NOTE: This article is reprinted from the Summer 1999 Country Music Industry Edition of Geoff Wilbur's Renegade Newsletter. It did not appear in the June 1999 Lansing Edition of the Renegade.
I first met Brooke at the 1997 Undercurrents Music Conference in Cleveland. She turned 16 the weekend of the conference, winning over the audience with her performance the day after her birthday.
But Brooke had already been wowing crowds for years, with first place finishes in the Jacaranda Talent Quest and the Iluka Talent Quest way back in 1992.
"I got into the country music scene when I was about eleven years old," Brooke recalls. "I started singing. I started in the Jacaranda Festival -- that's this little festival in Grafton (Brooke's hometown). We have a festival every year in September, and that's where I got started.
"From there, I went into a few more talent quests, and it just generated from there. I haven't stopped since."
In 1998, several contest entries (and several contest victories) later, Brooke won the Gympie Muster, sponsored by CMT. "The Gympie Muster has been the most prestigious (talent contents) I've ever won," says Brooke.
"The Gympie Muster is absolutely huge," Brooke explains. "Thousands of people go and camp together."
As part of the prize for winning the Muster, three of Brooke's songs appeared on the CMT Muster Talent Search Finalists CD, produced by Universal Music Australia. Fittingly, three songs were selected that showcase Brooke's vocal talents and versatility -- "Tenderly," "Maybe He'll Notice Her Now," and "Wham Bam."
Aside from winning increasingly larger talent contests, Brooke's career highlights have included performing before a crowd of 20,000 at Sydney’s Coca Cola Schools Spectacular in 1995 and 1996. 1999 has been a particularly big year for Brooke. She was a support act for Lee Kernaghan, Adam Brand and Troy Cassar-Daley at the Steve Thompson benefit. She supported Troy Cassar-Daley and George Fox at the Grafton District Services Club. She has opened for Mitchell Shadlow. In February, she sang "God Save The Queen" and "Advance Australia Fair" to open the day-night Australia vs. England cricket match. Also this year, she was featured in the Toyota Fashion Parade.
In addition to her budding solo career, Brooke sometimes performs with her two younger sisters, Samantha and Mollie, who are also drawing some attention. Perhaps there's an all-sister world tour in the cards early in the next millennium.
What has Brooke done lately? "I've just been to Norfolk Island," she says. "I was in a competition over there. That was so much fun. I actually had my eighteenth birthday over there."
What's next? Must be a record deal. And Brooke is prepared for that, as well.
"I found out about the business in 1997, when I was 15 turning 16. I actually got to come to America to Cleveland, Ohio to the Undercurrents expo. That was the first time I was actually introduced to the business side of the music industry, and that was an eye-opener, which was fantastic. It was the first time I'd ever been to another country, and my mom and my nan came with me.
"That was an eye-opener -- the business side is a lot of hard work to do. And to be over there at 16, it was such a privilege -- I'll never forget that." During that same trip, Brooke spent a few days in Nashville, a visit which included singing at the Ryman Theater and The Sutler.
Since that trip, Brooke has learned even more about the music biz. In July 1998, she graduated from the Talent Development Programme in Sydney, a program that will help ensure she is prepared for what she will encounter in the music industry.
Says Brooke of her immediate future, "I'm actually headed to finish my year 12 -- my year 12 high certificate. This is my last year, so I really have to concentrate. But other than that, hopefully a very successful career in the music industry.
"Probably next year, I'll enter the Stylemaker... the highest talent quest in Australia. That's the talent quest before you turn professional. Country music in Australia wouldn't be as huge as it might be in America. It's really hard, but I've got to keep doing it. And the support of my family is really great, too. Just gotta keep plugging away."
Beyond Australia, Brooke would love to have a career in Nashville. She says, "When people'd say 'Have you been to Nashville?' I've gone 'Yeah, I've been to Nashville,' but I didn't have that long over there. I wish I had longer. It's magical; it really is. Especially when you love what you do. It's the place to be."
And Nashville would be lucky to have the talented, personable, young Brooke McClymont as one of its rising stars. Here's hoping she gets a chance to show what she can do.
And when asked what country artist she'd most like to tour with if given the chance, Brooke responds, "My all-time idol would be Dolly Parton. That would be fantastic. Growing up with her music would be such an inspiration." So, Dolly, drop her a line...