More and more Australian performers are trading Tamworth for Nashville to find fame and fortune as country music stars.
The migration of Australian country musicians to the US has long been an industry within an industry, but according to Aussies in the country music capital the trend is increasing.
Western Sydney music producer Jemmuel Magtibay, 21, is currently playing as a musician for country-rock artist and American Idol finalist Cade Foehner on his nation-wide Southern Hallelujah Tour.
“Americans love their country as much as Australians love pop,” said Mr Magtibay.
“Australians treat country as a joke. People in America take it seriously.”
But some recent polls indicate a growing interest in country music among Australians aged 13-25, with one Instagram poll in May finding 39 per cent ‘loved’ the genre.
Sam Hawksley, a country musician who has been living in Nashville for nine years, described the city as a “music mecca” of budding stars trying to fulfil their dreams.
“The talent pool is enormous,” he added.
“You’re immediately thrust into a situation where there’s just so much talent.
“America has over 2,000 commercial country music stations the size of a triple M or Fox FM in Melbourne.
“You get taken around to the 150 reporting stations (radio stations which determine the top 40 charts) and play for the radio promo staff in their board rooms; then you take the director out to lunch or dinner and schmooze them over to play your music on air.”
Australia’s rich legacy of country music includes icons such as Slim Dusty and the nation’s country capital Tamworth which hosts annual festivals and is home to the Big Golden Guitar statue.
Australian country artists began to get their foot in the door in the US as early as the 1970s with Olivia Newton-John claiming the titles of Best Country Grammy Vocal Female and The Academy of Country’s Most Promising Female Vocalist awards.
But her success did not come without some reservations in America, with even country music queen Dolly Parton openly expressing her distaste Newton-John’s Grammy win.
At the time Parton’s influence turned the whole of Nashville against the wholesome Aussie singer. Newton-John even tried to return the award, but the Grammy committee refused to take it back.
Despite the initial struggle of acceptance in the American country community, it did not stop other Aussies from pursuing their career there.
Only a year after his Australian-chart-topping debut self-titled album Keith Urban moved to America and won Most Promising Male Vocalist at the Academy of Country Awards in 2001.
Urban has continued to be one of Australia’s most respected country artists in this generation, and helped broaden the genre through collaborations with some of hip-hop and pop’s biggest names including Pitbull and Julia Michaels.
Foehner, who grew up in Shelbyville, Texas, said country music in Tennessee was all “pervasive”.
“You couldn’t go anywhere without hearing country,” he said.
“Country isn’t just big in Texas; it’s big in the south in general.”
Man, it’s a liberating feeling being able to tell people that your occupation is a musician without being questioned what your “real job” is here.
I’ve hesitated telling people what it is I do for ages because I didn’t wanna be questioned all the time.