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Melbourne's Gretta Ziller Marks First Artist Welcomed Into CMAA Nashville Exchange Program

12 May 2023 | 3:08 pm | Ellie Robinson

“I was an Academy graduate 10-plus years ago and attending was a pivotal moment in my musical journey.”

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Melbourne native Gretta Ziller has been announced as the first artist heading abroad for The CMAA Academy of Country Music’s inaugural Nashville Exchange Program.

As part of the scholarship program, Ziller will be flown over to the home of country music in Tennessee, where she’ll write, record and perform with some of the genre’s biggest names. One of her performances will be at this year’s AmericanaFest, which runs over September 19-23.

“I am over the moon to receive the CMAA Academy scholarship to attend AmericanaFest and song-write in Nashville,” Ziller said in a statement. “I was an Academy graduate 10-plus years ago and attending was a pivotal moment in my musical journey.”

The up-and-coming artist went on to say that she’d long dreamed of attending AmericanaFest, and being inducted into CMAA’s exchange program “has made it possible to both attend and given me a ‘leg up’ to pursue my songwriting goals”. She continued: “I applied because I wanted to work with an organisation I believed in to help achieve my wildest dreams.”

Ziller also noted that CMAA has been “a huge part of [her] journey in the music industry”, explaining: “I think no matter what music scene you’re in, having a course that is practical, encouraging and nurturing whilst allowing you to learn how to navigate the industry is invaluable. I know from my own experience, I went along not knowing a soul and came away with lifelong friends.”

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In a statement of his own, CMAA president and chair Dobe Newton said he’d been hoping to launch something like this – a “cultural exchange between Tamworth and Nashville” – for a whole decade. “With the help of the Tamworth Regional Council, Sister Cities Nashville, Sounds Australia, the newly-elected NSW Labor government and, most importantly, the support of Maton Australia, the dream will become a reality,” he said.

“One of our stellar Academy graduates will travel to Nashville at the time of the iconic AmericanaFest event in September 2023 to perform, co-write and network. They will be hosted by Sister Cities Nashville. In return, a promising US singer/songwriter will attend the 2024 Senior Academy in January and perform during the Tamworth Country Music Festival. They will be hosted by Tamworth Regional Council and the CMAA. A lot of people have worked hard in both markets to make this unique exchange possible. My thanks to them all.”

Maton’s involvement came by way of a donated guitar, which CMAA raffled off to fundraise for the initiative. "Building on our ongoing support of The Academy of Country Music in Tamworth, we have been delighted with the opportunity to play a part in supporting the artist exchange program, and tell the Australian story around the world,” Mark Mansour (head of marketing and artist relations at Maton Australia) said. 

“Maton Guitars has a long history with both Tamworth and Nashville, so this unique initiative makes perfect sense. Congratulations to Gretta Ziller, a wonderful Australian artist with a bright future.”

Ziller has thus far released two studio albums – Queen Of Boomtown in 2017 and Judas Tree in 2021 – and released the standalone single Ain’t Even Your Lover back in February of this year.