WHEN Amy Montgomery's mother committed suicide three years ago it understandably devastated the then 16-year-old.
Montgomery's mother, Christine, had been her greatest supporter. The one who urged the Northern Ireland songstress to develop her powerful voice, which is often compared to the legendary Janis Joplin.
"My mum was the main catalyst for shaping me into a performer," Montgomery said. "She would urge me to sing everywhere I went, and I mean everywhere.
"Taxis, buses, trains, toilets, restaurants, shops, streets, parks, you name it, she made me sing there. She had complete belief in me, that I would go far with music."
Just a week after Christine's death, Montgomery dedicated her song Escape From Reality to her mum in a Belfast talent show semi-final. Ever since, Montgomery has continued to channel her grief into music.
"The tragedy of my mum's death has taught me so much," she said. "It has opened up a vulnerable place inside me that was never there before.
"This can create so many different emotions within oneself. Where anger and sadness once lay deep within my soul for a while, there now lies gratitude, compassion and empathy. Music was and is my healer. You shouldn't depend on anything for your life, but I depend on music more than anything."
Montgomery's music is an explosive mix of blues, folk and alt-rock which is influenced by her love of everything from meditative music, to Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath to LCD Soundsystem to her hero Alanis Morissette.
Last year she released her debut single Dangerous, which begins as a gentle folk tune, before igniting into an epic rock number complete with moody strings and Montgomery's soaring vocals.
Dangerous was followed by the singles Constitution and Tree Song (Branch Out & Nourish My Veins). The latter earned her a nomination for best single in the Northern Irish Music Prize.
The 20-year-old's force-of nature live performances at festivals throughout the UK, including a debut at Glastonbury in June, also caught the attention of Hunter Valley troubadour William Crighton.
Crighton heard about Montgomery's music at the UK's Black Deer Festival and invited her over social media to accompany him on tour in Australia, which includes an appearance at Dashville Skyline in Lower Belford on October 5. The pair are yet to formally meet.
Montgomery will be an unusual fit among the alt-country and Americana vibe of Skyline, but her powerhouse vocal is impossible to ignore.
"I have come to really love playing at festivals where the core genre isn't what I do," Montgomery said. "I think it's quite difficult to place my music into a category.
"It definitely has elements of folk, blues, rock and sometimes dance. But simultaneously it is none of those. I will bring something positive to Dashville Skyline, coming all the way from my soul."
The fifth Dashville Skyline returns to Lower Belford from October 4 to 6.