When I called Lee Kernaghan recently for a chat about his new autobiography he mentions his respect for ANZAC hero, Tassie’s own Teddy Sheean, for whom there is a song on his album ‘Spirit of the ANZACS’. This is Lee, always giving others their due and just like his dad always told him, to ‘beware of your own publicity and don’t get a swell head!’
The Kernaghan name means ‘victorious’ and Lee ‘pasture’ or ‘meadow’ appropriate monikers indeed for a musician and man who has kept close to his origin on the land but at the same time has achieved victory in practically everything he has put his talents to.
Although it is the release of Lee’s autobiography that we are scheduled to speak of it would be amiss not to mention it is the second week his album ‘Spirit of the Anzacs’ has remained number one on the charts. An autographed deluxe edition was presented to Prince Harry, a fact of which Lee is very proud, to Lee it is very important and right the ANZACS be honoured.
The fact that the genesis of the album came to Lee on reading the Anzac letters of the diggers landing at Gallipoli demonstrates a pattern in Lee’s creative process. For one, he’s a great reader, that extends from the classics to modern literature although there is a special affinity with those great Australian writers Henry Lawson and Banjo Patterson, particularly the former. It’s this extensive reading that sparks Lee’s creative ideas in writing music.
Lee started reading Lawson and Patterson when he was at a crossroad in his career, musically, successful but not yet finding his niche. When he was encouraged to explore these great storytellers, he discovered these were his own people and they told the stories he wanted to tell and so was born ‘Boys from the Bush’. If prompted Lee will admit this song which started it all has special meaning for him.
It was always going to be music for Lee and as he tells me he only wore a tie for four months! When he dabbled in a career in real estate.
Lee had always had a special relationship with Tasmania, every time he’s toured he’s had sell out shows in Hobart and Launceston and of course that relationship has solidified more with Lee personally choosing the Tasmania’s own Wolf Brothers to tour with him and be his band, after seeing them compete in Australia’s Got Talent. Lee calls the Wolfe Brothers one of the greatest bands on the planet!
The Nashville’s song writing process which so many artists pursue doesn’t have any attraction for Lee, he finds the brief case, nine to five regime too clinical and prefers to sit in a shack that he so beautifully puts it in his novel ‘holds the DNA of its former occupants (true country people) in a rickety old chair.’ Writing in places like this brings out Lee’s true creativity.
Lee himself has definitely found his niche and one could say what need has Lee for a real estate career when he is king of all of Australian country.
Lee’s book ‘Boy from the Bush’ is out now as is his CD ‘Spirit of the Anzacs’.