My Artistic Practice

My artistic practise began playing music at the dinner table with my family, then studying (Cert & HBMus), teaching and performing as a singer, songwriter, performer and session musician.

My work life always had the gracious anchor of my family business, working together to design and manufacture light aircraft in the NSW Northern Rivers. I built skills in promotion, web design, photography, video/print media, and sales – for music and aircraft. It sounds strange, but you can’t argue hanging out of a helicopter filming your Dad flying at close range.

I’ve created acoustic, live soul band and synthesised albums over 20 years and this album takes an innovative next step in my own music creation practise, through local-history story-telling with my diverse community of musicians and pilots.

Idea for Project

This Project creates a new 8-12 episode podcast and a standalone album.

As a narrative, it weaves interviews, memories, sound scapes & original songs around a heart of interviews with Aussie Bush Pilots who fly the aircraft my dad, Howard Hughes, designed & manufactured for 30 years.

I want to connect, enhance & reveal the aviation community he forged, tell of why pilots are drawn to the sky, and seek the stories of the light aircraft that are like siblings to me. Both of my parents passed away in recent years, and I’m compelled to capture & preserve their talent’s legacy in Australian Aviation through my art.

The project will draw in the diverse artists that shape my region’s musical network landscape. Specifically my band of professional musicians & engineers, the Northern Rivers Conservatoire where I developed my musicianship and artistic expression; and the multi-cultured female (Hawaiian, New Zealander and South American) vocalists I have come to study with and adore in my choirs and vocal workshops.

The most rewarding gigs to play are in small halls full of listening community; Babes in arms, children inspired, singing along in harmony if you give half a chance. So with particular attention to country flight schools and test pilots, female pilots, and the kids who learnt to fly in the High School courses my father forged, I will document this incredible man’s chapter of local Australian history, and offer music as a soundtrack to the diverse community that supported us.

Intended Outcomes

This project captures a great Australian story through a strong album of music – employing skills from a cross section of high calibre regional musicians, engineers, choirs and supporters.

The full project concept was to tour regional areas of Australia, interviewing in person, and recording shows and workshops in local community halls. While Covid-19 limits travel, I will build relationship connections through interviews first, and meet in person in a series of small tours, when it’s safer.

I hope to inspire my peers; particularly my extremely talented, female peers and students. I have created three full lengths albums and two podcasts in the past- with teams from solo to dozens of talented collaborators. I know, however, this project will build my creative development, crafting for a wide range of listeners. This story is so unique. It will be my complete honour to create it for my dad. He was such an innovative, musical, creative, eccentric, Aussie bloke of a father.

Top Row L-R: Live at Mullum Fest; Live at Rous Mill Hall 1 & 2; Live at Tintenbar Hall.
Clockwise from Top Left:
Shelly Brown ‘Wattle’ Photoshoot a (Photography by Polly Armstrong); Howard Hughes with the SP2000 Australian LightWing aircraft; Shelly, Nick & Leena with the first LightWing circa 1986; Shelly Brown ‘Wattle’ Photoshoot b; Video shot by Shelly hanging in a helicopter of the GR LSA @Ballina Airport, NSW; Howard Hughes Hang gliding, circa 1979; The GR LSA in Flight over Lennox Headland.

Activity Details – TimeLine

2020 (July - Dec)
YEAR Monthly Project Timeline Action: Notes DONE
2020 June-July
Trial interview recording via the internet testing audio quality and gear
Finding and connecting with all the pilots I want to talk to.
Songwriting & Preparing the stories
Invest in a professional standard pre-amp for internet audio recording
Trial interviews to practice and refine my questions, style and flow
Songwriting & Preparing the stories (contin.)
Touchbase with Northern Rivers Con for any student mentoring interest via the project
Interviews. With appropriate respect to the Aboriginal land on which I and they live.
Arranging Songs in Pre-production. Visualising the sounds, harmonies, workshopping tempos and feels.
Put my songs to a select few for their feedback
Website development
Prepare Vocal Harmonies for songs – Larger choirs and Stunning smaller groups
Songwriting & Preparing the stories (contin.)
YEAR Monthly Project Timeline Action: Notes DONE
2021 January-February      
    If Covid 19 Restrictions allow – We would go on a summer holiday    
    to a place with aussie pilots and small halls.    
    (E.G. Canarvon Gorge, The Dandenongs, or Tasmania)    
    Begin recording with my session musicians in the studio    
    Document the recoridng process with photography, film and eating cupcakes.  
    Possible Guest artists singing lead. If the songs call for it, I adore sharing the lead vocal with my talented community
    Help someone else apply for a Grant    
    Finalise all bed track recordings (Drum, bass, keys, guitar, lead vocal)    
    Prepare the vocal harmonies and choirs.    
    Possible Horns, Strings, percussion.    
    Go through with Merchandise? Teatowels and eco keyrings for aircraft    
    Editing Podcast interviews    
    Design Album and Podcast Artwork & Design Elements for social media and streaming platforms
    Mixing and Mastering of Album and Podcast    
    Present some episodes to select few for feedback    
    Complete Artwork and Design    
    Begin Social Media advertising camapign + Building the    
    Final stages of mastering and taking on feedback    
    Approach media sources for interviews/promo/giveaways (Radio, magazines, newspapers, aero clubs, community)
    Social Media and hardcopy advertsing as episodes begin    
    Hardcopy: Rhythms Magazine
      Australian Flying Magazine
      The Echo (Byron Bay)
    Begin release of Episodes of the Podcast was a weekly schedule    
2022 (Jan - June)

2022 January-February

YEAR Monthly Project Timeline Action: Notes DONE
    Register songs with APRA    
    Release the songs of the Project as a separate album Release to platforms Independently via Amuse
    Have a release party, Dammit!    
    It’s summer again, go somewhere for holidays and play some gigs.    
    Organise & Play some small Hall gigs in local area    
    ApraAmcos Sendout to regional Radio stations    
    Apply to Woodford Folk Festival
    Apply to Port Fairy Folk Festival
    Apply to the BB Blues Festival
    Apply to National Folk Festival
    Apply to Newcastle Ukulele Festival
    Enter some Australian song competitions (Vanda and Young, ASA)    
  September-October Apply to Jumpers and Jazz Festival

Small Halls

Previous Work and Pre-production for Project

‘Burnin’ For A Long Time’ was live recorded in this small hall. I wish to studio record it with a full band and harmonies for the Small Halls and Big Skies Project.

Vocals & Baritone Ukulele – Shelly Brown

Keys – Dan Brown

Drum Kit – Grant Gerathy (Jon Butler; Ludwig)

Harmony Vocal – Sonia Leeson

‘Old Hands’ (Demo Recording)  I wish to studio record it with a small band and harmonies for the Small Halls and Big Skies Project.

Vocals & Nylon String Guitar – Shelly Brown

‘Focus’ 2019 Album by Shelly Brown

I wish to studio record “Follow The Blackbird” for the Small Halls and Big Skies Project with a choir and a band. The recording on this album is a stunning live studio recording with a trio of vocalists.

This is my Singing Lessons Podcast. My other podcast is a bedtime stories project with my 7 yo son.

I acknowledge and pay respect to the ancestors, Elders and descendants of the Lands upon which I live and create.
These Lands always were and always will be Bundjalung Aboriginal Land.