Jaybird Byrne soars to new heights

Published 6:00am 15 January 2024

Jaybird Byrne soars to new heights
Words by Kylie Knight

Guitarist Jaybird Byrne has had massive few months, playing at festivals, working on her debut EP and mesmerizing a crowd of 7000 people at Pub Choir before Christmas.

The 13-year-old from Narangba, who is supported by Team Musicare at Clontarf and managed by its founder Dan Nebe, has even caught the attention of legendary Queen guitarist Brian May.

A Tik Tok video of her playing Queen’s 1975 hit Bohemian Rhapsody now has close to three million views – one by May who had been tagged by countless music lovers urging him to take a look.

He responded with a ‘like’ and two emojis to show his approval.

Jaybird wowed a crowd of 7000 people with her rendition of the same song during Pub Choir at Brisbane’s Riverstage before Christmas.

The crowd sang part of the song, as she played, and gave her a roaring response when she finished. Most were in awe of her extraordinary talent and the ease with which she played the Queen hit.

Jaybird says it was the highlight of the past year for her.

“I think it was as awesome for me as it was for the crowd,” she says.

“I almost nearly cried at the end because that’s what Freddy would have wanted.”

See the video below

Busy end to the year

The Pub Choir performance followed performances at festivals including Valley Fiesta, Gympie Muster and Noosa Guitar Festival.

She has released two singles for her Dog Tales EP - Pups at Work and The Wolf - with two more to be released this year. The first of these, Golden Love, is due out at the end of February.

Next on the horizon is another EP which will be called My Eyes. It will allow Jaybird to express what it’s like to live with autism. She hopes to release it at the end of this year or early next year.

So, how will the 13-year-old balance her blossoming musical career with schoolwork and her team’s plan to ‘take it slow’.

Jaybird says she’s working with her mum Sam, who homeschools her, to achieve the balance.

The Year 9 student will complete the usual coursework of maths, English and science with electives in music and digital media.

Sam says Jaybird has a passion for 3D animation, designs her own album art and created her website. These are all projects she has been able to incorporate into her studies.

Jaybird says it’s hard to articulate what she has learnt as a musician this year, so her mum steps in.

“She’s learnt this is definitely what she wants to do. The bigger the crowd, the more at home she becomes,” Sam explains.

The response to her music on social media platforms has taken her a bit by surprise. She now has more than 10,000 followers on Tik Tok and 11,000 on Instagram.

Jaybird Byrne soars to new heights
Jaybird Byrne performs at Pub Choir December 2023 at Riverstage.

Born to play

It’s hard to believe she only started learning the instrument just over four years ago after a fall put a stop to artistic skating and she sought a new passion.

“Guitars had been around me for pretty much my entire life. My father played guitar. He is more of a hobbyist. It was hard not to pick it up when you had that exposure to it. I always had an exposure to music,” JayBird says.

She started noodling, experimenting, with the guitar and asked to have lessons.

JayBird cannot read music and instead plays by ear. She has perfect pitch.

“What I love about playing the guitar is … it’s sort of like a light in the darkness for me because I’ve got autism. It just always seems to be there whenever I’m feeling down. It’s been all sorts of things for me – it’s been a lifeline, it’s been a hobby and at the moment it’s my entire life,” she says.

“I’m trying to tell a story. My Eyes is going to be about my view of the world and my point of view when things go wrong.

“I think it’s going to be my best EP, so I’m very excited about that.”

Sam says it will be an emotional shift for Jaybird, exploring and expressing her feelings on a personal level.

Jaybird’s next performance is on February 3 at Team Musicare HQ, 48 Redcliffe Gardens Drive, Clontarf, from 6-9pm. During the show, she will premiere her single Golden Love. She will be joined by special guest Grace Alexandra. Tickets are $30+bf. Head to Oztix for details

To find out more, head to JayBird's website

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