THE HEAT is on to fund, mould and sculpt a life-sized bronze statue of true blue Australian music icon John Williamson AM.
A group of dedicated locals have just seven months to raise $99,000 for the bust to be unveiled at the 50th Tamworth Country Music Festival.
And, the project relies on fans to put their money where their mouth is as the citizen committee plans to crowdfund the project, country music stalwart Max Ellis said.
"John is a legendary figure in country music, in Australian music actually, and Tamworth has decided we should honour John for all the work he's done for Australian music and what he's done for Tamworth," he said.
"Right back in 1970 on this day, June 4, John released his famous song Old Man Emu.
"Everyone knows it, if you don't know the words there's something wrong with you - at least you should know one verse."
The statue will be sculpted by Tanya Bartlett, who just wrapped up a bust of champion racehorse Winx at Rosehill.
Peel Street regulars Smoky Dawson, Slim Dusty and Joy McKean were also crafted by Ms Bartlett.
The thought of being cast in bronze in the streets of Tamworth is hard to imagine, Mr Williamson said.
"I'm very proud that it's in Tamworth; Tamworth's done so much for country music, done a lot for me and the ones coming along," he said.
"If I can be someone there, encouraging young ones, I think that's fantastic."
Mr Williamson has accumulated 27 Golden Guitars and celebrated 50 years as a songwriter, recorder and entertainer in 2020.
It's his prominence that festival organiser Barry Harley hopes will help push the project over the line.
"It will bring a national attention to Tamworth again which we desperately need after 12 months of a COVID-inspired break, just to actually have something for the national media to focus on will be a bonus," he said.
"There's a lot of pressure but we all work better under pressure.
"We're comfortable that it will be finished and unveiled at the right time ... the festival has built over the 50 years based on community and individuals inspiring and getting things done."
State and federal governments will be asked to financially support the Peel Street bust, for information visit johnwilliamsonbronzestatue.com.
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