Centre stage

Bachelor of Music

Since graduating from the Queensland Conservatorium, Megan Washington has made a huge mark on the Australian music scene.

She has worked as a mentor on The Voice, watched by more than three million viewers, won two ARIAs and been awarded the the $50,000 artist development prize in the inaugural Vanda and Young songwriting competition.

Megan always knew she was destined to follow a creative path but it was the focus provided by her years studying at the Conservatorium that paved the way for her success.

"When I finished high school I either wanted to study acting or dance; I didn't actually think I was good enough to get into the Con," she said.

Through the encouragement of her piano teacher she took up study at the Con, majoring in jazz voice with a minor in composition.

"I loved my time there. This is not something that's unique to me but the first two years of my degree I had that monkish, very scholarly dedication. I just got so into it, going out every night to gigs, listening to Art Blakey and Thelonius Monk all the time.

"I feel like people start off in their lives like this big torch, which you shine on a lot of different things and as you get older you become more like a laser beam, you become more specific and eliminate a lot of the variables. And I got more and more into the idea of being a songwriter."

During this time she collaborated with another Conservatorium graduate, pianist Sean Foran from the jazz trio Misinterprotato, and released Nightlight.

"I was really proud of that record but when I got it back in my hands I realised I wanted to go further," Washington says.

"Around that time I was discovering rock'n'roll for the first time. I didn't know anything about the Rolling Stones, not much about The Beatles, much less about The Clash or punk."

She realised that the way she could most eloquently express herself was through writing music herself.

"The problem I found with jazz was, if you are a singer you want to tell stories," she said.

"But there were no stories in the standards repertoire that felt socially or emotionally relevant to me. So I thought, I'll write my own songs."

"One of the huge breakthroughs for me was when I realised, I'm not a pop artist. But I'm certainly not a jazz artist, so what am I? I'm some weird other thing.

"But my time at the Conservatorium, studying so intensely and really identifying with that, it's still in me. You can never unlearn something you've learned."

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