Country’s still as vibrant as ever: Anne Kirkpatrick

AS THE Slim Dusty family gathered for tribute events held throughout the Tamworth Country Music Festival, they also celebrated the rise of Australian country.

On Wednesday night the Dusty family reunited on stage in Toyota Park in front of thousands of fans as they celebrated Slim’s songs.

Slim and Joy McKean’s daughter, Anne Kirkpatrick, said it had been 10 years since her dad’s death, but his legacy lived on.

“Australian country music is certainly not dying, with all the young talent coming up,” she said. “I just think it’s as vibrant as ever and we have our own Australian sound.”

Legendary artist Joy said she saw a proliferation of young people and a surge in Australian bush ballads.

“Australian country music takes the influences from everywhere else and moulds every one of them to its own shape,” she said. “That’s why Australian country music will continue to grow.”

Slim won 37 Golden Guitars throughout his career and posthumously.

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On Friday he and Joy will be honoured with a bronze statue to be unveiled in Peel St at 11am.

Joy has not seen the statue yet but she said she would be pleasantly surprised and was delighted to be honoured by Tamworth in this way.

“I look forward to it,” she said. “We found that being out on the road the way we were, we were very isolated, playing six nights a week, but we always tuned into 2TM where we could and came to Tamworth for the big concert when it began. More and more people discovered Tamworth and country music finally had a real centre. It was somewhere that was recognised and somewhere we were able to meet our friends.”

Joy said Tamworth planted the seed of the country music industry in Australia.

Anne said the whole family felt privileged that this year’s festival was themed around Slim.

Brother David said Friday would be emotional for them all as they saw their mum and dad’s likeness cast in bronze, taking pride of place on Peel St.

“It will be an immensely proud moment for our children, too,” he said. “We are grateful to the Tamworth community. Slim would be absolutely chuffed and proud.”

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