A mystery package offered in payment for a New Year’s Day gig sent Inverell country music singer Emma Dykes reeling.
The Man of the House singer was offered either her usual appearance fee or the contents of a nondescript box.
“That’s not something you get offered everyday,” she said. “It’s like one of the game shows that you see on telly - are you going to take the prize or keep on playing? It was very exciting.”
Taking a gamble on the box, Dykes discovered two return tickets to Nashville, and the chance to take part in the prestigious Tin Pan songwriting festival and spend day in a recording studio.
“I’m speechless really. I can’t get my head around it. It’s amazing. It’s like you see in the movies,” she said.
“I don’t feel that I deserve it. I thought everything that I did was just part of the game, and for someone to turn around and think that I deserve something that crazy, that’s awesome.”
Initiated by community radio station STA FM, the offer marked the launch of a campaign for the community to help fund Dykes’s trip. Anonymous donors have pledged to cover the cost of airline tickets, with the station seeking more donations for the songwriting festival and studio time.
“There’s so many times in the Inverell area that people ring up musicians and say ‘We need you to play for nothing because we’re doing this and this and this,’ and Emma has done this time and time and time again, in such a dignified matter that it’s about time that it comes back the other way,” STA FM’s Peter Jarrett said.
“Her positive energy is an inspiration for other people and her talent should be rewarded.” He said the station wanted to show that living in a country town wasn’t a disadvantage for young artists, and that many community groups were keen to support their talent.
Dykes remains a surprised, but enthusiastic passenger along for the ride.
“I’m amazed at the whole pay it forward side of it. It’s what I’ve based my album on, to try and inspire people to be that better version of themselves. Not once would it have ever crossed my mind that I would have seen something so amazing come out of that,” she said.
“I keep having to pinch myself because I’m well aware that when I recorded the album it may have been something that no one ever heard or no one wanted to. I didn’t think that it was going to end up on radio or that I’d be where I am now.”
Dykes will appear throughout the Tamworth Country Music Festival, starting with a 1.15pm performance at the Post Office Hotel on January 19. She will appear at the Tudor Hotel on January 20, 21, 24 and 25, the ABC Peel St stage on January 26 and Cattlemen’s Steakhouse on January 28. The Nashville trip will be in April, either 2018 or 2019.