Country music singer Patrick McMahon caught a glimpse of his future backing singer over a decade ago, when his then-four-year-old niece, Lauren Butler sat snuggled up against him on the couch, watching MTV.
‘Phil Collins was singing In the Air Tonight and I suddenly realised that Lauren was singing in perfect harmony and pitch with Phil. I was stunned. She only sang a fraction longer, because she's very shy, and we were all just flabbergasted.’
But it took until Lauren was 16 and sang a song she’d penned, that the depth of her talent truly showed itself.
‘She just surprised us all by writing the most beautiful loving tribute to her grandfather who had recently passed away. So, all of a sudden, a singer/songwriter popped out,’ Patrick laughs.
Lauren and her long-time friend, Melissa Nadin, who trained at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, now regularly perform with Patrick at festivals and concerts.
‘Lauren and Mel are phenomenal together and there's just some magic that happens when it's a family,’ Patrick says.
Whilst coronavirus has delayed plans to record an album with the two young women, Patrick says it has led him to write more songs.
‘Some musicians have a tendency to lock themselves away in their lonely writer's garret for months and months at a time and write an entire album. I usually write one song a year and think that’s good. I think I could be a bit of a machine in the song writing department but I'm a bit lazy and I've got so many other interests as well, with horses, playing guitar, refurbishing antique tractors and things like that,’ Patrick says.
‘But this time has given my mind space to be clear and I’m writing so much. I’m loving it.’