When her musical mentor died suddenly, Toni Bird lost her champion, and her self-confidence with it. But thank goodness, she didn't give up.
Toni Bird set out to release an album five years ago when her co-writer, mentor and vocal coach died suddenly. "Sev passed away from a brain tumour. It all happened quite suddenly. That was quite a blow and I felt like he was always my cheerleader... and the person that always championed me and believed in me. I couldn't bring myself to do it without him. I just really lost all my confidence. I was really shaken up by that. I nearly stepped away from music altogether."
The EP was abandoned and had it not been for a phone call from Australian star guitarist Nathan Cavaleri Toni may not have stayed in music. She was invited to audition as a singer and was accepted into the touring fold. "I went on the road with them as a backing vocalist and toured with his band at the time."
It was on the road with Nathan and his band that Toni started regaining her confidence and realising how much she loved music. Until that point, music had always been a burning passion, but not a real adult job.
Toni grew up in Sydney with a passion to be a performer but like many aspiring artists, and encouraged by her family, felt like she should pursue a more sensible career. Toni studied law for a time, but music kept beckoning her name. Toni commenced vocal lessons with the David Jaanz School of Singing and it was this school that led her to her mentors and "musical parents" Connie and Sev Guiducci.
From the heart breaking loss of Sev in 2010 to touring with Nathan Cavaleri to regain her confidence, it's been a wild ride for Toni Bird. But she's still here. Still singing covers in various bands, pubs and bars, Toni finally started writing original music again. And as she sings in her new song, there's No Turning Back. The new single - a take-no-prisoners classic rock track which Toni simply and wonderfully wails on - is a part of another EP set for release later this year with her new band The Stonehearts.
Toni launched No Turning Back at The Brass Monkey Cronulla - not normally a rock venue - and the place was packed, despite being a Wednesday night. Toni was thrilled but says, "We hustled, we really hustled, and I was juggling [my day job] to make money too. I was working from sun up to 1am everyday [to make that night a success.]"
Despite the single launch success, Toni reflects on how her story serves as a reminder for just how hard this business is, and how success is built upon determination, and being in the right head space. "I've never expected any of it to be easy. I'm being totally vulnerable here - not one single part of this journey has been easy. Not just not easy, but it has been hard. Incredibly hard. You think you've got it all locked and loaded and then it turns on a dime. I've been learning and breaking out of my comfort zone not just once, not just twice, but time and time again."