He has already four Golden Guitars, but this year is the first time Drew McAlister has been nominated as a solo artist.
That may come as a surprise, as the gifted songwriter and performer is no newcomer to the industry.
McAlister is nominated for Contemporary Album of the Year with Coming Your Way, his third solo album, which he released last year, and his second with record label ABC Music.
Over the last decade he has found success as a songwriter, and as one-half of the award-winning McAlister Kemp, which has all come since McAlister won his first Golden Guitar for Vocal Collaboration 11 years ago after recording a duet with Allan Caswell.
After he teamed up with Troy Kemp, their duo McAlister Kemp won New Talent of the Year in 2011, and played together for five years, recording three albums, topping he ARIA Country Album charts and performing to thousands in Australia and the USA.
In that time he picked up another two Golden Guitars as a songwriter, when a song he co-wrote with Luke O’Shea, Lady of the Land, won Song of the Year and Heritage Song of the Year in 2014.
McAlister said he was stoked to finally receive a Golden Guitar nomination as a solo artist.
It’s cool to be on my own, and cool for Andy Mak too, who produced the album.Andy Mak
“It’s cool to be on my own, and cool for Andy Mak too, who produced the album,” McAlister said.
Fans will get a chance to hear the songs from the album live on Thursday, January 25 when McAlister will play his show for the festival at Diggers.
The following day he is playing a songwriters showcase with Matt Scullion and Tanya Kernaghan the following day at Hogs Breath Cafe.
“We get to put the new album’s tracks into the setlist and this is going to be, essentially, the first time we get to play these songs live.”
The exception is the first single from the album, the title track Coming Your Way, which has already been getting attention at live gigs.
“It’s definitely got a vibe, live, I was very surprised when we played that for the first time,” McAlister said.
Over the 14 years he has coming to Tamworth Country Music Festival, he has gone from an young solo artist playing with a small PA in the front bar of the Longyard, to playing in front of 700 people in Wests’ Blazes auditorium with McAlister Kemp.
“I’ve just kept chipping away at it, each year,” he said.
But McAlister said the highlight of the festival each year was the chance to catch up with others in the industry, who all converge on Tamworth in January.
“I get to catch up with people, which doesn’t happen often. Normally as artists we’re just ships passing in the night,” he said.
“We always have the ABC dinner every year, on the Wednesday night, so I always look forward to that. It’s a review of the year and ABC put on a party, so that’s going to be fun.”