All about the girl: Singer Milly B will perform songs written by women as part of 'Femme Persuasion' tomorrow night


Transforming the ambience of a space is Milly Begley’s magic power.

Armed with her guitar and smooth folky vocals, adding warmth to a room is what keeps the Rotorua-born Queenstown singer hooked on performing intimate acoustic shows.

It’s the little details that go into creating an atmosphere that give her a buzz, she says.
‘‘I really enjoy it because I know that live music really does enhance and add to an ambience and I like to try and contribute a real warmth and connectivity and a relaxing, easy vibe.’’

This was a passion learned in childhood — Begley was raised by a musical mother in a household constantly filled with live music and jam sessions.

‘‘I grew up with music all around and was always singing with my mum, I just loved singing as a child and through my teens.’’

Teaching herself guitar at age 17, she began busking and performing at markets before taking on functions and weddings — her ‘‘mostly folk with a bit of soul and maybe a hint of jazziness’’ sound the perfect addition to celebrations.

‘‘Normally I try for background, ambient acoustic music while people are having their wedding celebrations, I walk people down the aisle with music which I really enjoy … or intimate gatherings, I love creating a warm social space.’’

But as part of New Zealand Music Month, Begley, who performs as Milly B, is set to take centre stage alongside Melbourne-raised singer Taylor Dossetor at the recently-opened Te Atamira as part of a set dubbed ‘Femme Persuasion’.

Inspired by an eclectic taste in music and drawn to ‘‘the old kind of singers’’ such as Ricky Lee Jones, Sade and Tracy Chapman, Begley will both pay homage to and reinterpret songs exploring the female experience, with a few of her own compositions scattered in.

‘‘I particularly like singing songs written by women.

‘‘I feel like some of these songs, they’re my songs and I really relate to what they’re saying and I really appreciate them [female musicians] having the courage and mojo to put their work out there,’’ she says.

Acknowledging the world of female artists has historically been neglected, she wants to give more voice to the feminine perspective with a touch of her trademark warmth.

‘‘Hopefully the night will be reminiscent of women’s songs from the past and a pleasant evening of femaleness,’’ she says.

Not only a regular face on the music scene, Begley has been working her magic throughout Queenstown’s creative community for 25 years as an accomplished visual artist and costume designer.

She is also the director of performance art business Flame Entertainment which regularly features interactive entertainment such as fire dancers, aerialists and improvised theatre at local festivals and events.

‘‘I’m just grateful that I can live a life and make a living from art, from the creativity and the many ways it is expressed and has come through in me,’’ she says.

Milly B and Taylor Dossetor: ‘Femme Persuasion’, tomorrow, 7pm, Te Atamira. Tickets $16, via