From the leafy Sydney Hills to the bustling streets of Nashville in the USA, local country pop trio Victoria Avenue is set for the big time.
The bubbly trio of Tiara Maceri, 22, Peta Ingleton, 21, and Holly Moore, 22, were looking forward to their November trip to the country music capital of the world when they spoke to Sydney Hills Living.
But they were equally happy about their headline act at the Sydney Country Music Festival, held at Bella Vista Farm, after being a support act last year.
And what a sensation they were, wowing the Saturday afternoon crowd, just before light rain dampened the keen country fans who were still loath to move from the expansive grass area in front of the stage.
Victoria Avenue’s keenest fans, including a couple of blokes with obvious crushes on the girls, were hugging the front barrier, jostling for space with the media photographers during the one hour performance.
All wanted to be close to the girls, who surprised the crowd with the debut performance of their new song Available, which they were set to record in Nashville.
Earlier in the day, Victoria Avenue did media interviews, in which they said how excited they were to be performing at a
Sydney country music festival in their
“It is amazing to be performing in a country festival so close to home instead of having to travel 10 hours,” Holly said. “It’s quite surreal.”
Victoria Avenue was the leading Hills-based act among a stellar music line-up that included Beccy Cole, Adam Brand, Christie Lamb, the Adam Eckersley Band, Adam Harvey, Simply Bushed and The Wolfe Brothers.
Down home girls
Incredibly, the girls still live at home with their parents — Tiara in Castle Hill, Holly in Baulkham Hills and Peta in West Pennant Hills.
They now laugh at the memory of being asked why Hills girls were attracted to country music, seeing that this is now the home of Sydney country music — a satellite, really, of Tamworth.
In harmony musically and personally, the girls were naturally drawn to country pop for its versatility and popularity, largely driven by their idol, Taylor Swift.
“We like that country music tells a story and people feel a connection to that,” Peta said. “There’s diversity in the genre, from bluegrass through to pop, that we like.”
But not all of their friends felt that connection, needing to have “their eyes opened up to it”, Tiara said. “Now, after being fully immersed in the industry, we can safely say it’s the only way to go.
We have incredible support from the country music industry and the media.
“It also goes without saying that the fans are the best in the world! We love our country music and the authenticity that country music artists have. The raw vocal and instruments leave nothing to hide behind — what you see is what you get.”
Now their friends, along with their close-knit families, are their biggest fans among a growing support base.
Girls going places
It was clear from the time Victoria Avenue was officially launched at the 2014 Tamworth Country Music Festival that these girls were going places.
Yet those who have seen them develop since they started singing together as 14-year-olds at the Sister2Sister Singing School in Castle Hill, would not be the least surprised.
All with supportive, and proud, families and friends, the girls had the talent and the right look from the start. After showing their hearts-on-their-sleeves style at Tamworth, the trio was invited by Morgan Evans and Kaylee Bell to perform with them at the prestigious CMC Rocks the Hunter in March, 2014.
That led to Victoria Avenue opening for Morgan Evans, sibling duo Kaylens Rain and The Viper Creek Band, which has taken them on tour through Victoria, Tasmania, New South Wales and Queensland.
The ultimate high was signing with Dog Whistle Music for their first single, Quit You, a song that showcases their three-part harmony. The girls launched the single at Hillside Tavern, showing their hearts remain in the Hills.
After all, they carry the Hills in their name, which signifies Victoria Avenue Castle Hill, their own little world when they were younger.
“It seemed that everything we were doing — singing, dancing — was around Victoria Avenue, so we didn’t agonise too much over our name,” Peta said.
In January, the girls, backed by their talented three-piece band, released their self-titled EP of five songs.
All of their music is available through iTunes, their albums in JB HiFi, and you can see and hear them on YouTube, if you don’t manage to get to one of their gigs.
And those gigs are becoming more frequent, in clubs, pubs and other venues in New South Wales and interstate. They are regulars at the Opera Bar in Sydney, one of their favourite places to play and hang out. Locals have not been forgotten, with Hillside Tavern in Castle Hill one of their regular spots.
Their first residency was at the Fiddler at Rouse Hill, where their manager Anna Andre, a PR consultant, first spotted them and was smart enough to sign them up.
While the girls have or are doing tertiary study — Peta in psychology and business, Tiara in media and marketing and Holly in fashion — their families have never pressured them to “get day jobs”, although they do have day jobs for now.
“But we are serious about this business and making it our career,” Peta said.
The girls love the buzz of mixing with and exchanging ideas with other artists, which is why they love music festivals. Of course, Nashville is one big country music festival, and will further fuel the girls’ creativity. They hope to broaden their songwriting skills, while still covering their favourite artists.
After Nashville, the girls travelled around the States, as a holiday-work opportunity venture.
Sights and sounds
There is no doubt that the girls are the whole package, with their fun fashion sense showing off their different personalities while also reflecting the laidback country-pop look.
Thoroughly grounded by a good, suburban upbringing, the girls are confident they will not “go off the rails” and will stay true to themselves. “We keep each other grounded,” Holly said.
No doubt so do their proud families, and their growing legion of fans who have followed them from the beginning.
Their Facebook page has good interaction with regular followers and highlights the diversity of their appeal, with venues that attract all ages. It also shows the humanity of the girls, with their regular gigs for causes.
The girls are constantly asked so many questions about their future and how they started.
“We love that people are interested enough to care,” Tiara said.
When manager Anna Andre saw the girls perform locally, she had no hesitation in signing them to her small stable of artists.
“Girl groups are plentiful, but it’s the truly dynamic and talented ones who can be the
real gems to come across,” Andre enthuses on her website.
You only have to watch Victoria Avenue in action once, and you will understand exactly what that happy manager means. ☐