"I live my life a little too close to the edge/ you won't ever find a halo on my head/ I will stand up for the things that I believe/ there's times the devil on my shoulder gets to me."
- Rainbows, Dreams And Butterflies - Beccy Cole-Rod McCormack.

She bared her rump for a tattoo of the sun after a photo shoot at the tiny Cherry Bar in Melbourne CBD'S AC-DC Lane to test her pain threshold.

And she had a different anaesthetic - an ample share of 28 bottles of champagne - to set the right ambience in the NSW Central Coast Music Cellar studio for recording a song on her fifth album Feel This Free. (ABC-Universal).

Prolific Golden Guitar winner Beccy Cole is not a stereotypical country chanteuse.

The bucolic belle from the Blackwood Hills of Adelaide is a panellist on ABC TV's Spicks & Specks, had a character created for her by The Wiggles and she's coming to a town near you.

< Beccy Cole

Cole, 34, also joins singer mum Carol Sturtzel on ABC TV cooking show Beat The Chef when she's home on her national tour.

It's no surprise that Cole, a multi-instrumentalist and stage performer since her early teens, believes her art imitates her life.

And, now after harvesting hay from the fertile fields of her cinematic career, she is on the road again to promote her new album that features six tunes she co-wrote, seven covers and a bonus disc featuring her mum on one of five revamps.

Cole exorcised the pain of divorce from award winning fiddler Mick Albeck in songs on previous albums and in live patter in her stage shows.

But, with the vitriol replaced by affection for each other and their son Rikki, now six, the singer is happy to live out the sentiments of her title track Feel This Free.


Cole, unlike manufactured pop puppets, is not afraid to tell her story in song in entrée single Rainbows, Dreams And Butterflies - one of six co-writes with McCormack.

"Rainbows is a pretty honest look at my approach to life and love. While I admit to not exactly being an angel, I do try and live life to the fullest and give as much as I can of myself in the process," says the singer.

"I was excited from the first note we played on the day we wrote this song, I was desperate to have that driving banjo throughout the song!"

Cole has filmed a video for her single and is filming another for A Better Woman at the Caboolture Muster, held in the Queensland town expatriate Australasian superstar Keith Urban once called home.

Music City hit writers Connie Harrington, Tom Shapiro and Tony Martin penned the latter song that Cole believes reflects her status.

"I think the reason I'm still single is because I have adopted this song's attitude - 'I don't need to be a better woman, I just need a better man.'"

McCormack plays guitar, banjo, papoose and mandolin on the disc and wrote the title track with prolific hit writers Jerry Salley and Jim McBride.


Although Cole split with Albeck more than five years ago they have cemented their parenting and friendship in recent times.

"We were married for two and a half years, a real show biz marriage," says Cole who has been with her former spouse for five years.

"I do feel free, I have patched things up with my ex-husband to the degree of this real friendship. We spend a lot of time together as a family with our son, no way will we be man and wife again.

He's a great guy and fantastic fiddle player and I wanted him on the record. I didn't realise how much it was weighing me down until I did it.

It comes across in the songs. He's the best country bluegrass fiddle player in Australia. I felt so ripped off I was the only girl singer who couldn't have him on their albums. I got the old man back on and that's pretty cool. He's a good father - a bad husband doesn't make a bad father. That was never meant to be but we were meant to have that child and be friends."


Cole thanks the other man - son Rikki - for her Wiggles role.

"I went backstage and introduced Rikki to them when he was two and they recently called me and created this character Beccy Bluegrass," she explained.

"It's great to have a character invented for you. It's a big thrill. I recently took a trip on the Big Red Boat with Anthony and Jeff Wiggle to go to Captain Feathersword's island in Wiggly Bay. Captain Feathersword has many different buttons that have all sorts of different musical characters. One of the pirate crew loves country music and her favourite singer was Beccy Bluegrass. So when this Beccy Bluegrass button doesn't work I appear to sing a song with Captain Feathersword and The Wiggles."

The singer also made the transition to guest panellist on ABC TV quiz show Spicks & Specks without suffering collateral damage inflicted on Urban by a dork comedian TV host on another show.

"They called me and said we like what you do and might add something to the show," says Cole.

"I was expecting the sneer factor - the yehaw and hats hokum but they didn't. They were quite respectful. It's indicative of the way people's attitudes have changed to country music."


Cole, the Adams - Harvey and Brand - Kasey Chambers, Melinda Schneider and other peers use variety TV as a surrogate radio in this musically deprived media wasteland.

Beccy has also had her music used in TV soapies and current affairs shows but not yet on crime shows like U.S. country peers.

"I've seen a change recently in the acceptance of country music and country artists on TV," says Cole.

"I was so excited when I was watching The Castle for the first time and heard Alison Krauss in the background. I thought the Working Dog guys are closet country fans and know their music."

But commercial radio is still stuck in hits and memories quicksand - an April Fool's Day hoax on Melbourne AM station Magic's web page announced it was going to be a country station.

That would have doubled the ailing station's ratings - ditto with SEN, nee AK, taking a bath with a sports clone format.

But Cole is an eternal optimist.

"ABC and community radio have always been supportive. So have regional stations - especially in Queensland and NSW. It's amazing how the volunteers are so passionate about country music. It's great for us - they give their time for nothing."


"You don't mess with the girls out here/ it's a wild and crazy chick frontier," - Girls Out Here - Beccy Cole-Rod McCormack-Gina Jeffreys.

Despite the lack of airplay audiences - even in the culturally deprived cities - sing along to artists tunes in concert.

And they provide plenty of fertile fodder for the artists song sources.

"When I was on tour Dalby in Southern Queensland my ex-husband's niece Cassie wanted me to go out and party," Cole revealed.
"It was such a thrill. I found the roughest, toughest girls who love to party. They study and work all day in the Agricultural world and college and then they party. I met one girl at 3 am and she was so drunk and said 'l have to get up and cut a sheep's throat at 9 am.' I met another who was a wool classer. She said 'I can drink to 4 in the morning and class wool from 6 am. So I wrote Girls Out There about them."

Many of the good old girls hail from nearby Gatton and have also been eulogised in song by Lee Kernaghan.

Cole needed to replicate the mood in the studio so she rounded up a well-lubricated choir including her co-writers Gina Jeffreys but not producer Rod McCormack.

"It took 28 bottles of champagne and 16 girls, and we had a ball recording it," Cole confided.

"And it's just as much fun to do live. All the women in the audience really relate to it immediately and start singing along."

For the record the sweet sixteen chanteuses include Gina Jeffreys, Kate Ballantyne, Karen O'Shea, Suzy Thompson and 12 others named on the CD slick.


"Jesse turned 18 the day the baby came/ a child of wild desire from a long gone flame." - Jesse - Beccy Cole-Rod McCormack-Gina Jeffreys.

Cole also sourced the song Jesse on the same Queensland tour about a girl who told the singer her life story after a concert.

The girl left home at 13, took a Greyhound to the city at 16, was pregnant at 18 and found love at 20.

"Jesse was one of the saddest girls I have ever met, she was an amazing person," says Cole who collaborated with McCormack and Jeffreys on the pathos primed tune.

"I often have people approach me with song ideas about their lives. I really wanted to write about Jesse but I had to push her for all the information. After searching for five years she turned around and went home. She's OK now, she's 28 and two other kids and married a local boy and has a business she runs from home."


A W.A. tour with Adam Harvey that sourced Someone Else's Shoes penned with McCormack and prolific Nashville hit writer Jerry Salley.

"I was on a tour with Adam Harvey and late at night we were listening to ABC radio and they were having a quiz about why it took a guy three months to get across three states," Cole recalled.

"Before we heard the answer I said what an idiot. Then we heard he walked to raise $600,000 for kids cancer aid after he lost his son to cancer. I felt like an idiot judging him when he raised money by walking for a really good cause. So many times we jump to conclusions. Another example was one night when I was on the other side of a thin wall and heard these women talking about this other poor woman. At the end they said it was me and it was all wrong. They didn't know what they were talking about and it was wrong
- another case of jumping to conclusions. But, no, I didn't jump the wall. I added it to the song."


"They call me the clown/ I can juggle while I'm spinnin' around/ take all the dark clouds away/ with a well rehearsed display.' - The Clown Song - Beccy Cole-Rod McCormack.

Cole and frequent touring partner Harvey inject plentiful humour into stage shows as an audience conduit.

But it doesn't always translate to songwriting in the manner planned - check out The Clown Song.

"One night I sat down to write a comedy song," Cole said,

"I couldn't. I thought why do I have to always be funny, like clown. Humour is my coping mechanism. So I wrote a song about that. I didn't expect to be playing it - it was more a therapy for two hours. I played it to Rod - he said you have a gem so we recorded it."
She also wrote Some Lessons - another self-portrait with Lynn Bowtell, major writer in Bella.

"I loved writing with Lyn - there's no doubt she's one of country music's finest writers," Beccy said.

"This song tells my story completely. I've always done everything the hard way and tend never to learn my lessons."


Cole and fellow former child star Jake Nickolai begin their joint national tour at Mt Gambier on April 19 and cross the border into Horsham on April 27.

Their first Hallam Hotel concert on May 3 has been sold out so another date has been added.

"Jake is a cousin of Jedd Hughes, also from South Australia and now recording and performing in the U.S.," Cole says of the guitarist who was one of the headliners of the Nu Country TV Arts Centre concert on Sunday January 30.

"He did a gig with me in Adelaide when he was 17. He was one of my students at the Country Music College in Tamworth. He's really great, he'll eventually head over to Nashville in the footsteps of Keith Urban. We'll keep him here as long as we can. I have given him a job as my support and also guitarist in my band. I'll tie him down so he can pay his dues. I want to help him with his stage presentation. I'm mother Cole on the road. The girls love him."

CLICK HERE for full concert dates in TonkGirl's Gig Guide.

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