Rory busks his way to national title

Ten-year-old Rory Phillips at the Australian National Busking Championships in Cooma.
Ten-year-old Rory Phillips at the Australian National Busking Championships in Cooma.

Tumut’s ten-year-old singer-songwriter sensation Rory Phillips has won the “Primary” category at the Australian National Busking Championships. It’s the second time Rory has entered the championships, coming in third last year.

This time round he beat the competition and took home the $300 that comes with first place. Rory also recently supported country music star Fanny Lumsden when she played in Tumbarumba on her ‘Country Halls’ tour.

She said that Rory’s age would never put her off having a talented artist share the bill.

“We were thrilled to have Rory on the Carabost Hall show!” she said. “We always like to try and have a local support open up the show… we have had some very young support acts over the last few years, there is so much young talent popping up everywhere so we love to have them part of the show.

“The show was fantastic! Sold out to start with, and just a fantastic example of a community coming together and putting on a good night. We also had people drive as far as from Melbourne for it! We actually moved to a farm between Tumbarumba and Corryong at the start of the year so it’s always fun to play in our home region.”

Rory Phillips with country music star Fanny Lumsden in Tumbarumba.
Rory Phillips with country music star Fanny Lumsden in Tumbarumba.

Rory’s mum Sam Phillips said the audience at the show couldn’t get enough of him.

“He played up there and the crowd went wild with him, he had all these young girls wanting to have selfies with him at the end,” she said.

“I think people are often shocked at how good he is – especially his guitar playing. I think a lot of kids his age can play a few basic chords but he’s quite a good guitarist.”

Rory is planning on keeping his momentum going. He travelled to the Blue Mountains in his most recent school holidays, to record an EP produced by the Bushwhackers’ Roger Corbett.

He’ll also be heading to Tamworth in January for the Tamworth Country Music Festival, following on from his stint at the Country Music Academy of Australia this year – their youngest graduate. (Rory was nine at the time.)

However, mum Sam Phillips said that despite his prodigious achievements, his time at the National Busking Championships shows he’s just all about playing music.

“He’s pretty excited to come away with a win, but he just loves performing anyway,” she said.

“He enjoyed catching up with people he’d met in previous years and listening to the other musicians – there was an open mic night afterwards in the pub and he got up and played with some other artists. He said he enjoyed that as much as the actual competition!

“It’s quite funny, especially people who don’t know him. Like in the pub in Cooma he walked in holding his guitar and put his name down from the open mic and people are like ‘look at the little fella, is he going to get up there? Good on him!’ you know. But then when he actually got up and played they’re like ‘oh, he’s really good!’”

“There’s no stopping him really, I’m just along for the ride.”

Rory has been playing guitar since he was six and singing since he was about eight, which is when he started co-writing songs with adults, like Tumut’s Ben Richards.

Keep up with his activities at