Upcoming artist Chelsea Stutchbury has conquered cancer to release her debut single, Vincristine, with support from Sony Foundation Australia and Make a Wish.
The 19-year-old Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University jazz voice student named the song after the chemotherapy chemical she required for her battle with life-threatening lymphoma.
“At the time the drug temporarily affected my voice and made it go quite shaky so I couldn’t sing anywhere near like I used to,” she explains.
“The lyrics for Vincristine were about my fear that my voice may not come back to me again.”
Chelsea was diagnosed in her last year of high school and even auditioned for the Queensland Conservatorium while chemotherapy was intravenously attached.
After finishing six rounds of chemo, she was accepted into the Conservatorium where according to her teacher Dr Irene Bartlett, she has witnessed her voice gain strength again with each passing week.
“My first impression was that this was a very sick young lady, she was incredibly thin, pale, no hair,” Dr Bartlett explains.
“But it was her calm determination and fixed focus to work really hard that impressed me most.”
Irene is renowned for her teaching ability, having trained Megan Washington, Katie Noonan, Elly Hoyt and Kristin Berardi.
Her students have also been recipients of prestigious industry and academic awards including: seven Aria Awards, The Freedman Jazz Fellowship (the Music Council of Australia), the Montreaux Jazz Festival international vocalist competition, five James Morrison Generations in Jazz Scholarships, and two Churchill Fellowships.
Irene and Chelsea have worked together to build not just the technical aspects of her voice, but also to allow her confidence to return.
Now, Irene says she “doesn’t believe there is a limit to what Chelsea can do”.
“She has such a still and quiet confidence, she has a great sense of direction and she’s also able to take up a challenge…I think she will go a long way,” she says.
Encouraged by World Champion Surfer Layne Beachley to continue to pursue her dream to sing, Chelsea is an ‘Aim for the Stars’ scholarship recipient and ambassador.
Kirk Pengilly, INXS, also encouraged Chelsea’s musical endeavours with recording and stage confidence wisdom. Meeting Katy Perry, Delta Goodrem and Taylor Swift also continued her inspiration to sing and create music.
Currently in her second year of university, Chelsea describes the experience so far as “amazing”.
“It’s great to be at the Con, it’s such an amazing environment to be around other musicians… I love walking down the halls and hearing a harp play or a violinist, it’s definitely an amazing university experience,” she says.
“I’ve also learned that you don’t know how truly strong you can be until faced with something of great challenge.”
The song was co-written by ‘The Voice Australia’ Musical Director Scott Aplin, also pianist for Vincristine. Co-Producers and Engineers were Kevin Browne and Adrian Breakspear.
Vincristine is available through iTunes and Spotify with all proceeds going directly to the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute.