Meet country artist, presenter and speaker, Tania Kernaghan in the wake of her releasing her seventh album, All Australian Girl. WORDS: Michelle Hespe
Country girl, through and through
Country crooner Tania Kernaghan has fond memories of growing up in Albury with her tightknit family, watching her mother wrap bundles of 50 records in tissue paper, to be sent off to record stores around the country. The records were those produced by her father, highly lauded country music artist Ray Kernaghan, who started his own record label, KCR Records, under which Tania now sells her own music.
“I love supporting the Australian music industry," Tania says. “People often ask if I'm going to go to the US or launch my work elsewhere, but I'm so happy with my career and my music being here in Australia, in the place I love more than anywhere else in the world. I’ve travelled around the world and I know that I live in the best country in the world.”
Tania is highly renowned on the country music scene, with a swag of awards to her name including four Golden Guitars, and she’s also adored for being such a down-to-earth Aussie woman who is extremely proud of her roots. So some people might assume that the title of her new album: All Australian Girl, is a reference to herself.
“The title of this album is actually for all of the remarkable women I’ve met over the years,” she clarifies. “The girls working out on their farms and in stock camps, those girls working in the small town pharmacies and in nursing homes taking care of our elderly — the album was written for those girls. I'm so lucky to be able to sing about this beautiful country and I love honouring Australia and its people through my music.”
On the road, entertaining the people she loves
Tania spends a lot of time on the road and staying in the Outback, and it never ceases to amaze her how the Australian spirit shines through, even during some of the toughest droughts. “Aussies are different. They are there when the chips are down,” she says. “They roll up their sleeves and make things happen. Through disasters and hard times, Australians, especially those from the bush, pull together. They never stop supporting one another.”
Tania not only continually performs around Australia, visiting towns large and small, but also works as a keynote and motivational speaker for corporate and charity organisations, is a patron to Riding for the Disabled, and a proud supporter of Angel Flight Australia. She’s also a television presenter on Channel 10’s caravanning and lifestyle program, What’s Up Downunder. As if that’s not enough to keep this woman busy, her love for Outback Queensland recently led to Tania becoming a board member on the Outback Queensland Tourism Board.
“There's nowhere on Earth like Outback Queensland,” Tania says. “Not only in terms of its landscape, but the events are so unique — from the Mount Isa Rodeo and the Birdsville Races, to the Dunnie Derby in Winton, the events are just incredible, and they bring the community together. And you know what you’re in for when you go to them too! Look at the Dirt & Dust Festival in Julia Creek – it is what it is and it’s so much fun. You know you’re not going to wear your white linens and a fancy hat to that one!” she says, laughing at the thought.
“It’s the people that make Outback Queensland so special. I haven’t been anywhere else in the world where the people welcome you with such open arms, even if you’re a complete stranger. They treat you just the same as their friends, they welcome you and want to share yarns.” She pauses and sighs. “And the landscape! It’s an elixir for your mind, body and soul.”
Wide open spaces and exciting new places
Ask Tania where she’d take a busload of her friends and family, and she gets so excited at the thought, she lets out a squeal of delight. “Where to start?” she cries. “Maybe we’d start at the Birdsville Races and then head up through Boulia, making sure we visited Big Red in the Simpson Desert. Then we’d cruise through Winton, Longreach, Blackall and Barcauldine. We couldn’t miss Mount Isa and Longreach…and you know what? I’d take a month to do it and we’d watch the stars every night. I’ve never seen stars like the ones you see in Outback Queensland. Standing out there, it feels as though you could just reach out, pick a star out of heaven and make a wish on it.” She pauses again, has a think. “And when everyone climbed off that bus at the end of the trip, they’d say that it was the best thing they’ve ever done in their entire lives!”
The songs on Tania’s latest album swing between being fun and upbeat, to poignant and sentimental. As Tania said, the title song, All Australian Girl is for all of the women out there working on the land, in the towns and in the bush, so she likes to tell a story that encapsulates her message.
“A mayor out there was really down, as the drought had been going on for so long. He’s lived in his small town all of his life, and he knows how the drought can affect families and communities,” she says. “But you know what the locals always say out there? ‘Someone down the road is worse off than us’, and they keep moving and helping one another. That’s what it’s all about. There’s always rain at the end of a drought. It might be five, ten years that the drought goes on for, and sometimes it can feel like your darkest hour, but then there’s light at the end of the tunnel.”
Listening to the song, it’s obvious that Tania strives to create music that not only shines the light on country folks’ experiences and their day-to-lives, but that also give people joy and hope.
“And this mayor, he’d go to bed at night and lie thinking – how is he going to make ends meet? That’s how the fellas think out there,” she continues. “And it’s the strength of his woman that makes the difference. Their love gets them through. There’s always be enough love to get them through.”
By the time my chat to Tania is drawing to an end, my head is bursting with wild landscapes and characters from Outback Queensland. I’m ready to jump in the car and drive until I am out there, under those stars. I say this, and she smiles.
“It’s the wide open space, the fresh air, the long sunsets and the beautiful night skies," she says. "It’s so good for your soul. The first time I went out to Big Red and stood on top and looked out across that huge red land, I wanted to cry. They weren’t sad tears — I was just so overwhelmed by it, how big and beautiful it was. Outback Queensland can affect you like that. I need to get back out there.” ’
MORE INFO AND TOUR DATES: visit: taniakernaghan.com