By Cam Lucadou-Wells
There’s a powerful synergy between prolific singer-writers Andrea Marr and John McNamara.
When they brought their soulful voices together, it was like a blues ‘match in heaven’.
Such is their magic, their act The McnaMarr Project was only early in its inception when it won its way to the world’s biggest blues competitions, the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, USA .
The pair were still writing their songs while waiting backstage during qualifying.
They are one of seven Australian bands invited to the challenge on 22-26 January.
“I was gobsmacked (to win qualifying),” Ms Marr, of Springvale, said.
“We were very undercooked. I thought it must prove we’re supposed to be together.”
The pair had joined forces only seven months ago at the behest of their publicist, who described them as the “male and female of each other”.
Separately both have written chart-stopping blues hits in the US and Australia.
“We got feedback from the whole blues community that we’re perfect for each other.
“Since I’ve been singing, I’ve never blended with another voice like with John.
“We write in the same keys, with the same feels.”
Growing up in Sri Lanka, her parents were steeped in music – her father as a singer and bass guitarist, her mother singing in church choirs.
Ms Marr has been on stage since she was three years old. But she wasn’t exposed to blues to much later on.
“Then I realised the DNA of the music was so me.
“That was exactly what I had been doing.”
For the past 25 years, she has run the Andrea Marr Music School in Springvale.
She is proud that one of her school’s proteges Charlie Bedford has been invited to the Memphis event’s youth showcase.
At the Challenge, 250 blues acts will be battling for supremacy as well as jamming together every night.
Before the event, Ms Marr is teaming up with blueswomen from around the world for a blockbuster show.
“It’s incredible. It’s a big honour – it’s the best of the world in one place.
“It’s just magic for a musician.”