No ordinary school prize

One of Australia's most talented young singer-songwriters yesterday brightened the lunch hour of students at Launceston's Scotch Oakburn College with a free outdoor concert.

Monique Brumby, a former Tasmanian and two- time ARIA winner, performed for pupils as a prize for a student who was Tasmania's highest fund-raiser in Community Aid Abroad's Walk Against Want.

Grade 10 student Sabrina Smith raised $370 in the walk and nominated Brumby as the person she wanted for her school concert prize.

Although Smith has gone to South Africa on an exchange, Brumby said she was still happy to play at the school.

``I'm always happy to support things I believe in. I played an anorexia and bulimia support gig, and I've played quite a few protest gigs, '' Brumby said.

``Musicians are just people like everyone else. But I suppose we have a public voice and sometimes we have to use it to speak about things we believe in.''

Brumby squeezed the concert into a busy touring schedule supporting Irish singer-songwriter Luka Bloom.

Born in Devonport, Brumby moved to Hobart when she was seven years old and has been living in Melbourne for four years. She recorded her first album, Thylacine, in 1996 and the petite 24-year-old's career has been on the up ever since.

In 1996 she won the ARIA for Best Australian New Talent, and in 1997 won a second for Best Female Performer.

Brumby said she was happy with the direction her career was moving in.

``Things are going really well. I feel like I'm having a bit of a purple patch in terms of my songwriting at the moment. I've been travelling overseas and writing. It's been a good way of getting me out of the comfort zone,'' Brumby said.

The singer has just released a new EP, Eventide, which she hopes will provide a ``bridge'' between Thylacine and her next album.

``There's a lot more space in the music on Eventide. The songs have got more of an edge and there's also some experimentation with electronica. We thought we'd release the five tracks as a bit of a taste test,'' Brumby said.

She will begin recording next month and hopes the album will be released in the first six months of 1999. Despite finding her niche in the Melbourne music scene, Brumby said she always loved coming home.

``There's a laid-back attitude here, and the community are very supportive of me,'' Brumby said.