'I Was Trying Not To Cry' - Cairns' Leanne Tennant Takes Out The 2018 Carol Lloyd Award

9 April 2018 | 11:51 am | Velvet Winter

'I had been battling with the 'should I quit?' thoughts.'

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Cairns' musician Leanne Tennant has taken out the second iteration of the Carol Lloyd Award overnight, a $15,000 grant awarded to a female Queenslander to encourage and further their artistry. Tennant shared with The Music her struggle, her inspiration and her ultimate triumph.

The award winner was announced at last night's Songs That Made Me concert at Brisbane's revered QPAC Concert Hall and, as Tennant recalls, despite appearing cool onstage, she was shocked by the news. 

"I was trying not to cry, I'm not a crier and I felt like I was having a major anxiety attack, my heart was just through my chest. I got up there and I couldn't speak, I just kept looking down. I was just praying they didn't ask me to do a speech," Tennant laughs.

The grant is awarded in honour of legendary Brisbane musician Carol Lloyd who transformed the local music scene with her band Railroad Gin. Sadly passing away in 2017, her legacy lives on with the award and with those who receive it.

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"I feel this connection, she was kind of the mother figure of the music industry in Brisbane and Queensland. She had a lot of help assisting emerging musicians to find their feet and back up in Cairns I run a musicians program. So I help people at different stages find out what to do next with their music. I felt this kind of synergy with what we both do. It's such an honour to be linked with her legacy," Tennant says.

The award couldn't have come at a better time for Tennant, who up until recently, had still been questioning herself about a career in music.

"I had been battling with the 'should I quit?' thoughts. Maybe a year and a half ago, I was thinking 'ok, how much longer can I do this for?' Luckily, a couple of months before the award I had a couple of great women jump and in and say 'let's do this' and it's all happened at this weird moment," Tennant says.

It's this kind of support from peers that Tennant finds invaluable for up-and-coming musicians.

"The program that I run in Cairns, I used to go to. I used to go to these things and see people achieve things like what I've just done and it inspired me that I can do it, I can do it if I work hard enough. It's hard but if you work hard enough and you believe in what you're doing — I think it's pretty hard to fail. It's when you start losing the belief, which is what I was doing, is when you start to doubt yourself," Tennant says.

A seasoned musician, this wasn't Tennant's first grant application and while the process might be time-consuming, she encourages hopefuls to put their best foot forward.

"I've applied for a number of grants so what I've learnt is don't rush it. When I'm applying for grants, I'm looking it at months out from the due date. Look at the support you can get, ask people for letters of references well before the due date. Think ahead, even if there are no grants that you want to apply for now and you do a gig for someone or you work with someone of influence, ask them to write a letter of support. Really research what the grant is and be honest," Tennant encourages.

"The feedback that I got from Carol Lloyd was that I was just completely transparent — this is how I want to do it, this is why I want to do it and I need to do this now."