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Album Focus: Lee Kernaghan

16 October 2015 | 4:33 pm | Chris Havercroft

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Lee Kernaghan is a believer that country music is built on songs about our way of life, our country and what makes us tick. It’s all about telling the story of Australian people. 

As such he has a strong connection to the Spirit Of The Anzacs album, calling it the most important album that he has ever recorded. 

“To sing the voice of our Australian soldiers, sailors and airmen is the greatest honour of my musical life,” trumpets Kernaghan with pride. “That is the thing about this show. Being able to bring those incredible stories from seemingly ordinary people doing extraordinary things, to life again on stage is very special for me and for everyone that is involved in the production. We all feel a part of something pretty special.” 

The Songs And The Stories In Concert is a show that is split into two parts. The first part of the two-and-a-half-hour show is all the hits about girls and utes, and the second half is dedicated to the Spirit Of The Anzacs album. It is said to be an epic how that always ‘ends in a party’. 

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“I am always looking at putting a new slant on things and pushing the envelope whenever possible. Every nation has their story and I feel that this is ours. I feel really honoured to be able to tell that story in some part through The Spirit Of The Anzacs. Every single song is from a letter from one of the servicemen. The second half of the show is an epic journey of 100 years.” 

The genesis of Spirit Of The Anzacs came from Kernaghan reading a book of Weary Dunlop's war diaries, which then lead him to visit the war memorial in Canberra. It was there that Kernaghan discovered the letters of the diggers and found that he could hear music in the words that he was reading. It took some time to write and research and create that record and as it turned out, it coincided with the centenary.  

“We worked really hard to ensure that there was authenticity to what was written and recorded. The bar had already been set so high by the Anzacs themselves, that we knew that we had to do the best that we could possibly do to give these stories justice. That’s where the real pressure was. I had a great team helping me on this and they completely dedicated themselves to the task of immersing themselves in one hundred years of Anzac history. She is a big story and it truly is the greatest honour to be the voice of the Australian soldier.” 

In July this year Kernaghan found that he was in the news for his song Spirit Of The Anzacs. His song was being used by the organisers of the anti-Muslim Reclaim Australia rallies. Although artists such as Midnight Oil, Jimmy Barnes, John Farnham and Goanna's Shane Howard asked Reclaim Australia rally organises to stop using their music, Kernaghan stopped short of this, instead requesting that people playing his song ‘see that it is consistent with - and respectful of, the memory of... soldiers who laid down their lives for the freedoms we have today'.

“I don’t think that it is up to me to judge anyone,” suggests Kernaghan of the controversy. “There may be merit on both sides of the debate and I don’t think that it is my role to say who is right and who is wrong. When I make music, I make it for everyone and it is up to them as to where they play it. I can’t control who does and doesn’t play my music.” 

“You are damned if you do and damned if you don’t, but that was my conviction in this and what was behind that thought process. It is not up to me to be judge and jury on this stuff. I am not a politician, I am a singer and I am going to leave the politics to the politicians and they can leave the singing to me. Where do you draw the line? What the world needs is a whole lot of love and there is no better way to spread the love through music.” 

Originally published by X-Press Magazine