Expectant first-time mother wins lullaby competition for the Prime Minister

A competition to write a lullaby to be gifted to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, has been won by Chanelle Davis, a singer-songwriter expecting her first child in January.

Chanelle Davis
Chanelle Davis

The competition, run by Victoria University of Wellington’s New Zealand School of Music—Te Kōkī (NZSM), was open to all New Zealanders in celebration of Suffrage 125. Entrants were asked to write music to accompany the poem, A Lullaby—a satirical text written by New Zealand poet Thomas Bracken in 1892 on the theme of role reversal.

A panel of NZSM experts judging the competition said Ms Davis’s entry stood out because of the ‘gentleness, intimacy and simplicity of the lullaby’. It also has “a very musical and sing-able chorus, which will be encouraging for new parents,” says Associate Professor of Music Therapy Sarah Hoskyns.

Ms Davis, who won the APRA Best Children’s Music Song in 2013, says she really enjoyed setting Thomas Bracken's poem to music.

“It was nice to have half of the work done already! I played my first attempt to my husband and he told me it sounded sad. I was offended for about a minute, and then went back to the drawing board. I'm expecting my first baby in January, so I definitely felt in the zone to write a lullaby.”

Associate Professor Hoskyns says music is vital for children as they are growing up. “Hearing a lullaby sung with warmth, intimacy and playfulness in the arms of a parent, is the start of this,” she says.

Ms Davis will perform her winning lullaby at the Suffrage Songs Recomposed concert at Hannah Playhouse in Wellington on Sunday 14 October. The concert is being held as part of the NZSM’s weeklong festival—Music From Her—celebrating women and music in Aotearoa.

Ms Davis’s winning composition is a gift to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, and can be viewed below.

For more information contact Alix Chapman on 04-463 6908 or alix.chapman@vuw.ac.nz