Interview: Mahalia Barnes

Mahalia Barnes, of ‘The Tin Lids’, and lots more recently ‘The Voice (Australia)’ is out playing shows across the countryside at the moment as the Mahalia in Mahalia Barnes + The Soul Mates. Before the end of August she will be playing three shows in South Australia, the Festival State, over the Father’s Day weekend, information about the shows can be found at the end of the interview.

In the lead up to these shows I had the pleasure of asking Mahalia some questions about her career so if you would like to get a little more insight into Mahalia Barnes you will find it right here.

Your music career started extremely early, can you tell us a bit about ‘The Tin Lids’?

It was a lot of fun, we were just kids. We recorded 3 albums, got to tour around the country. It was great.

Has there ever been anything you wanted to do apart from make music?


At one stage I wanted to be an olympic swimmer, and the only other thing I’ve ever wanted to do (I still want to) is cook!

Can you tell us a little about Mahalia Barnes + The Soul Mates and how you got together?

The line-up has changed a little, but basically it’s a combination of friends/musos who all love soul music. The first album (Volume 1) was over 4 years ago now, but the band has been playing together in various formats and different bands for around 10 years. The band is Dave Hibbard, Ben Rodgers, Franco Raggatt and Rob Woolf, and when possible we are joined by Lachlan Doley.

How would you describe your style?

Soul, blues, rock. It’s honest, organic, raw and heartfelt. We play a bunch of old favourites and a whole bunch of originals…basically we love what we do and play what we feel, which can change every night!

What is your career highlight to date?

My career has been amazing so far. I’ve been really lucky, I love to work and I have managed to keep busy doing all sorts of gigs! I love being able to do all different shows. I think working on the motown 50th anniversary show was a highlight, I got to sing with the Four Tops, The Supremes, The Miracles and more… But another huge highlight for me was singing for the Cold Chisel rehearsals before the last lot of shows they did! Dad was busy, so I filled in for a couple of the rehearsals!! Awesome!

mahalia barnes

You recently competed on the first series of The Voice (Australia), can you tell us a little about your experience on the show?

I really enjoyed my short time on the show. I met great people, got to sing in front of millions of viewers, received so much encouragement and positive feedback. I certainly don’t have any regrets!

What’s the most valuable thing you walked away from the show with?

The support of the audience. It meant so much to me that people rallied behind me, it really reassured me that I am doing the right thing! I love what I do and I always sing from the heart, so I am really glad that people responded to it!

What inspires your songwriting?

My family, especially my daughter Ruby and husband Ben, my friends, stories, experiences. I tend to write from personal experience or at least things I have seen happen around me. I like to feel what I sing, which is a lot easier when you have a personal connection.

Can you tell us a little about your latest EP ‘Volume 2’?

I am really proud of this record. I co-wrote all of the songs, and I love them! Little light is definitely a favourite, my husband and I wrote it with a great writer Jim Wright in the US. It is for our daughter Ruby.
We recorded the EP live to tape (like the old records we love) in about 3 days. It’s a bit heavier than the last album too.

Who has had the most influence on your musical style?

My dad’s influence is undeniable, but also the great soul singers of the 60’s and 70’s. Aretha, Tina Turner, Donny Hathaway, Mavis Staples, Stevie Wonder… if I had to pick one, I’d say Ike and Tina!

What can we expect if we head out to see you in South Australia across the Father’s Day Weekend?

A lot of heart, a bit of soul, a bit of rock, some songs you might know, some you might not… Lots of fun!

What does being a woman mean to you?

Women are amazing, becoming a mother really reaffirmed that. I am very proud to be a strong woman. I am not afraid to be sensitive and gentle, but I will fight for what I believe in and the ones I love!

Thank you so much for your time Mahalia and good luck for great sets across South Australia next week.

Show information:

Friday, August 31st
Coopers Alehouse
11 Heritage Drive, Wallaroo
Pre-sale $28, $33 at the door
For information & bookings call 08 8823 2488

Saturday, September 1st  
Norwood Live
Cnr The Parade & Osmond Tce, Norwood, SA.
Show Only $30+bf ($35 at the door)
Doors open 7.30pm
For Information & Bookings Ring The Norwood Hotel on (08) 8431 1822

Sunday, September 2nd at 4pm
Goolwa Aquatic Club, Foreshore
92 Barrage Rd, Goolwa, SA.
Tickets $30
For information & bookings call 08 8555 1243

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