When Chooka Parker took the stage at Australia’s Got Talent, he was so diffident I wasn’t sure what to expect. At the same time, he had a quiet confidence that belied his sixteen years. When he said he had nothing prepared and was just going to play whatever came into his head, I ratcheted down my expectations a few notches. After all, the country boy’s nearest community, Red Lion, doesn’t even have a pub, and the self-taught musician was nicknamed for the chickens (chooks) he’s always liked.
Then he sat down at the keyboard and poured his spirit right through his fingers and the electronic instrument and into the spirits of those listening. It was one of those classic “Talent” moments, when surprise and awe replace skepticism on the faces of audience and judges alike. Chooka didn’t look up from the keyboard until he ended his performance and received a standing ovation.
When one of the judges asked what he would do if he won the $250,000 grand prize, Chooka’s answer was classic. “Well, I want to buy a houseboat and live on the Murray with a piano and the houseboat and write music all me life.”
He was interviewed before his second performance and the now 17-year-old said, “I’m just a bloke who likes to be out by meself in the outback so going to the city with hundreds of people around me, it’s a bit different.”
Chooka somersaulted onto the stage and once again wowed the judges. He has become a media darling and will know July 19th if he’ll take home the prize. Sudden fame is not a comfortable fit for the shy teenager, but he appears to have the inner strength that will see him through any challenges that lie ahead.
And now his music is a gift to the world.