Lee Kernaghan

Lee Kernaghan


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In Australian country music, Lee Kernaghan was as dominant in the '90s as Garth Brooks in America. He's also famous for the cowboy hat he wears. But there the similarity ends. Australian country music has held onto its romance with the land, small towns, and farm folk, and although Kernaghan, in his 30s, is the spearhead of the new generation of Australian country, he and his contemporaries hold fast to those traditional lyrical values, kneeling at the altar of those who came before them and carved a very individual path for Australian country music. Lee Kernaghan was born in April 1964 to Pam and Ray Kernaghan, one of the pioneers of Australian country, with 14 gold albums to his credit. It was within the family tradition that Lee and his siblings, brother Greg and sisters Tania and Fiona, served their apprenticeship. All have careers of their own but it's Lee who emerged as the star, by far Australia's biggest-selling country artist. 1986 saw Lee traveling with his father Ray to Nashville where they performed together during the famous Fan Fare week. That same year, Lee Kernaghan was introduced to music producer Garth Porter. In 1991, Kernaghan and Porter started their songwriting and artist/producer relationship. The result was the highly popular May 1992 album The Outback Club, which quickly went gold and has gone on to platinum status. Since then, there has been no stopping Lee Kernaghan's popularity. In 1993, his second album, Three Chain Road, was given its first public airing at the renowned country music festival The Gympie Muster, with almost 60,000 country music lovers turning out. Thousands of Lee's fans waited for up to five hours in rainy conditions to shake his hand and to get an autograph. That second album saw Lee tip his now familiar hat to Australia's country traditions by recording with the "father" of Australian country, Slim Dusty. Kernaghan's songs echo Australia's yesterdays while offering an optimistic, romantic version of rural Australia today. It's a successful formula that Lee Kernaghan has carried through with his subsequent albums: 1959, Hat Town, and 2000's Rules of the Road; where Kernaghan covers classic Australian country and guests with legendary Australian country performers, his new songs fitting the rest like a glove. In the 2000s, Kernaghan continued to enjoy major success in Australia, releasing five studio albums and two hits collections, all of which went either gold or platinum. He was also presented with the Order of Australia medal in 2004, and was named Australian of the Year in 2008 by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd for his charitable work. In 2013, during a visit to the Australian War Memorial, Kernaghan was presented with a collection of letters written by Aussie soldiers to their loved ones at home from World War I to the 21st century. Kernaghan was deeply moved by the letters, and they influenced his 2015 album, Spirit of the Anzacs, a concept album about the Australian military experience. The album proved to be one of Kernaghan's greatest successes and was his first disc to reach number one on the Australian charts, where it stayed for four weeks. In 2017, Kernaghan celebrated his first quarter-century as a recording artist with The 25th Anniversary Album, which featured guest appearances from Kasey Chambers, Adam Harvey, James Blundell, and other Australian stars. ~ Ed Nimmervoll, Rovi