• Di von Essen | intouch magazine #03 august 2015

FREEDOM RIDING with Troy Cassar-Daley

Troy Cassar-Daley has a reputation amongst his peers in the Australian music industry as being the most loved and respected singer and songwriter in country music.

With a career that has spanned over 20 years, Troy has been awarded numerous accolades including 4 ARIA Awards, 26 Golden Guitar Awards, 2 APRA Country Song of The Year Awards, 9 Deadlys and 4 CMAA Entertainer of The Year Awards. Troy has sold in excess of half a million albums and has regularly received gold and platinum records throughout his career.

This month sees Troy embark on his National Freedom Ride tour across Australia to celebrate the release of his 9th solo studio album Freedom Ride, released earlier this year. We sat down with Troy to find out a little about his life and what we can expect from his upcoming shows.

So your Dad is Maltese and your Mum Aboriginal – that’s an interesting blend of cultures. What parts have you inherited from each culture? My love of cooking from my Maltese side and my spirituality from my indigenous side.... the music comes from both.

What is your best childhood memory? In what way (if any) did your childhood prepare you for life in the music industry? Some of my favourite childhood memories were being a part of our annual guitar concerts with my old teacher Leonie Hayes. These concerts helped me prepare as a musician to deal with nerves. There was always so much laughter backstage I will never forget it.

Who have been the biggest influences in your life – both personally and musically? In what ways have they changed who you are? My mum and dad have been the biggest influence on my life as well as my Uncles and Aunties on both sides, and also Peter and Val White in Tamworth who were also great role models and very encouraging people. My family never said I couldn't do it when it came to music and are always great supporters.

Where did your love of Country Music come from? How would you describe Country Music to the unofficiated? My love of country music came from my mum and dad and to explain what country music means to me would be to say it is music of the people, down to earth real stories about real people.

How old were you when you first started performing? What were those first performances like?

I started performing at the age of 10 and my leg used to shake with nerves every time I stood on stage to sing in front of people, even in front of family and friends. I was very very affected by nerves.

So at only 18 you have a win at Star Quest in Tamworth and a chance meeting with the legendary Brian Young – “Youngie” which leads to your first (and very lengthy) tour. Can you tell our readers a bit about this tour? Signing up for the Brian Young show was my first real big adventure. The tour was nine months long and it covered most of Australia. We touched on every state and territory, playing country music everywhere we went. It taught me quite a few things, humility was the main lesson. I learned how to put up the banner straight as well... that was a very important part of the Brian Young show .... it was a work of art! I found myself quite overwhelmed spiritually by visiting places like Uluru. The many indigenous communities we visited were fantastic to play to and something I will never forget!

A tour with Youngie has been the career starter for some of our finest Country Music singers, including yourself - what role did Youngie play in your early career? What did you learn from this first tour with Youngie that has stayed with you throughout your career? Brian's tour was my first real one and my longest time away from home, I went away a boy and came home a young man for sure. I learned things I still use in my show to this day.

Let’s fast-forward to today. Married to the lovely Laurel Edwards, 2 gorgeous kids – in what way has having your own family influenced your music? My family are the centre of my universe and my music always reflects some of the stages our family are at. I'm so proud of them, it's hard not to write songs about them.

Between yourself and Laurel your kids obviously have music in their blood… can you see a future in music for either of them? What advice would you give to them should they decide to follow in your footsteps? Be prepared to work very hard and never take no for an answer! It's a different world now with modern technology and social media but you still have to work hard, nothing replaces that!

You are the ambassador for Australian Hearing and have written a song, inspired by those who are hearing for the first time. How did this association come about? My association with Australian Hearing came about a couple of years ago after meeting the wonderful Paul Brant. He had booked me for an Indigenous awards night which was associated with Australian Hearing. We spoke at length about the gaps in our remote communities having access to services and I also said I would like to become more involved if I could help raise awareness about hearing loss with my profile or music. It's since grown into a wonderful partnership that I am proud to be an ambassador for.

You’ve just released your new album “Freedom Ride” – tell us a bit about the album - where did the inspiration come from? I wanted to paint a picture of Australia and its diverse people and landscapes through song. Picking stories and characters to write about was a challenge and very rewarding in the end.

What can we expect to see onstage in your upcoming concerts here? This has been one of the warmest and variety filled shows I have brought out on the road, I'm really proud of how our crew gives 150% each night and people walk away smiling which makes me very happy.

You can catch Troy live when he performs at Nelson Bay Diggers on Thursday 6th August or on Friday August 7th at Belmont 16 Footers.


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