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Great Women of Country: Melinda Schneider

Emily Allen

Do you remember her as the country singing tomboy Stacey Lee Riley in A Country Practice? Or as the voice in ABC’s Something in the Air theme song? Melinda Schneider has been performing since the age of three and has teamed up with fellow country music royalty Beccy Cole to bring you Great Women of Country and the songs that made them to the Canberra Theatre Centre this Sunday.

Between the accomplished pair, Melinda and Beccy have 18 albums under their belts and 15 shiny Golden Guitars atop their mantles.

Great Women of Country, released in November 2014, features over 20 classic songs in a collaborative tribute to the singers that have shaped them and will be performed live, in full. A lot of these songs have paved the way, gave the women of the time of voice, and performed by Melinda and Beccy will hold a special place in people’s hearts.

Emily Allen caught up with Melinda to find out her take on how the music industry has changed to who she would love to work with.

How has the music industry changed in Australia since your first recording? You’ve been in the industry for 20 plus years and would have seen a fair bit change?

I think there are probably more opportunities now in a way, thanks to TV talent shows like The Voice etc. With them come a whole lot of other issues, but at least the opportunities are there. That being said, music is harder to sell, because of illegal downloads. It is still very tough to have a long career in music. I think that’s one of the best things about being a country artist, if you keep making great records, the country fans stick with you for life.

Music festivals are another big thing that has grown in time, with the National Folk Festival coming up in Canberra over Easter and it’s continually growing presence, have you noticed similar trends in the country music world?  Is there any particular direction you would like to see them move to?

I think there are some wonderful country music festivals in Australia, Tamworth is the biggest of course, but Gympie is a close second. I think to keep these festivals long running, organisers need to be conscious of keeping accommodation costs down. We need to make them affordable for families.

How important are events like Tamworth Festival and their awards, the CMC Awards and the CMC Rocks Qld?

Very important for Country Music, Tamworth is one of the best festivals in the world and holds so many wonderful memories for so many people. CMC Rocks is wonderful event, with a great mix of local acts as well as international names.

Having released so many great albums, what’s your secret to creating and writing new music?

Just keep creating. I haven’t been doing much writing over the past 2 years, I have a two year old son now, so life has changed a bit for me…not enough navel gazing time to write, but I’m about to get very disciplined and start going out of the house to work…it’s the only way!

Your album pays homage to all the great female singers and songwriters that have contributed some of the most loved country songs. Has there been an increase in country music? Are younger generations starting to enjoy it more? Could you pick your favourite country song?

I think Country Music has always had a very strong following, but I think some barriers have been broken down by the likes of Kasey Chambers and Taylor Swift and the change of image that artists like these have brought to the music. I think the Willy Nelson song ‘Crazy’ has to be one of my favourite songs ever written.

Have you collaborated with any of the big names you pay homage to? Olivia Newton John, Dolly Parton etc.?  Do you have a bucket list of artists that you would love to perform with and why?  

Yes, I was lucky enough to record my song ‘Courageous’ with Olivia Newton John in 2008. I took part in the Great Walk To Beijing with her and that led to us working together. I’d love to work with Dolly of course…who wouldn’t?

The essentials

What: Great Women of Country – Melinda Schneider and Beccy Cole
When: Sunday 1 March 2015
Where: Canberra Theatre Centre
How much: From $59.90
Tickets: Purchase your tickets online
Web: www.canberratheatrecentre.com.au

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Emily Allen

Emily has a BA in Journalism and Creative Writing and a subsequent Diploma of Music Industry (Business) after playing in a local orchestra for a number of years. Emily works at the ANU's School of Music and is currently the Communications Coordinator and Secretary for MusicACT and the Marketing and Publicity Coordinator for the Canberra Multicultural Fringe. These role sees her combine her passion for social media, writing, music and arts administration. More about the Author

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