Despite usually being associated with America, country music is alive and well in Australia. The capital of Australian country music is undoubtedly in Tamworth, where artists regularly play throughout the year. This nation is a hub for up and coming singers as well as famous stars in this genre.
Australian and American Differences
American culture has spread across the world through music, movies and television. It should, therefore, come as no surprise that this culture has had an influence on Australian artists. The result is that sometimes they will sing about life experiences that are distinctly American, experiences they have never had themselves. Keith Urban is a good example of this trend. The lyrics of US influenced Australian country songs will talk about American life in order to appeal to this market.
However, in recent years, there has been a change in Aussie country so that it reflects their own culture and history more realistically. There is a greater emphasis on specific national identity. Other times the lyrics focus on more universal themes such as family, morality and crime.
Australia is the home of Aboriginal music. Country artists will sometimes blend this genre with country to create a distinctly Aussie hybrid. They will utilise traditional tribal instruments and mix them with western ones such as the electric guitar.
Another difference between the US and Aussie country is that in America, there is a clear distinction between country and folk. Their version of country is influenced by the rock and roll of the 1950s, as well as gospel. Whereas US folk rejects overproduced music and promotes a more “stripped back” sound. However, in Australia, there is a significant overlap between the two genres. Both utilise acoustic instruments such as traditional guitars and didgeridoos. In many ways, the two belong to a broader and singular style.
Despite regularly focusing on the Wild West era, US country rarely discusses the rights of Native Americans. Instead, the song narrative usually portrays the “white experience” of the time. In contrast, Australian country has been used over the years to discuss the role Aboriginal people play in society. Artists use didgeridoos to show that they support tribal citizens and advocate their rights. In this regard, Australian country music is much more political and rebellious.
Famous Australian Country Stars
- Buddy Williams
Known as “The Yodelling Jackaroo”, Williams was a pioneer of Aussie country. He is cited as the first Australian to record music of this genre. His lyrics were about his life in the Australian bush. He developed a sub-genre that would later be called the “bush ballad”. His most famous track is “Give A Little Credit To Dad”, which is now in the National Film And Sound Archive.
- Keith Urban
Urban is a platinum country artist who made his debut in the early 1990s. Some of his most successful singles are “Somebody Like You”, “But For The Grace Of God” and “You’ll Think of Me”. He has won several Grammy Awards over the years and is now recognised as one of the biggest singers in the genre. After moving to the US, his work began to have a distinctly American sound. This has helped to broaden his popularity.
- Amber Lawrence
Lawrence has released five albums as well as an EP which have won numerous awards. She was nominated for a Golden Guitar Award six times before finally winning one in 2015. This was due to Superheroes, her acclaimed fourth album. Lawrence is known for performing over 100 shows annually. This includes some of the biggest country festivals such as Gympie Muster, Deni Ute Muster and Tamworth Country Music Festival.