News Source: Weekender Magazine, page 6, Friday 21st January, 2005
By: Roghan McKerlie
He’s one of Australia’s best-known country music singers and, as Roghan McKerlie discovers on the eve of his Australia Day performance at Australia Zoo, he’s true blue.
“I think it is probably apt that I am with Steve Irwin on Australia Day because I think he and I have a lot in common,” John Williamson relates to me over the phone via his Sydney home. “Apart from the people, the most important thing in Australia is its nature – we should respect and preserve it. To me being an Australian is engulfing all those things: the variety of life and the nature.”
From his first hit, Old Man Emu, to his most recent tales of the bush through song, he has stayed true to his roots and written many of Australia’s favourite songs. After 30 years in the industry, this iconic Aussie has produced a staggering 32 albums, been awarded 20 Golden Guitars from the Australian Country Music Awards and received two ARIA awards for the Best Australian Country Record.
“I feel very lucky that I am able to do what I do. You know, I am very lucky I was brought up in a musical farming family and all those ingredients came together. I also feel very lucky to be born in this country. I pinch myself about that as much as anything. The awards are great but what makes me happier is sending people away happy from my shows.”
On Australia Day John is set to perform live in the 5000-seat Crocoseum at Australia Zoo. It will be his first trip to the Zoo and his first encounter with Australia’s greatest modern day export, Steve Irwin.
“I was supposed to get together with Steve earlier this year, but he got called away to Tasmania. So I am looking forward to meeting him as much as anything,” he says.
John’s show is a tribute to the Lucky Country. “I celebrate all the good aspects of Australia including the Aboriginal side. I have Australia’s most famous Aboriginal country music singer Warren H Williams from Hermannsberg touring with us; he is a great writer and singer; and Pixie Jenkins on the fiddle. My show really is about celebrating what it is to be Australian.”
Away from travelling and touring Australia John, a former farmer, takes a few weeks off in the middle of the year to spend time in the bush. “I have a small block up in south east Queensland. It’s in the mountains around Springbrook,” John explains.
John will be performing live at Australia Zoo at 10.30am on Wednesday, January 26. Gates of the zoo open at 8am.