Budding musician meets John Butler after winning Fairbridge Festival competition

Saahli Jewel (middle) with the Fairbridge Festival Quest youth songwriting competition judges.
Saahli Jewel (middle) with the Fairbridge Festival Quest youth songwriting competition judges.

NOT many 14-year-olds can claim they have John Butler’s seal of approval, but Saahli-Jewel Kukulj-Hetherington can.

The Byford Secondary College student earned a workshop with the renowned musician after she won the Fairbridge Festival Quest youth songwriting competition.

Kukulj-Hetherington, who also won a spot on the Fairbridge Festival line-up as part of the competition, said it was both daunting and thrilling playing her music for Butler.

“It was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had, to meet John on the day I performed at the festival,” she said.

“I was nervous because I had to play him one of my songs, but he gave me a really good opportunity and I’m really lucky.”

After learning guitar when she was in Year 3, Kukulj-Hetherington said she always knew she wanted to make her passion for contemporary folk music her career.

“I’ve participated in Kelmscott Idol and when I was 10, I wrote my first song, which helped express emotions I couldn’t say to anyone else about my mum and dad splitting up,” she said.

Her quest to further her career will be boosted by three free WAM Song of the Year entries and the opportunity for a deal with Perfect Pitch Publishing she won as part of the songwriting competition.