Global showcase for Griffith pop music student

Michelle Obama will showcase a song by Griffith music student Cat Gallagher as part of the Better Make Room initiative.

The former First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, will showcase a song written by Griffith University popular music student Cat Gallagher as part of her annual College Sign Up Day campaign.

Penned for an online collaborative project between music students from the Queensland Conservatorium and Vanderbilt College in the US, the song will be featured on Mrs Obama’s social platforms to mark National College Signing Day on 1 May.

Mrs Obama launched the signing day celebrations in 2014 as part of her Better Make Room initiative to encourage students to pursue higher education.

Her social accounts have more than 80 million followers — giving the young songwriter a remarkable platform for her work.

A series of student performances will feature alongside world-famous acts like Conan O’Brien, The Weeknd and Kelly Rowland.

“I got a call out of the blue, and just couldn’t believe it,” she said.

“This song is very close to my heart, so to be able to share it with the world is incredible.

“This is a massive opportunity for me to reach out to a global audience and expand my musical community.”

Popular Music student Cat Gallagher

During COVID lockdowns last year, a number of Queensland Conservatorium popular music students collaborated with their peers across the globe, creating new music with singer-songwriters at the Vanderbilt College Blair School of Music in Nashville.

Third-year Bachelor of Music student Cat Gallagher co-wrote a soaring gospel and soul infused song about overcoming struggle and heartbreak — a message that might resonate with millions of people around the globe who had their lives upended by COVID.

“Her Troubles, His Pain” was a joint effort between Cat and Cam Robinson, a human resources and organizational development major at Vanderbilt College. The track was mixed by fellow popular music student Liam Brimble.

“We both love gospel and soul music, so straight away we had that connection,” she said.

Griffith student Cat Gallagher and Vanderbilt University student Cam Robinson

“It was a great chance to learn from each other, and I think we came up with something really special.”

The Honours College student said creating original songs during pandemic was a chance to put into practice the songwriting and studio skills taught in the popular music course.

“For me, it was a great chance to take what we’ve been learning over the past couple of years, and take it for a test drive,” she said.

“I’ve never collaborated online before, and we were on different time zones, from completely different worlds, writing to pretty intense deadlines, but music was always the middle ground.”

Popular Music lecturer Caleb James

Popular Music lecturer Caleb James said the inaugural cross-continental opportunity had exceeded all expectations.

“It was supposed to happen in-person, with a contingent of our students heading to Nashville,” he said.

“When COVID hit, we had to move it online, but despite the challenges, we couldn’t be prouder of the results.

“The whole of the Con is built on musical collaboration, because that’s how the industry works.

“We have been blown away by the success of this first collaboration and are planning for this to become an annual project.”

The College Signing Day concert will be livestreamed on YouTube this weekend.