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Ella Hooper has always loved playing in Daylesford and Hepburn Springs. She says, she has ‘had some great gigs’. Her next show on on Saturday evening on November 5th at the Palais in Hepburn Springs is part of her ‘Old News Tour’ that includes 17 shows around the country from Western Australia through to South Australia and Victoria.

Her latest album, ‘Small Town Temple’ takes her back to those early days. Small Town Temple is all about going back to her roots in Violet Town where Hooper grew up with her parents and her brother Jessie. Together with Jessie she started the hugely successful band ‘Killing Heidi’ in the 1990s. She wrote the songs for the album at her parents house, a ‘little church on the outskirts of town’. Her parents play cameos at the beginning and the end of the Album.

Her current single, ‘Words like These’ is the third from the ‘Small Town Temple’ album which comes out in January. ‘Old News’ the name of the current tour was the first song followed by Achilies Heal.

Hooper says being discovered by Triple J when she was 13 was a major turning point in her life. She scored her first number one with the single ‘Mascara’ on her 17th birthday. And at 18, she became the first woman to be awarded APRA’s Songwriter of the Year.

She doesn’t regret the excitement of her teens, but looking back she might have wanted a bit more time as a teenager. After the spectacular early success of Killing Heidi, she developed a strong solo career. After nearly 25 years as a writer, musician and performer, the last three years have been another inflection point.

Hooper moved back to Violet Town in 2019 to sort out her life – ironically just before COVID. She stayed with her mother in a 100 year old weather board church ‘plonked down’ in field on the outskirts of town. She says, the church has fabulous acoustics and there was a great vibe around her mother and the diverse community of Violet Town where she has a number of friends and fond memories.

COVID was a mixed blessing. It gave Hooper time to reflect on her life and concentrate on writing and producing ‘Small Town Temple’ – a name inspired by her mother’s church. It gave here a chance to be grounded and produce an album she is proud of.  But it was also a period of great sadness. Both her parents died of cancer recently. As for many others, COVID affected the funerals and wakes that followed.

Paradoxically, the ‘Old News’ tour is a new beginning and Hooper is looking forward to the release of the album and interesting collaboration projects next year.