Tenant talent is music to Access Housing’s ears

31 Mar 2016

British musician Bryan Ferry once said, “But when you get music and words together, that can be a very powerful thing.” This sentiment certainly rings true for Access Housing tenant Jeff, who recently used a live musical performance to pay tribute to organisations that have positively impacted his life.

In February Jeff competed on stage in the inaugural Ability Idol, a talent concert for West Australians aged 5-60 living with a disability.

Jeff performing at the Ability Idol event. Picture courtesy of Ability Idol/Ben Cox

Jeff performing at the Ability Idol event. Picture courtesy of Ben Cox

Jeff was one of six singers that performed their chosen song at Melville’s Kadidjiny Park during the Ability Idol event. Rather than perform a cover version like his fellow competitors, Jeff drew inspiration from his life and penned an original acoustic song called Oilfield and Rocky Bay. His performance earned him third place in the competition.

Oilfield and Rocky Bay was Jeff’s ode to Rocky Bay Employment Services who assisted him to get a work placement with Oilfield Production Technologies.

Jeff said he wanted to use the song to publicly thank both organisations for the opportunities they afforded him, particularly Oilfield Production Technologies.

“They were so good to me. The guys were fantastic to work with in the laboratory. If I needed to know something they helped me out – there was no ‘no, leave me alone I’m doing something.’ If they came to me and said they needed something, I’d just do it. It was a very, very good atmosphere,” Jeff said.

While Jeff wasn’t inexperienced performing live on stage, there was certainly a level of surprise at how large the audience was for the Ability Idol event.

“I have played in a number of hotels and got good feedback, but not really in front of a crowd like that. I didn’t realise the amphitheatre was going to be completely full,” Jeff said with a laugh.

Jeff took up the guitar at 10 years of age when he received 10 guitar lessons as a present. It was clear early that Jeff had talent as he only completed “six or seven” formal lessons before continuing his tuition mostly on his own. His commitment to teaching himself as much as possible about playing the guitar has certainly paid off, as he can now play a range of guitars including acoustic, classical, electric and 12 string.

“If I get the music books out I can probably play and sing about 150 songs,” Jeff said.

Jeff’s musical prowess also extends to song writing. He has already penned close to 10 original songs, including one encouraging charitable donations called Anytime is the Right Time for Giving. He hopes to pitch the song to either Telethon or Appealathon once he has “polished it up a little bit”.

Jeff has been an Access Housing tenant for nearly five years and said his relationship with Access Housing, and particularly his Housing Coordinator, Jo, has been helpful in his musical pursuits.

“Jo has been so fantastic to me. We get along well. She’s always been great,” he said.

Jo, herself a musician, said Jeff’s talent was undeniable and inspiring.

“His ability to not only play a variety of guitars but also to write and perform his own songs is remarkably impressive and a credit to his years of hard work,” Jo said.

“Mastering one type of instrument is challenging in itself, so when you master more than one and couple that with the talent to write your own songs and then pull it all together onstage and perform to such high standards, that truly is commendable.”

Something tells us that we’ll be hearing more of Jeff’s music in the future.

Congratulations Jeff!