HORSHAM'S Carols by Candlelight will shine a little brighter this year with Australian singer Silvie Paladino set to perform at Sunday's event.
Speaking to the Mail-Times, Ms Paladino said she was no stranger to carols. This year will mark her 22nd performance at the Melbourne Carols by Candlelight.
"I did my first Melbourne carols when I was 16 and in those days we sung three songs - now we're lucky if we get two. I didn't do carols for many years after that but this year will be my 19th in a row; it's one of the best gigs I've ever done. That and the AFL Grand Final," she said.
Growing up in a "humble" Italian family in Melbourne, a career on the stage was never something Ms Paladino aspired to as a child.
"When I was about eight, my uncle suggested I start singing lessons because he thought I had a good voice. As a child it was never my aspiration to be on stage, it was just something I liked to do and was naturally good at," she said.
"When I was 12 I got into a band and we'd perform at weddings. That was great because I was able to get some pocket money. It wasn't until I was 15, and won Young Talent Time and the Italian Song Festival that I realised I could actually do this as a job.
"Up until then I wanted to be a hairdresser because I was terrible at school. I don't think I chose singing, rather it chose me."
Although she initially performed contemporary music from the likes of Whitney Houston and Barbra Streisand, her love for musical theatre was ignited when she landed the role of Eponine in Les Miserables at the age of 18.
"I didn't even know what Les Miserables was and I had never even been to the theatre before. It came out of the blue," she said.
"It was pretty scary, but when you're that age you take it in your stride. I had nothing to lose and just went for it. I had a bravery that I probably don't have now.
"I performed with Anthony Warlow, Marina Prior, Peter Cousens and Rob Guest - it was a dream cast. I spent four-and-a-half years of my life doing Les Miserables; two years was as Eponine and two years was as Fantine. I was also blessed to be in London's West End doing that show."
She said another musical theatre highlight was playing Donna in Mamma Mia! during the show's first Australian tour.
"I joined the cast in Adelaide after the performer who was playing Donna had to leave," she said.
"They had to find a replacement very quickly. I had a two week rehearsal period and then I was on stage. It was crazy and exhausting, but it was incredible.
"I'm really so blessed that I got into theatre because I just loved it. Even though I'm not doing a musicals all the time, it's that style of music that I gravitate towards now."
She said Christmas was a special time for her.
"The audience at carols is there to enjoy themselves and celebrate the Christmas spirit," she said.
"My favourite Christmas carol is O Holy Night, which I've performed twice now at the Melbourne carols. It's a pretty epic carol that really rings true to me. God is a massive part of my life so it's great to be able to share in that message at Christmastime."
The Horsham Carols by Candlelight will be at Sawyer Park on Sunday, December 1. Activities will start at 5.30pm, while the program will start at 7.30pm. The show will close with a fireworks display at 9.30pm.
Donations raised at this year's event will go to mental health charity The Naked Farmer, run by St Helens Plains farmer Ben Brooksby.
Ms Paladino said she was thrilled to share the Christmas spirit with Horsham residents.
"I think I'm performing nine songs at Horsham; the audience will get a real variety of songs," she said.
"It's important to get out to all the communities, not just to large cities. Everyone needs to hear about the Christmas message and what it represents.
"I'm a basic, humble Italian girl. My parents were migrants in the 50s, and I just love what I do and feel blessed to be able to do this as a job."
She will next perform a Christmas concert on December 20 at Melbourne's Athenaeum Theatre with a 50 piece orchestra and choir. Next year she will join Menopause the Musical which will travel to Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide and Perth.
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