Australian country music superstars, Troy Cassar-Daley and Adam Harvey have withdrawn their own nomination from January’s Golden Guitar Awards, after former Country Music Association of Australia chief John Williamson slammed their album The Great Country Songbook for being too American.
The Great Country Songbook was one of the biggest country records of the year and features the country music standards the pair grew up with, including a bunch of classic American country songs. Cassar-Daley and Harvey were up for six awards for the record, including best album, but decided to withdraw in order to repair some of the recent fractures in the Australian country music community.
Announcing the decision overnight via his Facebook page, Harvey told fans:
“I love country music, and I don’t want our big night of nights in Tamworth to be over shadowed by any drama’s over our nominations. I’ll be there to support our fellow artists and celebrate our industry. I do want to thank everyone who got a copy of our album and who continues to support Troy and I. I’m really proud of this album.”
Cassar-Daley also weighed in via Facebook writing, “our reasons for withdrawing our nominations are clear and have been done with the utmost respect to our industry and our peers and the Golden Guitars are far too dear to me to have controversy surround them.”
The controversy both artists refer to is the recent resignation of multi Golden Guitar winner John Williamson as head of the Country Music Association of Australia and the subsequent comments he made criticising the industry for what he sees as its Americanisation. In a letter to the association Williamson said, “It’s as though the Golden Guitar Awards are The American Country Music Awards of Australia.”
“If we are not respected as a legitimate organisation to promote original Australian Country Music, I cannot be associated with it any longer,” he added before criticising the inclusion of Keith Urban as on of the the finalists and expressing disappointment that “an album with 90 per cent American covers” (referring to to Cassar-Daley and Harvey’s record) could be nominated. “We should be nurturing what Henry Lawson and Banjo Paterson started,” he said.
This latest row highlights an ongoing identity debate dividing the Australian country music industry. Harvey admitted to news.com that he was saddened by Williamson’s comments, especially considering he and Williamson were nominated for a Golden Guitar three years ago for their duet of the Roger Miller classic King Of The Road.
“John Williamson did ring me himself, so I’ll give him that, and said he hoped he hadn’t lost a friend over this but I had to tell him I was pretty disappointed,” said Harvey. Adding, “Australia has a fantastic country music industry and I think there’s plenty of room for all of us, the bush balladeers, the John Williamsons, Keith Urbans, Troy and Kasey.”
Harvey and Cassar-Daley said that although they’ve relinquished their nomination and have also declined to perform, they will attend the ceremony in Tamworth in January in support of support fellow nominees.