WAKING up in regional Victoria, vocalist and music teacher Claire O'Connell always takes a minute to centre herself.
After six lockdowns and myriad reincarnations of the Border Bubble, O'Connell said she had to recalibrate or adjust her settings before starting the day.
"Sometimes it takes a moment to think where are we up to in Victoria today," she quipped.
But the Rutherglen-based musician has made the most of a challenging time for the arts and entertainment sector, generating two albums over the course of the global pandemic.
Her second album, That Woman Is Me, will be launched at Bundalong in late spring.
O'Connell said the new 10-track album was a personal reflection of her time at this point in history.
"It deals with freedom, strength, darkness and empowering people," she said.
"It's a really personal album.
"I wrote it during May; a week after I'd released my first album (Love In Lockdown).
"I learnt so much doing the first album that it was far simpler the second time around."
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Having worked online with international artists on her first album, O'Connell said she relished that process again.
Last time she collaborated with a Nashville band, who provided backing to her vocals, while her voice was matched to instruments including a Brazilian piano player.
"This time I worked with the musicians from Brazil and Nashville and some new ones from Italy and the UK."
With gigs on hold and vocal lessons done online, O'Connell said the albums allowed her to focus on other creative ventures.
"They've really kept me motivated through the year," O'Connell said.
"I will still do a virtual launch even if the event can't go ahead in November because of a lockdown."
As a teenager, O'Connell nurtured her love of music at Wangaratta High School before working in Melbourne as a soloist and with bands for six years. She moved to the United Kingdom in 2011 to pursue her career before shifting back to the North East two years later.
O'Connell will launch her second album at a private function at Bundalong on November 13.
It will be livestreamed via O'Connell's Facebook and Instagram accounts.
CDs will be available at the album launch and the songs will be on Spotify and all streaming platforms.
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