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Missy Higgins
A woman in her twenties with short dark hair plays an acoustic guitar and sings into a microphone, lit by bright stage lights.
Missy Higgins, Majestic Theater,
Madison, Wisconsin, 10 July 2008
Background information
Birth name Melissa Morrison Higgins
Born 19 August 1983 (1983-08-19) (age 26)
Origin Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Genres pop
Occupations singer-songwriter, musician
Instruments vocals, piano, synthesiser, guitar, melodica, xylophone
Years active 2001–present
Labels Eleven
Warner (US)
Website missyhiggins.com
Notable instruments
Roland RD-700, Maton

Melissa "Missy" Morrison Higgins (born 19 August 1983) is an Australian pop singer-songwriter, musician and actor, her No. 1 albums are The Sound of White (2004) and On a Clear Night (2007), with her Top Ten singles being "Scar", "The Special Two", "Steer" and "Where I Stood". From a musical family in Melbourne, she played piano by age six and sang at twelve. While boarding at Geelong Grammar School, she wrote a song for an assignment which was then entered into the national Unearthed radio competition for unsigned artists. Higgins won and signed recording contracts with Eleven and Warner Bros. After taking time off, backpacking in Europe, she recorded her first album The Sound of White, which was released in 2004. The album, and its first single, "Scar" both went to No. 1 on the relevant Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) Charts. Its second single, "The Special Two", went to No. 2. Higgins was nominated for five ARIA Music Awards that year and won 'Best Pop Release' for "Scar". In 2005 she was nominated for seven more awards and won five. She won her seventh ARIA in 2007.

In 2006, Higgins wrote new material for her second album, and following a US tour she recorded On a Clear Night, which gave her another No. 1 single with "Steer". Higgins has conducted several well received Australian tours and performed at high-profile charity events WaveAid (2005) and Live Earth (2007). She has toured internationally and lived and worked in the United States for ten months in 2008. Her song "Where I Stood" has been used in television shows including Grey's Anatomy, One Tree Hill and So You Think You Can Dance. Alongside her music career, Higgins pursues interests in animal rights and the environment, endeavouring to make her tours carbon neutral. She is also the patron of One in Five, an Australian mental health charity. In 2007, following years of press speculation about her sexual orientation, she came out as bisexual, saying that she prefers interviewers to focus on her music. In 2010 she made her acting debut in feature Bran Nue Dae, and performed on the related soundtrack.

Contents

Biography

Early life

Melissa "Missy" Morrison Higgins was born 19 August 1983 in Melbourne, Victoria to Christopher Higgins, an English-Australian general practitioner, and Margaret (née Morrison), an Australian childcare centre operator.[1][2] Her sister, Nicola is seven years older, and brother, David is six years older.[2] She learned to play classical piano from age six, following in the footsteps of Christopher and David, but realised she wanted to be a singer at about 12 when she appeared in an Armadale Primary School production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.[3] Bored with practice, she gave up playing piano at that time.[4] Hoping for more freedom, she urged her parents to send her to Geelong Grammar School, an independent boarding school attended by her siblings. At Geelong she took up the piano again, this time playing jazz including performing with David's group on weekends.[5] Being introverted, she found piano practice helped her cope with living at boarding school.[4]

At 15, she wrote "All for Believing" for a school music assignment, completing it hours before the deadline.[6] The assignment earned an A and she performed her song in front of classmates. Upon approaching a Melbourne record company, she was told that they wanted more than one song.[4] She wrote more songs and worked with the Kool Skools project, which enables students to record music.[7] In 2001, Nicola entered "All for Believing" on Higgins' behalf into Unearthed, radio station Triple J's competition for unsigned artists. The song won the competition and was added to the station's play list.[8] Two record companies showed an interest in Higgins—Sony and Eleven.[4] She signed with Eleven, partly because they agreed that she would not be "made into a pop star"[9] and partly because they were happy for her to take time off for backpacking.[4] Her manager is Eleven's John Watson, who also manages rock band Silverchair.[1] He later said "Missy's the only time in my career I knew after 90 seconds I really wanted to sign her."[10] The backpacking trip had been planned with a friend for years and they spent most of 2002 in Europe; while she was travelling, "All for Believing" started to be played by Los Angeles radio station KCRW.[11] This brought attention from US record labels and, by year's end, an international recording deal with Warner Bros.[12]

2003–2005: The Sound of White

Higgins is seated. She sings into a microphone and plays a keyboard instrument. The lettering RD-300SX and Roland are visible across its front.
Higgins, San Francisco, United States, 11 August 2005
Courtesy Nabeel Hyatt

Higgins was the support act on a 2003 Australian tour by folk rock band The Waifs and rock band george.[12] She travelled to the US to work with producer, John Porter, recording her first extended play (EP) entitled Missy Higgins,[13] which was released in November and entered the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) Singles Chart Top 50 in August 2004.[14]

She toured Australia, supporting both Pete Murray and The John Butler Trio.[15] Her second four-track EP Scar was released in July.[16] The title track "Scar", co-written with US songwriter, Kevin Griffin, debuted at No. 1 on the ARIA Charts.[14][17] Her first album, The Sound of White, was released in September, and debuted at No. 1 on the ARIA Albums Chart.[14] Also produced by Porter, it sold over 500,000 copies.[18] She was nominated in five categories at the ARIA Music Awards of 2004 for "Scar": Best Female Artist', 'Single of the Year', 'Best Pop Release', 'Breakthrough Artist – Single' and 'Best Video' (directed by Squareyed Films).[19] At the awards ceremony on 17 October she received the award for Best Pop Release, beating Delta Goodrem, The Dissociatives, Kylie Minogue and Pete Murray.[19] This was followed by her first national headline tour.[20] Her second single "Ten Days" was co-written with Jay Clifford (guitarist in US band Jump, Little Children) and was inspired by Higgins' 2002 break-up with her boyfriend before she travelled to Europe.[21] Released in November, it peaked at No. 12.[14]

On 29 January 2005 Higgins performed with other local musicians including Nick Cave and Powderfinger at the WaveAid fundraising concert in the Sydney Cricket Ground.[22] The concert raised AUS$2.3 million for four charities supporting the victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake.[23] In March Higgins performed at the MTV Australia Awards and won the prize for 'Breakthrough Artist of the Year'.[24] The following month she released her third single, "The Special Two", which was a radio hit and reached No. 2.[14] "The Special Two" was released on an EP which included her cover of the Skyhooks song, "You Just Like Me Cos I'm Good In Bed", recorded for Triple J's 30th anniversary. The song had been the first track played on Triple J when it launched (as Double J) in 1975.[25] In May, Higgins won the 'Song of the Year' and 'Breakthrough' awards for "Scar" from the Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA).[26] She continued touring in mid-2005 and released her fourth single, "The Sound of White", in August.[14] In September she played a sold out performance at the Vanguard in Sydney with the proceeds going to One in Five, her sponsored mental health charity.[27] She was nominated for seven more ARIAs and in October won 'Album of the Year', 'Best Pop Release', 'Breakthrough Artist – Album' and 'Highest Selling Album' (all for The Sound of White) and 'Best Female Artist' (for "Scar").[28] She teamed up with fellow ARIA award-winning singer Ben Lee in late 2005 for a national tour.[29]

2006–present: On a Clear Night

Higgins stands and plays an acoustic guitar with her left hand high on the fret board. She sings into a microphone. Her right arm and bottom of guitar are not in view. Background has large stage lights.
Higgins, Live Earth concert, Sydney, 7 July 2007
Courtesy Itapp

During 2006, Higgins lived in Broome, Western Australia for six months, away from the entertainment industry. The relaxed lifestyle helped her focus on writing new material.[30] The landscape made a big impression, "It was the first place I'd ever felt honestly connected with my country, with the physical land of my country" and inspired her to write "Going North".[31] She then toured the United States and South Africa, writing more material on the road.[32] In September she based herself in Los Angeles to record her second album, On a Clear Night, with producer Mitchell Froom.[33][34] "Steer" was released as an EP, followed a fortnight later by its album on 28 April 2007, both debuted at No. 1 on their respective charts.[14]

In February, Higgins had contributed a tribute song to the album, Cannot Buy My Soul, for noted indigenous singer, Kev Carmody, singing "Droving Woman" with musician Paul Kelly and group Augie March.[35] On 7 July, she participated in the Live Earth concert in Sydney, performing her own set before joining Carmody, Kelly and vocalist John Butler on stage for the song "From Little Things Big Things Grow".[36] Emily Dunn in The Sydney Morning Herald wrote "[the song] could have been the event's anthem".[37] Rolling Stone's Dan Lander pointed out a highlight, when the "whole crowd sung along – all eleven verses."[38]

Higgins returned to Los Angeles to focus on the US market—she spent September and October touring—where she was still relatively unknown.[39] On 26 October, backed by the Sydney Youth Orchestra, she headlined the annual Legs 11 concert, a breast cancer benefit held in The Domain, Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney.[40] Two days later Higgins performed at the 2007 ARIAs where she was nominated for 'Best Pop Release', 'Highest Selling Album' and 'Highest Selling Single' (for "Steer") and won 'Best Female Artist' (for On a Clear Night)—her seventh ARIA Music Award.[41] On 31 October, she was a guest at television music channel MAX's inaugural Concert for the Cure, a private concert for people affected by breast cancer. She sang headline act Powderfinger's "Sunsets" with front man Bernard Fanning and joined in with the encore of "These Days".[42][43] She spent November and December on her For One Night Only Tour, taking in Cairns, Sydney and Perth. You Am I lead singer, Tim Rogers, joined her on some shows.[44]

On a Clear Night, was released in the US on 26 February 2008, supported by a tour in March. Her ten-month stay in Los Angeles during 2008 promoted her songs for films and television shows.[33][45] Her first US single "Where I Stood" was featured in US series including Grey's Anatomy, One Tree Hill and So You Think You Can Dance.[46] During 2008, Higgins supported the Indigo Girls and then Ben Folds on their respective US tours.[47] February and March 2009 saw her co-headlining a US tour with Canadian Justin Nozuka.[48] On 31 March she released an EP, More Than This in Australia featuring cover versions of "More Than This" by Roxy Music, "(I'm) In Love Again" by Peggy Lee, "Breakdown" by Tom Petty and "Moses" by Patty Griffin.[49] "Moses" had been included on Triple J's 2005 compilation album Like a Version: Volume One and "More Than This" was recorded as part of Covered, A Revolution in Sound, a Warner Bros. tribute album also released in March 2009.[50]

In January 2010 Higgins announced plans to perform in the 2010 revival of the Lilith Fair festival during July and August; at venues in Philadelphia, Boston, New York City, Hartford and Washington, D.C.[51]

Higgins' acting debut was as 'Annie' in 2010 film Bran Nue Dae directed by Rachel Perkins. The film is an adaptation of the 1990 musical, Bran Nue Dae, "Australia's first Aboriginal musical".[52] Although Higgins would consider future acting projects she has no plans to actively pursue it as a career.[53][54]

Personal life

As a vegetarian, Higgins promoted the health benefits of not eating meat in a 2005 advertising campaign by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA);[55] and has supported their anti-fur stance.[45] She is interested in environmental issues and is involved with the Sierra Club, a grassroots organisation based in California.[45] She has protested against the proposed industrialisation of the Kimberley region of Western Australia and donated the royalties from her 2009 EP More Than This.[49] Since early 2007, Higgins has tried to make her tours carbon neutral, she purchases green energy to power venues, uses hybrid cars where possible and purchases carbon offsets.[56]

From 2004 to 2007, Higgins' sexual orientation was the subject of media speculation based partly on interpretations of her lyrics and her interviews.[A] In an October 2007 interview with Australian lesbian magazine Cherrie, she was asked if she fell under the moniker of "not-so-straight" girls. She replied "Um, yeah, definitely. [...] I think sexuality is a fluid thing and it's becoming increasingly more acceptable to admit that you're that way."[57] Her MySpace page reported, "I’ve been in relationships with both men and women so I guess I fall most easily under the category 'Bisexual'" in November.[58] She went on to say that she wanted future interviews to focus on her music rather than her sexuality. In a March 2008 interview with AfterEllen.com, Higgins said that her song "Secret" was written about an ex-girlfriend who was not comfortable, at first, about going public with their relationship; "I was so head over heels in love with her I kind of wanted to shout it out to the world, so it was just a song about keeping something under the covers [...] keeping it away locked in a little room."[59]

Higgins has been a patron of Australian mental health charity One in Five since 2003.[60] She described her younger self as "a bit of a depressed child" and "introverted", and that she had "experienced various degrees of depression".[13][61] Prescribed antidepressant medication while in high school, she learned to channel low moods into song writing, calling music her "emotional outlet".[2][62] In a 2006 interview she said that her songs were "coming from more of a happier place".[63] While recording her second album she discovered a passion for rock climbing, as a "meditative pursuit"[64] and that, "It's the first thing I've had—other than music—that I'm passionate about."[62]

Musical influences and technique

Higgins grew up in the 1980s and 1990s listening to artists that her older siblings liked—Nicola played Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston, while David favoured Queen and Kiss.[62][65] Departing for boarding school at age 13, she was exposed to alternative artists like Nirvana and Courtney Love and started teaching herself guitar and writing her own music.[65] She also began singing with David's jazz group on weekends. As an adult she prefers Nina Simone and Ray Charles to "poppy dance music".[65] She has cited Patty Griffin, Ron Sexsmith, Rufus Wainwright and Paul Kelly as influences.[4][54] Higgins started writing for her third album in 2009, the material is influenced by ambient music from Low, Jon Hopkins, Icelandic band Sigur Rós and Estonian classical composer Arvo Pärt.[54] As from March 2010, the album has not been released.

Higgins' song writing grew out of a desire to express her emotions when she was at school and her lyrics describe her feelings about her own life and relationships.[66][67] The piano was the first instrument she learned to play, and she continues to use it as well as digital pianos including a Roland RD-300SX, RD-700 and KR-15.[68][69] She also uses guitars extensively in her music particularly when touring, due to their portable nature and favours the Australian brand, Maton.[69] On occasion she plays xylophone and melodica during performances.[31][70]

Discography

Filmography

Awards

Higgins has won seven ARIA Music Awards from nineteen nominations.[71] She has won two APRA Awards for songwriting and an MTV Australia Video Music Award.[24][26]

  • 2004 ARIA Awards, Best Pop Release for "Scar"
  • 2005 MTV Australia Video Music Awards, Breakthrough Artist of the Year
  • 2005 APRA Awards, Breakthrough Award for "Scar"
  • 2005 APRA Awards, Song of the Year for "Scar"
  • 2005 ARIA Awards, Breakthrough Artist – Album for The Sound of White
  • 2005 ARIA Awards, Best Pop Release for The Sound of White
  • 2005 ARIA Awards, Highest Selling Album for The Sound of White
  • 2005 ARIA Awards, Best Female Artist for The Sound of White
  • 2005 ARIA Awards, Album of the Year for The Sound of White
  • 2007 ARIA Awards, Best Female Artist for On a Clear Night

Notes

  1. ^ Prior to an October 2007 Cherrie interview in which Higgins acknowledged not being heterosexual, references to speculation about her sexual orientation included "One of the mysteries that people do wonder about ... is her sexuality" (Zuel, 2005),[9] "[t]here's also plenty of speculation about Higgins' sexuality" (Adams, April 2007),[66] and "[s]he seems nonchalant about people speculating on her sexuality" (Sams, June 2007).[64] In a June 2007 interview Higgins commented "I've said a few risque comments in interviews about bisexuality."[64] After Higgins' Cherrie interview, Jay Savage said that she had "ended years of speculation about her sexuality".[72]

References

General
Specific
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External links


Simple English

Missy Higgins
File:Missy
Missy Higgins at Live Earth in 2007
Background information
Birth name Melissa Morrison Higgins
Also known as 19 August 1983
Origin Melbourne, Australia
Genres Pop, folk, acoustic
Occupations Singing, songwriting
Instruments Piano, guitar
Years active 2001 to present
Labels Eleven (part of EMI)
Website http://www.missyhiggins.com/

Missy Higgins (born Melissa Morrison Higgins on 19 August 1983) is an Australian singer and songwriter. She has released two very popular albums in Australia; The Sound of White and On a Clear Night.

Biography

Early life and work

Higgins was born in Melbourne, Australia. She was a student at Geelong Grammar School. Most of her spare time at the school was spent in a music room, playing the piano. When she was 15 years old, she wrote a song called "All for Believing" that got an "A" in a school assignment. The next year, Higgins went to a record label, but was denied because she had not written any other songs. She began writing new songs. In the meantime, her sister sent "All for Believing" to Triple J, and it won an "Unearthed" competition. Because of this, record labels Sony and EMI both contacted her. Higgins chose "Eleven", a part of EMI.[1][2][3]

References

  1. Johnny Loftus. Missy Higgins > Overview. Allmusic. Accessed 23 August 2008.
  2. Britt Smith (22 July 2007). Missy Higgins to perform in Geelong. Geelong Advertiser. Accessed 23 August 2008.
  3. Bernard Zuel (11 September 2004). School of rock. The Sydney Morning Herald. Accessed 23 August 2008.








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