Debut EP Launch for Songbird Layla Havana ‘Beneath The Surface’

Layla Havana is an artist to watch. At only 14 years of age, this Sunshine Coast First Nations songbird is set to release her debut EP ‘Beneath The Surface’ on Friday 1 September, followed by a performance at Sunshine Sounds Festival in Eumundi the next day.

Layla is a young artist with an old spirit. Her style of songwriting comes from her heart and soul, and her voice has a truly unique sound. Paired with the honesty of her lyrics, she can move her audience emotionally – remarkable at such a young age.

Layla’s musical journey started singing in 2020 when she was accepted into the Eumundi School of Music program, where she discovered a love for performing on stage. Those who heard the then 11-year-old sing, knew they’d heard something special.

Layla has since been mentored by musical super-couple five-time ARIA and AIR, AWMA and APRA Award-winning singer songwriter Katie Noonan and her ARIA and National Jazz Award winning saxophonist/composer/producer extraordinaire husband Zac Hurren.

In 2021 and 2022 Layla successfully auditioned and performed in Creative Generations State School Onstage, culminating in high-end productions televised nationally. She sang in English and First Nations languages, performing ‘Bapa‘ (Dr Gurrumul Yunupingu), ‘You’re The Voice’ (John Farnham/Mitch Tambo) and ‘My Island Home’ (Neil Murray/Warumpi Band).

The National Folk Festival 2022 was a highlight for Layla, performing a duet with iconic storyteller and healing song man Uncle Archie Roach (his last concert on Ngunnawal Country, Canberra). They opened the festival alongside the Phoenix Ensemble string quartet, Hauptmann Trio Band and the 250+ National Folk Festival Family Choir performing Archie’s song ‘Let Love Rule’. Layla was also awarded the Gill Rees Promising Young Musician Award at the festival.

Layla’s debut EP ‘Beneath The Surface’ features six original songs – heartfelt lyrics pared with her pure and super smooth vocals. Three of the songs were written by Layla, and three co-written with Zac Hurren.

“It all started with Katie suggesting that I should make an EP,” says Layla, who was awarded a RADF Grant through Sunshine Coast Council to help with production.

“I was blown away that Katie thought my original songs were worthy of being recorded!,” she says, with such humility and no real appreciation of just how talented she is.

“Over the past few months Zac Hurren and I have been co-writing and recording. We started with Zac making me feel comfortable in the studio by testing out various microphones and teaching me ways to record, which was all new to me. Zac is amazingly patient, so creative and always enthusiastic. He explains every detail, so I am learning the theory about recording, whilst also getting practical recording experience.

“Throughout the recording process we have been working hard but we also made time for heaps of fun. Zac and I have shared lots of laughs, lollies and we like to go on adventures to try and find the best donuts on the Sunny Coast!

“I have really enjoyed working with him and the other talented musicians who we worked with on the EP. The most exciting part has been hearing what all the other amazing musicians come up with for the songs. I had only ever heard my songs played and sung by me solo, but once the full band had recorded their parts into the tracks, the songs finally felt complete, and they sounded so cool.” Layla says.

The first single from the EP is ‘Bright New Day’ co-written by Layla Havana and Zac Hurren back when Layla was only 11 years of age. This is a song about life. We all know what it’s like to feel squashed by life’s challenges and sometimes we need to step out from the shadows and into the light. This is a song about the joy of choosing to live in simple glorious defiance. The exhilaration of our own courage and strength is waiting for us, just out of sight, in each and every moment.

“This song is about finding that inner strength and the beauty that lies all around us,” says Layla.  “We hope that people can see themselves in this song.”

“I really can’t wait for the EP launch with the band at Sunshine Sounds Festival. I really hope that the crowd enjoys my music and I’m excited that people can take home to my music on CDs or digitally.

Layla strives to follow in Katie Noonan’s footsteps and admires her music and tireless work ethic. One of the songs on the EP, and one she’ll be performing at Sunshine Sounds Festival, is ‘Kind Heart’ – expressing her appreciation and admiration for her mentor Katie.

She sings: “I’m yet to find a way to thank you for all you do. You are special and I strive to be just like you.”

Watch this space. Seems Layla is certainly taking the right steps.


For tickets to Sunshine Sounds Festival, visit



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