A SMALL band of children is singing on stage in front of more than 300 people in Townsville.
They haven't had long to practise and the only group rehearsal was a fortnight ago at a remote service station.
Despite this, there's barely a dry eye at the Isolated Children's Parents Association (ICPA) Queensland state conference.
Performing alongside musician Josh Arnold, the children are here to launch the ICPA's new song, Life of a Country Kid.
Josh attended the organisation's conference in Toowoomba last year to introduce his Small Town Culture music project that delivers life lessons through writing music and singing in rural areas.
When ICPA members heard Life of a Country Kid, written by year three students at St Patrick's Primary School in St George, they asked if it could be adopted as the ICPA's anthem.
The song made its debut into the country music charts, racing to number 28 - one below Tim McGraw.
Expressive, easy-going and funny, Josh's rapport with students has enabled extraordinary things to unfold since he began working in schools four years ago.
Josh hit the country music scene in 2002 when he won a Golden Guitar at the Tamworth Country Music Awards.
After three successful albums and his songs played on the popular TV shows Home and Away, Neighbours and the American Ghost Whisperer, he found himself, by chance, working in schools.
"A friend asked me if I'd like to work with students to create original music from their ideas and stories," he said.
"While I didn't plan to work in education, with a young family and not really enjoying touring, it seemed like a good idea.
"Now, four years down the track, I am totally passionate about working with country kids.
"The big reward is watching the transition from shy bush kids to confident, eager music writers and performers."
Raised on a property near Tara, Josh returned a few years ago to record a CD for a centenary project.
"I met some people from the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) who were looking for projects they'd like to support to help inspire kids from regional areas," Josh said.
"They thought Small Town Culture was a good idea and got behind me."
Since then, Small Town Culture has been supported by USQ, Regional Arts Development Fund, councils, schools, and parents and citizens associations.
Based in Toowoomba, Josh held workshops in schools to help students write about whatever the class was studying, such as dinosaurs or bushrangers.
Then he began travelling to Queensland's south-west and the stories created became more about the children's lives.
"I realised they had their own authentic stories and didn't need to draw on anything else.
"Making music together brings about camaraderie, teamwork and lasting bonds.
"Every student gains a wonderful sense of pride and achievement.
"They are the ones who live it and I help them tell their stories."
Josh's wife Natasha and their three primary school-aged children are a big part of Josh's journey.
"Natasha runs the social-media side and they all come out to bush schools with me - it's a great experience for us all."
When the Thargomindah Regional Council wanted a promotional video, Josh wrote the song Life in Thargomindah, which became the first video production with a school involved.
From there the video side took off.
"It's almost an expectation now when I go to a school - the kids want to make their own video clip," he said.
"Given the opportunity, some really stand up. When they get together, they lose their inhibitions and perform whole-heartedly.
"It can be a life-changing experience."
Working with his home community in Tara has been a highlight for him.
"It's a tough community there and the kids didn't want to perform at first.
"But not long down the track, there they were, singing on ABC's Landline program. That was one of the proudest moments for me."
Running music camps for musically talented bush kids has also been a high point.
"I'm excited about running music camps and opening pathways -not just for country kids, but kids in metropolitan areas.
"Taking a couple of city kids to the bush will allow them experience and learn about it while making music, and through this we can build an exciting country city connection.
"There is so much we can do."