Born in Maryborough, Queensland, Cathy grew up having no intention of making music her career. Although piano lessons and singing in a junior choir began at the age of five and she brought a trumpet home at the age of 8 and joined brass and concert bands, her first love was horses.
An injury during her final year of secondary school ended her riding days so studying music at a tertiary level seemed a feasible option. She began her studies in Toowoomba at the D.D.I.A.E. entering a Dip. Creative Arts (Music) majoring in trumpet. Cathy graduated with a double major in Teaching and Performing and went on to obtain a Grad. Dip. Ed at the same institution, now known as the UCSQ. After working in the School of Arts in the Performance Centre for about a year, Cathy enrolled in a Music Administration program and a year later she graduated with a B. Creative Arts (Music Admin.). During her tertairy studies, Cathy was continually inspired by Professor Peter Rorke, who she credits for her work discipline, ethics and love of teaching,
Successfully applying for a job with the then-named ABC Concert Music was her ticket into the world of Arts Management. Her two years in Sydney as International Publicity Assistant led to further opportunities. During her second year, Cathy was seconded by the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra to act in various Management positions when people took leave. With a small staff of 8 running the Orchestra, it was excellent training and experience so when a position became vacant, Cathy applied, was successful and packed up to begin her Tasmanian Chapter.
Being the Concert Manager of the TSO was not so much a job but a way of life for Cathy. ‘It made my heart beat’, she confessed. Working with International and National conductors and soloists, organising orchestral tours and the day to day business of running the TSO, though incredibly busy and demanding work, was the most rewarding career for this young administrator.
On 28 April 1996, as part of her job, Cathy was at Port Arthur Historic Site with six members of the Australian Opera showing them some sights before leaving on a tour to regional VIC and NSW. This was the fateful afternoon when a gunman took the lives of 35 people, the Port Arthur Massacre. Fortunately Cathy and her six charges survived. Unfortunately, Cathy’s life would be changed and her Music began to disappear.
Thus began a journey of human decline, when her job was ‘permanent sick leave’ and her days and nights melded into a haze of medication and personal struggle. Then entered a large, 4 legged part of Australia’s history, also knocking on eternity’s door due to neglect, one of the last descendants of the original Walers (horses bred for WWI). Cathy and her new charge ‘Whale’ began a journey of recovery, relying on each other’s strength of character to conquer each new day. They ended up in Ballina and Cathy began a new life of rehabilitating racehorses.
So why barbershop, and what does all of the above have to do with it?
As part of Cathy’s rehabilitation, her Doctor gave her a choice-indoor cricket with him or singing with his wife. She chose the singing option. They say that singing heals the soul and this has proved to be correct in Cathy’s case. Through the love, care and support of the Headliners, Cathy’s “music” started to wake up and Barbershop…well, what a genre.
Cathy took up the role of Musical Director of The Headliners Chorus in 2009 after Jen Squires, the founding Director, moved to Perth.