CMAA ANNOUNCES FIRST EVER ‘ACADEMY X’

JANUARY 9 & 10, 2021

ONLINE EDUCATIONAL EVENT TO FEATURE SUPERSTARS AND LEADERS OF THE COUNTRY MUSIC INDUSTRY

Registrations open now at www.academycountrymusic.com.au.

The Country Music Association of Australia Inc. is proud to announce the first ever ‘Academy X’ online educational event to take place Saturday, January 9 and 10, 2021. The Academy X program will feature superstars and leaders of the country music industry giving students invaluable information on various aspects of the music industry, including songwriting, record labels, publishing, management, festivals and touring, recording, performance, video production and media strategies. There will be a focus on resilience, innovation and mental health in a post-COVID world.

The two-day course will feature key note presentations by country music superstars Troy Cassar-Daley, Brooke McClymont, Kasey Chambers, Beccy Cole, Shane Nicholson, Amber Lawrence, Fanny Lumsden and Caitlyn Shadbolt along with industry leaders including Matt Fell (award winning producer, Love Hz Studio), Julz Parker (award winning producer), Dan Biddle (artist manager and CMAA chairman), Natalie Waller (ABC Music and Events head and CMAA vice-chair), Duncan Toombs (award winning video director, The Filmery), Geoff Bell (agent and promoter, Laing Entertainment) and Simon Johnson (multi-instrumentalist and producer, Hillbilly Hut), as well as Support Act with a presentation on mental health and resilience in the music industry.

Group leaders and mentors for the students will include award-winning artists Lyn Bowtell, Dobe Newton, Roger Corbett, Catherine Britt, Amber Lawrence, Lachlan Bryan, Ashleigh Dallas, Kevin Bennett, David Carter, Jayne Denham and Mickey Pye and they will provide the intensive hands on experience that has been an integral part of The Academy for so long.

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Country on Keppel keeps the music playing

Country on Keppel will get the party started in November with new dates, a revamped line-up, and a new headline artist.

Award-winning artist and musician Matt Cornell is the newest addition to the line-up to bring country to Great Keppel Island on November 13-15 in a COVID-safe manner.

Due to the uncertainty of COVID-19 border restrictions, festival organisers have had to postpone performances by Jasmine Rae, Johnny Taylor, Danny Phegan and Aaron Jurd as they would all have to travel from interstate.

Singer-songwriter and musician Matt Cornell wears a number of musical hats as a solo artist in his own right, one-half of Cornell and Carr, and as Adam Brand’s musical director and band member.

Country has not been his only musical home, either: for three years he was a member of iconic rock band The Baby Animals, and has been a member of Richard Clapton’s and Shannon Noll’s bands and has opened for artists including Richard Marx.

Matt is a multiple Golden Guitar and CMC Music Awards finalist and won a CMC Music Award for ARIA Award for Highest Selling Australian Artist with Adam Brand and The Outlaws and he’s keen to make his Country on Keppel debut in two months.

“It’s always exciting being involved with a new festival,” Cornell said.

“Country On Keppel is only in its second year and held in such a unique setting – who wouldn’t want to head to an island, drink cocktails, listen to country music and hang out with likeminded people?

“Do you feel like hanging out on Great Keppel Island with James Blundell, Brad Butcher and a bunch of my mates for some live music and some cold beer?”

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Benny Allen spreads bluegrass joy with Lady Luck and Me

In a time when we look to music for joy, Benny Allen’s new single has it in swagfuls, delivered in chart-topping banjo-laden foot-stomping bluegrass banger, Lady Luck and Me.

Benny’s new single debuted at No. 2 on release day, September 4, on the iTunes Country Songs Chart and the iTunes All Genres Songs top 40 Chart.

Anyone who’s come across the Melbourne singer-songwriter will know that Benny exudes positivity and a global pandemic and ensuing lockdown was not going to quash his creativity. He recorded the vocals for his last single, the Battle of Point Nepean, and this new track, remotely with producer and multi-instrumentalist Michael Carpenter in the producer’s chair putting the musical touches to them.

“I really wanted to put something out that was upbeat and positive,” Benny said.

“I generally put out positive songs, although what I tend to write comes out as sad songs and my daughter often asks why are my songs so sad? So, I had this idea of doing Lady Luck and Me as a bluegrass song.”

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Cornell & Carr’s COVID creativity

By Bec Gracie

Cornell & Carr have not let a global pandemic dampen their creativity and there’s new music on the way, following on from their debut album, We Go Way Back.

Before COVID-19 shut down the touring scene, the Golden Guitar finalists were slated to tour with Adam Brand, and had taken on management with Ian “Dicko” Dickson with major plans for the year, but Matt Cornell’s music plans were put on hold when Adam Brand had to take most of the year off for vocal surgery and rest.

“At that point, it was ‘what are we going to do now?’ because Cornell & Carr had the whole year put aside and then the whole world found out about this thing called Corona Virus,” he said.

“No one knew how serious it was going to be and I’d already lost other gigs with my Sydney 80s cruise and various other shows right there and then – they were gone.”

Matt, like other artists, spent time comprehending what this situation meant for his income and career plans in 2020.

“Being an independent artist, I’m always brainstorming with myself about where I could play and booking gigs and when it first hit, I didn’t know how to compute things until I was talking to Natalie Gauci and she said something that resonated with me. She said, ‘you’ve just got to surrender to this and you’ll be okay’ and it was like the weight of the world had been lifted.

“I had to stop living the way I lived, looking for work, promoting, thinking of ideas on how to promote shows and I just accepted it, then I was able to approach it with a completely different mindset.”

Photo: Tania Smith

Duo partner, Mike Carr, reiterated this, as he had Cornell & Carr touring plans, as well as a tour with Adam Harvey locked in and was compering all of CMC Rocks this year, but surrendered to the situation and his ARIA Award winning alter ego Buddy Goode embraced comedy to deal with it to help himself and keep his social media followers smiling in those initial dark days.

“I did my last gig on March 14 and it’s been a long time since I had this much time off, so it was a case of what do you do?” he said.

“For the first couple of weeks I was creating Wuhan Wuhan The Musical.”

Check out Buddy Goode on Facebook if you haven’t yet caught this musical masterpiece.

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Aaron D’Arcy gets a Better Day with chart success

In these often dark times of COVID-19 and parts of the country in lockdown, Melbourne singer-songwriter Aaron D’Arcy is having a Better Day with his new single charting at No. 3 this morning, August 28, on release.

Better Day is a rock-edged country song that has a positive outlook on sometimes challenging situations that has charted at No. 3 on the iTunes Country Songs Chart and No. 35 on the All Genres chart.

Written with Cam Muncey of iconic Australian rock band, Jet, Better Day is a fitting song for the current situation with Victorians forced to stay home, and the news full of doom and gloom.

“With a little bit of positivity, you can look at it and think it’s alright,” Aaron said.

“The positives I’ve tried to take away from COVID is that I get a break from things, I’m doing odd jobs around the house, taking a breath and spending more time with the family.”

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Happy Australia Day aims to educate for stronger future

Golden Guitar winning singer-songwriter Luke O’Shea has always felt a responsibility to educate as well entertain – and his latest single, Happy Australia Day, links both his passions and is bound to get people talking.

Happy Australia Day, released today, August 19, attempts to link both Australia’s Indigenous and European histories by highlighting 9 significant indigenous activists and simply telling an old story from a fresh perspective.

Luke collaborated with fellow award-winning artist, Kevin Bennett, a proud Kamilaroi man, on this new single, which they hope will strike a raw nerve and inspire fellow Australians to learn more about our tumultuous past, it’s remarkable people and just why January 26 can be seen as such a divisive day.

“It’s pretty well known that for the last 30 years I have danced between two careers – one a touring singer-songwriter and the second – a high school teacher,” he said.

“The subjects I teach, music, art, religion, history and geography have always influenced and inspired me and my music – and the opportunity to share that passion and the insights gained to students and audiences around Australia – has truly given me a blessed life.”

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Lindsay Ell offers healing and inspiration with new album, Heart Theory

A major health scare and opening up about sexual assault as a teenager makes for a moving album for singer-songwriter and guitar shredder Lindsay Ell.

You would be hard-pressed to find a more personal, heart-wrenching, and inspiring album than Heart Theory, released today, August 14.

Working through the seven stages of grief, this is a concept album best consumed from start to finish, rather than in bites.

“I was about halfway through writing this record when I realised I was writing these songs in the order of how I was feeling them,” Lindsay said.

“As human beings on the planet we go through transformation in our lives and I thought how cool would it be to write a record in order of the seven stages of grief.”

The singer-songwriter who knows how to shred a guitar with the best of them, works through grief from shock to denial and all the way down to acceptance, and opens up to her listeners as they travel the journey with her.

“I want to inspire them to go through this with me because I feel like the past three years, and particularly the last year, has been transformative for me,” Lindsay said.

“I had a massive health scare and finally wanting to talk about my story as a little girl, I’ve gotten to know myself – we always think we do, but we get to know ourselves deeper and deeper as we get older and there is such a beautiful quality in that.”

The Canadian artist, who now calls Nashville home, opened up about her rape at 13 years old, while visiting Youth For Tomorrow to launch their music program.

“I sat down with 12 other little girls and I told them my story and I heard them tell their stories,” she said.

“These are stories that are so horrific. This happens far more in our society than we want to realise and by not talking about it, we are allowing that shame and guilt to continue, but we can help each other heal and become strong through talking about it.”

Lindsay Ell at CMC Rocks 2019. Photo: Rebecca Gracie
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Amanda Heartsong – crystal clear calling

Music can be a calling and a healer for many, as is the case for Queensland’s Amanda Heartsong who is now spreading the word on the power of music, while penning songs inspired by dodgy footwear.

Amanda is a graduate of the 2020 CMAA Academy where she had multi-award-winning artist Catherine Britt as her group leader.

The experience is life-changing for every student and staff member.

“The Academy changed my life massively,” she said.

“It gave me the confidence to have my own voice and I learned to play guitar from Roger. Through that, my whole creativity opened up and helped me with writing songs and feeling confident as a musician.

“The Academy helped me find that tribe and that stops the loneliness because I’ve made connections.”

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Adam Brand releases inspirational album, Speed of Life

If, like many of us, you’ve followed or been part of Adam Brand’s career over the past 20-odd years, you’ll know he’s always true to himself as an artist, and his latest album, Speed of Life, takes this even further.

This down-to-earth approach has won over thousands of supporters and this week Speed of Life sits at No. 1 on the ARIA Country Albums Chart and No. 6 on the ARIA Albums Chart.

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Luke O’Shea and Lyn Bowtell vie for golden trifecta

Luke O’Shea could add to his collection of nine Golden Guitars, after snagging three spots at today’s finalist announcement event in Sydney.

O’Shea released Sing Me A Story, a duet with Lyn Bowtell, in late September, his first release in three years and it is a finalist in APRA AMCOS Song of the Year, Heritage Song of the Year and Vocal Collaboration of the Year. He already has five Heritage Song of the Year Golden Guitars to his name.

The multi-Golden Guitar winner said he was grateful Sing Me A Story has connected so strongly with industry personnel and his country music peers.

“Lyn Bowtell and myself are so very grateful and super appreciative of the support our duet, Sing Me A Story, has received from all aspects of the Australian country music industry,” he said.

“It’s been a long time between drinks for me, personally, and the fact the leading single from my upcoming album has been able to connect with peers and audiences to this extent is very humbling and deeply satisfying.”

O’Shea wrote the song with Felicity Urquhart in front of other songwriters at The DAG Songwriter’s Retreat outside of Nundle and the single heralds a new album for the Sutherland Shire artist.

“A special thanks goes out to the wonderful Felicity Urquhart who I wrote this song with, out at the magnificent DAG Sheep Station Songwriters Retreat and also Sean Rudd who has worked tirelessly on it through it’s many ebbs and flows,” he said.

“It certainly inspires me to keep on keeping on with my aim of singing up this incredible country of ours and I cannot wait to share my upcoming album, There In The Ochre, with you all come the 2020 Tamworth Country Music Festival.”

Luke O’Shea at the announcement of the 2020 Golden Guitar finalists. Photo: Lisa Williams