Rebecca Franks, Southern Courier
MOVING to Alice Springs was a gamble that paid off for Matraville singer Dani Young, who met and recorded an album with Aboriginal country music legend Warren H. Williams.
The pair have been nominated for Duo of the Year at the Country Music Awards of Australia, known colloquially as the Golden Guitars, after recording album Desert Water that debuted at number two on the ARIA country music charts, beaten only by Keith Urban.
Young said she moved to Alice Springs as a radio journalist and saw first-hand the conditions experienced by Aboriginal communities in remote areas which was a shock for “a young girl from the city”.
“Moving to the middle of the outback was a crazy idea in the beginning,” the 24-year-old said. “A lot of the stuff I saw was quite confronting.
“There are huge groups of Aboriginal people living in these remote parts of Australia and I saw the conditions these people lived in.
“I saw elderly grandmothers living in shacks made of rubbish, tin, scrap metal, prams or chicken wire in 40-degree heat and you think, ‘how have they been doing this for so many years?’
“They were dealing with a lot of demons; alcohol abuse and being trapped in a system that is hard to get out of.
“There was amazing landscape and spiritual connection between the history and the people.”
She said her experiences inspired some of the songs on Desert Water which she recorded in Nashville, Tennessee with Williams who helped to shape her music career.
“In Alice Springs I was singing around town, singing jazz,” Young said. “I performed with James Morrison.
“Then Warren said to me: ‘You are singing the wrong genre’.
“He gave me music by amazing female vocalists in the traditional style of country music ‒ I got a country music education. He was right.
“Warren took me under his wing and mentored me.”
Young said the duo had a huge year ahead with a string of concert and festival dates.
Mascot country music star Amber Lawrence has also been nominated for Female Artist of the Year in the Country Music Awards of Australia.
Winners will be announced at Tamworth Country Music Festival on January 28.