A timely effort today from the Queensland Music Festival, which has just announced it inaugural Songs That Made Me initiative, a mentorship program that will help to support emerging female artists as they seek to break into the Australian music industry.

Named after Noonan’s record of the same name, the new program will see her working alongside respected Australian musicians including ARIA-winners Claire Bowditch and Deborah Conway and Grant McLennan Fellowship winner Hannah Macklin as they set about working with emerging female singer-songwriters from the regional areas of Mount Isa, Gladstone and Mackay to encourage their efforts and nurture their careers.

The initiative was announced in a press conference yesterday by the Minister for Women Shannon Fentiman and the festival’s artistic director Katie Noonan, held in conjunction with Queensland Women’s Week and International Women’s Day, which takes place today, Wednesday March 8th.

Noonan explained that official APRA/AMCOS statistics show a clear discrepancy in the ratio of male to female singer-songwriters, with women comprising only 21 percent of its members.

“As we celebrate the state’s second ever Queensland Women’s Week and on the eve of International Women’s Day, it is essential opportunities such as Songs That Made Me are provided to female artists,” Fentiman added. “Katie Noonan’s vision of providing our community with a voice through music is inspiring.”

The regional hubs will be overseen by Megan Sarmardin, Kristin Berardi and Hayley Marsten, who will be taking the reins in helping artists in their creative pursuits, as well as in developing the skills in business needed to pursue a career as a solo performer.

The program will also see its artists encouraged to take part in a series of local concerts being run by Songs That Made Me throughout July, before a final collaborative show at Brisbane’s Tivoli theatre on July 16.

Aspiring musicians from the participating areas can be submit their entries here from today until Friday May 19, and a selection of artists will be chosen for the program by the end of the month. Entrants of all ages are welcome, and the program hopes to expand its reach in coming months and years, opening it up to women scross Queensland.

“I am committed to continuing Queensland Music Festival’s mission to transform lives through music and am particularly passionate about empowering female musicians,” Noonan said. “I hope Songs That Made Me will help launch the careers of talented artists from regional Queensland.”