Thursday, April 25, 2024

Tamworth’s bronze tribute to John Williamson

A life-size, bronze statue of legendary Australian singer-songwriter, John Williamson AM, is set to be officially unveiled at the 50th Tamworth Country Music Festival and Golden Guitar Awards celebrations in January 2022.

“Willo” will join three life-size statues of country legends Smoky Dawson, Slim Dusty and Joy McKean and another 12 bronze busts of country music pioneers.

Renowned sculptor, Tanya Bartlett, who also recently produced a statue of Winx for Rosehill and was responsible for the Smoky Dawson and Slim and Joy statues in Tamworth, has been commissioned to create the bronze statue of John Williamson.

Tamworth Mayor, Col Murray is chairman of the local committee driving the project. Country music legendary ‘Matriarch’ Joy McKean – the wife and manager of the late Slim Dusty – has agreed to become patron of the appeal.

“After last year’s cancellation, the new statue will signal the resurgence of the city’s famous Country Music Festival,” said Chairman, Col Murray.

“The honouring of one of Australia’s most famous and well-loved singer-songwriters reflects the importance Tamworth places on acknowledging, through Australian country music, the rich and colourful heritage of our land and its people.

“Over the past 50 years John Williamson has also made a massive contribution to Australian Country Music, Tamworth and its renowned Festival. Country Music Capital salutes John Williamson,” he said.

Mr Williamson said he was proud to be cast in bronze in Australia’s country music capital.

“To be cast in bronze in the streets of Tamworth… it’s pretty hard to imagine… I’m very proud that it’s in Tamworth,” said the music man.

“Tamworth’s done so much for country music, done a lot for me, and the ones coming along. If I can be someone there, encouraging young ones, I think that’s fantastic,” he said.

John Williamson performs at the Big Red Bash 2021 in Birdsville.

No stranger to Tamworth, John has accumulated 27 Golden Guitars and numerous other music industry accolades in his more than half century music career.

In 2020, he celebrated 50 years as a songwriter, recording artist and entertainer, since first coming to prominence with his now classic song Old Man Emu which was released on June 4th, 1970.

In the early 1980s, he wrote what many Australians regard as our most popular national anthem, True Blue. The song went on to become one of Australia’s most recognised, universally loved and celebrated songs, performed at countless public occasions.

John won his first Golden Guitar in 1985. He followed with several top selling albums, Mallee Boy, Boomerang Café and Warragul and toured the nation. By the late 1980s, superb ballads like Cootamundra Wattle, A Bushman Can’t Survive and Mallee Boy were attracting a younger more contemporary audience to Australian Country Music. Raining On The Rock with Warren Williams was another gigantic song with emotional ties to “country”.

As well as performing, John has contributed to the country music Industry, serving as the inaugural Vice Chair and later as President of the Country Music Association of Australia (CMAA) for many years. An early star on the Roll of Renown (1988), he has won countless awards and trophies and is recognised widely as an inspired country music leader, performer and songwriter.

He was awarded an AM in 1992.

In total, to date, John has released more than 50 albums, 10 videos, five DVDs and two lyric books and has sold more than four million albums in Australia.

The statue is being crowdfunded on GoFundMe.com with the target of $99,000 – go to johnwilliamsonbronzestatue.com – to find out how to support the fundraising campaign.

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