Throughout her 25 year career, Beccy Cole has seen it all. She’s ridden the rollercoaster of the music industry and experienced the highs and lows of what’s behind it. She’s won 22 Golden Guitars, has multiple ARIA Top 10 Country and Top 40 Mainstream albums, three gold-certified releases and more than a dozen number one Australian country singles.
And through it all, Cole remains herself.
“The best advice I ever got was simply to be yourself,” she says. “We all start out trying to emulate someone else, for me it was Dolly Parton, but in the end it’s when you find out what it is that makes you different and then that’s when people go ‘wow’.
“It makes more sense as time goes on and you realise you’re not going to get anywhere trying to emulate someone else. It’s about finding the thing you do best and then doing it deliberately over and over again.”
This September, the singer-songwriter is kicking up her country boots and heading to Crossley Hall in Port Fairy and bringing a swag of her friends along for the ride.
“I’ve always wanted to play this venue, it’s one of those venues people talk about,” she says. “I’ve only ever played in Port Fairy at the Folk Festival so this is an opportunity to play this wonderful venue and it’s something I’ve been looking forward too.”
Cole has music running through her veins. Her enviable career has spanned over 25 years, but in reality, it started long before her first release.
“My mum and dad actually met in a rock n roll band in the 60’s so I’m a child of Rock ‘N’ Roll,” Cole says. “When I was a kid I played lots of different instruments quite naturally and then I guess that stuck. I’ve never had lessons but I’ve always been happy to give anything a crack.”
And while her cheeky grin will never reveal the hard yards she’s fought through, Cole knows her industry is a tough one to crack – particularly for women.
“I think there’s always been a huge gender gap in the industry, you only have to look at the amount women are in the ARIA Hall of Fame compared to men, and you’ll see the number is hugely different,” she says. “Even today when you look at a festival lineup and you take away the male names and you see the female names remaining; they’re always less.
“I have an all-girl band and people say to my drummer ‘you’re a great girl-drummer’, why do they need to put ‘girl’ in front of ‘drummer’? Ridiculous.
“In saying that, it has made strong and resilient women who are able to get beyond that. We know that we might not ever get the top billing, but there’s something nice about an underdog status that makes you want to get up on stage and blow them all away.”
Since breaking onto the music scene in the 1990’s, Cole has hit stages across the country and the world with the likes of Adam Harvey, Kasey Chambers and the biggest legend of all, Slim Dusty.
Cole is the first to admit one of her biggest secrets behind her success – listening.
“Certainly when I younger I was all ears and I’d tried to take in as much as possible,” she says. “Someone like Slim Dusty was always so incredibly generous with his advice and his information. He and his wife Joy were really well-known for taking young artists on the road and that was me at that time and that’s encouraged me to now do the same.
“It can be a lonely old business and you really do need listen the advice of people and those who genuinely encourage you and want to see you do well.”
Today, Cole is still able to sell out audiences around the country and she’s always hitting the road to play her music wherever she can.
“I look back on my career with fondness and such great memories,” she says. “I think one of the biggest things you can achieve in this industry that means the most is longevity; that’s worth a billion Golden Guitars and all the rest they give you because you can win them one year and be forgotten the next.
“The fact I’m just about to celebrate 20 years since my second album and my first gold album just blows me away.”
Tickets are on sale for Beccy Cole and friends at Crossley Hall on September 28 via beccycole.com/tour-dates
Written by Kim Price