Only passion can account for the heights that Lee Kernaghan has reached in his career as a songwriter, composer, musician and, most of all, an Australian. Born on April 15, 1964 in Corryong, Victoria, at the foothills of the Snowy Mountains, the son of a truck driver and grandson of a sheep and cattle drover, his life growing up as a kid from the bush has permeated deep into his music.

Kernaghan first caught the music world's attention with a Starmaker award in 1982 but quickly found himself going nowhere. Country music did not have the popularity then that it has now and Kernaghan had to fall back on singing pop rock and rock'n roll. During these lows, he even played piano at a cocktail bar, slipping out in between sets to call bingo at a nearby club. He recalls that his worst experience from those days was a stint at the Carrier Arms Hotel where not a single person showed up for the performance.

The dark clouds broke in 1992 when Kernaghan, in collaboration with Garth Porter, released his album 'The Outback Club' which won the ARIA award. In 1993, his song 'Boys from the Bush' won him his first Golden Guitar for Song of the Year, together with another one for 'The Outback Club' as Album of the Year, and still another one as Male Vocalist of the Year. In the same year, he produced the album 'Three Chain Road Gang' which won for him five Golden Guitars at the 1994 Australian Country Music Awards, an ARIA award for Country Music Album of the Year, and a Double Platinum certification from that association.

Throughout the 90's and onward, his other chart-busting albums included: 1959, Hat Town, Electric Rodeo which went to the top of the Australian Country chart, The New Bush which was certified another Platinum by ARIA, The Big Ones and Spirit of the Bush. In 2009, he released 'Planet Country' his latest collection of songs which took two years to write and produce. Kernaghan considers this album very special and probably the highlight of his career. To date, Kernaghan has sold more than 1 million albums in Australia, has had 10 hit albums, and 26 number one hits, all of which have reached Platinum sales levels. He has also won 27 Golden Guitars and 3 ARIA awards.

With his deep love of the bush and the people of rural Australia, Kernaghan launched the 'Toyota Pass the Hat Around Australia' tour which raised over $1 million for towns and communities going through a hard time. The proceeds from the tour were used for drought and flood relief, medical equipment for hospitals in remote areas, emergency services, bushfire rebuilding projects and air conditioning for country schools.

In 2004 Kernaghan was awarded the Order of Australia medal. In 2008, the Australian government named him Australian of the Year. For things music and Australian, the passion of Lee Raymond Kernaghan has brought him a long way.

Lee is currently taking his 'Pubs, Clubs and Carparks' tour around the country - check the events calender on this site to see where he is playing near you.


[FONT="]John Robert Williamson is a country singer and songwriter with a string of awards to prove it. But he also is or has been a farmer, television personality, band leader, activist, jingle maker, movie songwriter, conservationist, producer of a musical and a general ‘all rounder’. In 1992, Williamson became a Member of the Order of Australia and in 2003, he was elected President of the Country Music Association of Australia. Leading up to that and beyond, he has accumulated forty years of service in and contribution to country music.

Williamson, born on November 1, 1945 in the Mallee district in the north western part of Victoria, was playing the ukelele at age 7 and the guitar by the time he was 12. When the family relocated to Moree in New South Wales in 1965, Williamson wrote his first song “Old Man Emu” which he sang in a local restaurant as part of his repertoire. In the program New Faces the song won first prize and a recording contract with Fable Records. As soon as it was released, the record shot to the top of the Australian music charts. Several other singles followed in the course of the next ten years.

In 1973, Williamson became the host of the television show “Travlin' Out West” which was on the air for two years. He formed his band “Crow” which, when it changed its style to rock, was renamed “Sydney Radio”. When the group disbanded, Williamson started to do the rounds of pubs playing solo. His songs, style and personality caught on and he built up a strong following. In 1985 he set up his own record label Gum Leaf Recordings. Then came his landmark album “Mallee Boy” which became a triple Platinum with many of the songs now considered as classics. Since the album was released, Williamson developed the preference to sing around a campfire. The Next year, Williamson was named by Variety Club “Entertainer of the Year” and in 1990, his [/FONT][FONT="]album “Warra[/FONT][FONT="]gul” won the ARIA Award as Best Australian Country Record.

[FONT="]The 90's was a stellar [/FONT][FONT="]year in Willi[/FONT][FONT="]amson's career. His first family album won the Award for Best Selling Album and another, “Waratah St.” was a gold even before it could be delivered to stores. He was inducted into the Roll of Renown and his song “Sir Don” for our leg[/FONT][FONT="]endary batsman Sir Donald George Bradman was adjudged the Biggest Selling Album at the Tamworth Country Music Awards. The Next year, he and an Indigenous Australian friend won the Collaboration of the Year award at Tamworth. At the end of the decade, his album “The Way It Is” won three Golden Guitar awa[/FONT][FONT="]rds, becoming Gold after only eight weeks.[/FONT]

[FONT="]In 2003 Williamson sang “Sir Don” at the memorial service for Bradman in Adelaide. In October of the same year, at the request of the Prime Minister, he sang Waltzing Matilda at the memorial service for the 2002 Bali bombings. After Steve Irwin was killed in 2006, Williamson sang his songs “Home Among the Gum Trees” and “True Blue” at the memorial service for Irwin in the Australia Zoo Crocoseum.

In 2010, John Williamson was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame, a fitting tribute to an artist who has devoted his life to making music a meaningful experience for people everywhere.


The two countries with the most developed country music industries are the United States and Australia. Nashville in Tennessee, USA is the home of the CMA Country Music Festival, the largest of its kind in the world. The second largest is found in Tamworth in New South Wales, Australia, host of the CMAA Country Music Festival. Between the two of them, these events every year attract around 1,200 musicians who perform for about 400,000 people coming from countries around the world.

Contrast that with Aubrey, a small city in Texas, USA with a land area of a little bit more than 5 square kilometers and a population of 1,500. A service station across the street from a chapel serves as the city's social centre. Aubrey is where Doug Bruce grew up to make his mark on the two largest country music festivals in the world. Music was part of growing up. Doug's father, Dale, is a bass guitar player who went on tours with country music legends, including one to Australia in the 70's. Doug's uncle, Buddy, wrote songs for other country music icons and was an inspiration for Doug to pursue a music career.

Starting as a drummer with bands in the North Texas area, Bruce joined the band Cheyenne which won the 2000 People's Choice Award of the Terry Awards, incidentally a brainchild of erstwhile country drummer Terry Beene. In that year, and the next, Bruce was nominated for the Drummer of the Year award. When Cheyenne broke up in 2001, he moved to Nashville and continued playing as drummer for various bands. A big bonus of his Nashville job was running into an Australian lady who eventually became his wife. The courtship had its own side benefit. Bruce fell in love with Australia and its people, so much so that after the couple's first child was born, the family moved to Bendigo in Victoria, Australia where they now live.

Playing the drums or singing front of stage, Bruce began to make a name for himself in the Australian music scene. His first extended-play CD as a singer/songwriter “Brand New Memory” released in 2006 was well-received, and continues to enjoy radio time. He co-wrote the album “Somewhere Between the Truth and Goodbye” which was released in 2008, winning several awards from the Victorian National & Country Music Awards at the Whittlesea Country Music Festival. In the same year, he formed his own band The Tailgaters.

His first full album “All I Need” won for Bruce the 2009 Best Male Vocalist award at the Tamworth Independent Artists Recognition Awards, the Best Contemporary Song from the TSA National Song writing Competition Award, and the awards for Victorian Male Vocalist, Victorian Album of the Year and Best Independent Release.

His follow-up work in 2010 “A Good Place” brought him the Victorian Album of the Year, Victorian Male Vocalist of the Year and Best Traditional Country Song awards. With their much-applauded performances at the 2011 Tamworth Country Music Festival.

Check out the ItsCountry Gig guide to see where Doug is playing near you or visit his website doug bruce

While many different music genres appeal to specific audiences and groups of people, country music stands out as the only one that transcends gender, age, race, social status and every demographic in the country. That is why there really is no strict definition of country music because it means different things to different folk. But, to prove its universal appeal, the two top selling artists in the world were produced by country music: Elvis Presley, known early in his career as the “Hillbilly Cat”, has 129.5 million albums to his credit followed by Garth Brooks with 128 million. Every week, almost 80 million adults listen to country music, and US album sales of country music continue to increase whereas those of the other genres are steadily dropping.

The origins of country music run deep, both in time and in people's minds. In the United States, the melting pot of many cultures, country music developed from immigrants who brought along their musical instruments and their songs and interacted with each other to produce what is now broadly called country music.

One of the characteristics that makes country music so popular is its flexibility and adaptability to different formats, giving musicians, singers and songwriters a broad spectrum on which to express their art. The non-rigidity of country music accepts the sad and melancholy as well as the bright and bouncy. It can be fast, slow, quiet, loud, sung alone or in a group, in a concert hall or in a pub. The history of country music shows that not one single style has dominated for a very long time before another one, slightly or very different, entered the scene.

There was hillbilly or “okie” boogie as early as 1939 which contributed to the development of Rockabilly later on. The end of World War II saw the emergence of bluegrass and gospel music, and from Texas came honky tonk. Rockabilly, a mixture of rock n' roll and hillbilly music became the most popular form in the 1950's prompting Elvis Presley to go over to country music. Then, the Nashville pop style blended with country music to evolve into the countrypolitan style, opening country music to a wider, mainstream audience.

It then became the turn of soul to blend in with country music followed by the Bakersfield sound, mixing hardcore honky tonk with Western swing where electric instruments and amplification came to the forefront. This precipitated a backlash of sorts giving rise to the closer-to-traditional form called country rock. Other sub-genres emerged in the succeeding years, among them outlaw country, country pop, neocountry, truck driving country, neotraditionalist and alternative country. Each of these developments did not always slip in smoothly. Proponents of the neotraditionalist movement, pushing for a return to a more basic sound, eschewed the polished sound of country pop, a controversy ignited when Australian pop singer Olivia Newton-John won the CMA Award for Female Vocalist of the Year in 1974.

Perhaps, even these controversies underscore the nature of country music as a genre to which everyone lays claim and considers his own.

From July 30 – August 6, 2011, Fiji will be the scene of the 2011 Fiji Oz Country Music Festival. The event, to be held at the Rydges Hideaway Resort on the Coral Coast of Fiji will be headlined by ARIA Award winner Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson. The festival will also feature other top Australian country music artists like the chart-busting duo McAlister Kemp, Perth-born sisters The Sunny Cowgirls, Star Maker awardee Travis Collins, 2010 Toyota Star Maker winner Luke Austen, The Ashleigh Dallas Band and comedian - ventriloquist Darren Carr as emcee.

Settled sometime between 3500 – 1000 BC, Fiji has 332 islands and over 500 islets giving it an area of 18,300 square kilometers. Situated about 2,000 kilometers northeast of New Zealand, it was a colony of Britain until 1970. Blessed with rich forest, mineral and fish resources, Fiji is among the most developed economies in the area which includes Tonga, Vanuatu and the Samoas. It also has an active tourism industry and is a major sugar exporter. The name Fiji was given by Captain James Cook because the people from Tonga, where Cook first met people from Fiji, pronounced Viti (the home of the Fijians) as “Fisi”.

Although it belongs to the Melanesian group, the music of Fiji sounds more Polynesian, perhaps because the Polynesians were the first to settle the islands. However, the folk music styles of Fiji are a blend of Melanesian and Polynesian reflecting the high mobility in Fiji's history. Vocal church music, a rich harmony, dances and complex percussion characterize the folk music of the country.

“Lali” drums are an important part of the culture of Fiji and are one of the various indigenous musical instruments of the country. The drums are used to summon people and to spread the news of births, deaths and wars. Today, Fijians, like their Polynesian neighbours, love to play the ukulele, guitar and mandolin. “Meke” which refers to a traditional type of dance is performed at celebrations and festivals by people who claim to dance under the influence of spirits. The “cibi” is a Fijian war dance which became well known since it was performed by the Fiji team before each national rugby union match.

There is a strong Indian influence in the music of Fiji traceable to the late 1800's when its British colonizers brought over Indian contract labourers to work in the sugarcane fields. There is Indo-Fijian music like Bhajans, sung to the accompaniment of the harmonium and dholak. The Qawwali is devotional music popular in the Punjab and northern parts of India and Pakistan. Ghazal/Thumri is highly popular in Fiji, and its most famous artist Cassius Khan has received the Salute to Excellence Award from Canada, as well as a Juno Award. Starting in the 80's Fijian Pop has produced many bands and artists that have become popular across the region. Laisa Vulakoro is well known for creating “vude” which combines elements of disco, country, island music and rock 'n roll.

So pack your bags and make a call... it's a perfect place to get away from the winter in Australia and indulge in the warmth and hospitality of the Fijian people while listening to our great Country Music!