Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar

“Coming from nothing, it takes a little bit more to get to something”

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Musician Mason Hope, 21, may have had a tough start in life, but it has only made him more determined to forge ahead and reach his goals – one song (and tap) at a time

Iwas somewhere between the ages of nine months and one year old when my grandmothe­r started raising me. I’ve been with her ever since, and I still live with her. In fact, she’s somewhere in the lounge room right now [laughs]. Nan has been my rock for a long time. I love her to death and she’s such a support.

My mother wasn’t well and my father abandoned me, so that’s why I came to live with Nan. She had to leave the job she loved when I was a newborn. It was always a bit of a struggle, but there was always lots of love.

Music has been a part of my life since forever. I can’t remember specifical­ly when I first started playing instrument­s – I’ve just always been a bit of a music fanatic, a bit of a tapper. The story goes, as Nan tells it, that I used to tap things around the house. So I got into drums originally. Then I went on to play the guitar and started singing.

Music has been my salvation when I’ve been lonely. By the time I was 18,

I’d won the iconic Gympie Music Muster

Talent Search and the 2017 Trans-tasman Entertaine­r Of The Year. I’d also appeared at festivals like Bluesfest, the Gympie Music Muster, Tamworth Country Music Festival and Caloundra Music Festival.

The songs I write are from my life and the lives of people around me. My song “The River” [which made it onto the 2020 APRA Song Of The Year list; Hope’s EP was number two on the itunes chart] was about the anxiety I used to experience. I still do from time to time, but when I was younger, it felt like I was drowning. The ability to write experience­s into my music has been great.

The Smith Family [a national charity that helps disadvanta­ged children] helped me get my first drum kit, a Pearl Vision Birch, which I still have – it’s my baby. It also helped me with music lessons and to take my studying of music further. I got involved with the charity when I started attending its homework club at the end of primary school, and got help with tutoring, homework and assignment­s. It was great as it gave Nan a bit of a break – from me!

Later, I received a scholarshi­p through The Smith Family’s Learning For Life program, which was fantastic. It helped with books and uniforms and other things I needed for school. That took a lot of weight off Nan. I don’t think I’d be where I am today, with my career and where I am musically, if I hadn’t had the charity behind me, pushing me forward.

There were definitely responsibi­lities I had to take on earlier than was expected of a teenager or a child. Looking back on all that I’ve experience­d, everything that’s led up to where I am now, it’s humbling and eye-opening. Coming from nothing, it takes a little bit more to get to something. I’ve had to work hard, and yes, sometimes I’ve had to work harder than others.

If I could talk to my younger self, or to someone who is going through hardship, I’d say: Don’t let your past determine who you become. You’re enough. No matter what your circumstan­ces are, you’re enough.

Mason Hope’s new single ‘Middle Class Man’ will be released in April. This story was produced in partnershi­p with The Smith Family; to find out more about the

Learning For Life program, and how you can help, visit thesmithfa­mily.com.au.

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