Lee Kernaghan is one of Australia’s greatest country artists, and with over two million albums sold nationwide, four ARIA awards and 34 number one songs, he is also one of Australia’s most successful music artists. This year he is celebrating the 25th anniversary of his debut, the award winning album, Outback Club (1992). The celebrations started in March, with a special release album, titled The 25th Anniversary Album (2017).
Kernaghan is special to Australia in ways that go beyond just his music, as described by Robert Patterson, Director of ABC Commercial, “He [Kernaghan] is not only one of Australia’s most successful music artists, he is also a tireless advocate for regional and rural Australians, bringing national attention to important issues. We hold Lee in the highest regard, and congratulate him on this significant anniversary and on the re-release of this iconic album.”
This celebratory album saw Kernaghan joined in studio by numerous other Australian country stars – such as Kasey Chambers, John Williamson, Troy Cassar-Daley and James Blundell, along with Kernaghan’s wife Robyn McKelvie. The album features songs that reflect his long career, these include both his own hits and covers of other artist’s songs, which have a connection to Kernaghan’s own musical journey. Kernaghan saw this album as a unique chance to celebrate and thank many of those who helped him throughout his career.
“Over the last 25 years, I’ve had the opportunity to work with some exceptionally talented singers, songwriters and musicians, many of whom I call my mates,” Kernaghan says. “So, when it came time to make this special silver Anniversary Album, I wanted to share the occasion by recording new tracks with some of the all-time greats who’ve played an integral part in the story of my career in music.”
The past six months have seen the veteran Aussie troubadour travelling the country performing for an important part of the last 25 years – his fans. Launching at the Toyota Country Music Festival in March, the Boys From The Bush 25th Anniversary Tour has been playing sold out shows across the country, with numerous performances throughout Victoria, Tasmania, NSW and of course, his home state of Queensland. The tour launch saw fans travel from near and far to be a part of the milestone event, in a milestone year for the country star.
From there, the tour was supported by award-winning The Wolfe Brothers and various performances included several special guests – both James Blundell and Tania Kernaghan joined him for ultra-special nights. Kernaghan has been having so much fun on this tour he describes it as “the time of my life” and says the fans have been helping hugely with the celebrations.
“The crowds have been coming along to party and celebrate with us every night and I don’t think I have ever had more fun performing these songs,” he says.
The past 25 years have seen Lee Kernaghan achieve a great deal; the aforementioned four ARIA awards and 34 number one hit songs, as well as 36 Golden Guitar wins, and being the 2015 recipient of Outstanding Achievement ARIA. Going hand and hand with all these achievements is the legion of fans that follow Kernaghan from all over the country, these are the people he gladly calls ‘mates’, and are the people he called on to help him celebrate this year.
“Looking back now I feel so grateful for all the experiences that have led me to this point and all the legendary people who have come out to the shows and joined me on this ride of a lifetime,” he says and like all artists, Kernaghan remembers his less then glamorous beginning vividly. “It doesn’t seem that long ago I was doing solo shows down in the Riverina, towing a horse float that I used as a band trailer with all my music equipment rattling around in the back.”
Although the celebratory 25th year may be drawing to a close, it has been full of memorable moments for both Kernaghan and his fans, highlighting the best of the years before it.
“Looking back, it’s been an epic ride,” Kernaghan says, “but one I could never have made alone.”
When & Where: Her Majesty’s Theatre, Ballarat – November 15, Ulumbarra Theatre, Bendigo – November 16 & The Palms at Crown, Melbourne – November 17 & 18
Written by Perri Digby