standard Glenhaven house, surrounded by trees populated by beautiful rosellas that regularly visit the back porch to be hand fed apples by their fellow songbird.
“This is how I relax, feeding the rosellas and kookaburras, and baking brownies for visitors,” Cassidy-Rae said.
Yes, I can vouch for the quality of the brownies — as sweet as the pretty young singer who baked them. ☐