AUSTRALIAN country music’s first couple will have a new home come January 24, when a statue of Slim Dusty and Joy McKean is unveiled.
In the week marking a decade since Slim’s death on September 19, 2003, the Slim and Joy Statue Appeal Committee chairman John Sommerlad said this was a statue of national significance.
“It is to country music what the Don Bradman statue is to cricket,” he said.
Mr Sommerlad announced yesterday the committee reached the fundraising target of nearly $180,000 after a final donation of $5000 from Wests Entertainment Group.
He said it was appropriate the final donation came from a Tamworth donor, and it came “hot on the heels” of a third donation from the NSW government.
“Wests Entertainment Group has a very long history with country music and is a leading venue of the Tamworth Country Music Festival,” Mr Sommerlad said.
“It’s so pleasing it was a Tamworth donation that closed the appeal.”
NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell took a personal interest in the statue appeal and when member for Tamworth Kevin Anderson mentioned they needed another $10,000 to finish, he organised the donation.
Former member for New England Tony Windsor secured $30,000 from the federal government.
He said the Slim and Joy statue would be unveiled on the morning of January 24, the Friday of the main weekend of the Tamworth festival.
“We can now concentrate on getting the statue unveiled in an appropriate ceremony,” Mr Sommerlad said.
He said two important guests would unveil the statue, which will be made by sculptor Tanya Bartlett who has previously made the Waler Memorial in Bicentennial Park and Smoky Dawson in Peel St.
Mr Sommerlad said Ms Bartlett had spent time with Joy, going through the wardrobes of both Slim and Joy, and putting together the detail of the statue.
“Everything is on track and the statue will be well and truly finished by that time,” he said.
“We’re looking forward to having the country music fraternity come together for the unveiling of the statue during the festival. It will be like Smoky Dawson’s statue and people will be able to have their photos taken with them.”
It is not yet known where the first couple of country music will be in Tamworth, but Mr Sommerlad said it would be in Peel St and a central location, either near the existing Smoky Dawson statue or maybe near one of the Fitzroy St corners.