"She was younger than me/ and my brother and she were the jewels in the families' crown/ she grew up on the road/ the showground her home/ we were all one big family." - Showman's Daughter - Anne Kirkpatrick.

Anne Kirkpatrick enjoyed beating of drums and sweet stage aromas like the singing offspring of Kernaghans, Chambers, Cashes, Williams, Jennings and many more.

Unlike international peers, her folks took her deep into unforgiving extremities of the outback way out beyond where the buses run.

A world of caravan trains and agricultural shows where long trips and tent pitching were not always rewarded with cash register jangles.

Anne was a true roads scholar with correspondence courses that came and went on the bush telegraph.

Despite that Kirkpatrick, now 54 and mother of two, belatedly released her 14th album Showman's Daughter (Compass Brothers-Sony-BMG).

But it was the tragedy of a friend - also daughter of a bush balladeer - that inspired her poignant title track.

Anne doesn't name the victim but its not an infant daughter of Buddy Williams - long time touring mate of her folks Slim Dusty and Joy McKean and aunt Heather.

Kirkpatrick, who did a stint at a Sale boarding school, plants clues in the final verse - "so it was some years later that I heard the news/ that the daughter was traveling no more/ I heard she went to boarding school and when she came back home/ the city and the drugs they came back too/ life was good, life was sweet/ the showmen taught their own, their secrets keep."

It's not clears if there's a video but the singer, with a degree in marine biology, is a perfect vehicle for the soulful saga.


"I am a showman's daughter, formally recognised," Kirkpatrick revealed.

"My dad was a member of the Showman's Guild and, I suppose I could claim ground and space at shows. Our family spent six years on the show circuit, with mum and dad doing up to eleven sets a day."

Song sequencing is important for Anne who cut first album Down Home 35 years ago.

She kicks off with the title track, segues into Drive Away (a tune inspired by a car trip with her daughter) and finishes with paternal eulogy One Of A Kind.

"He'd blow them away when he'd hit the stage/ with his hat turned down, defying his age/ he had a fiery temper/ he could get in a rage/ but he was straight down the line, as open as a page."

The singer is blessed with maternal genetics, vocally, and covers three family tunes - Cunnamulla Fella, Peppimenarti Cradle and historic When The Rain Tumbles Down In July - preamble to her finale.

The Joy McKean penned Peppimenarti Cradle won a 2007 Golden Guitar for best bush ballad.

She punctuates them with Bluer Skies, penned by Saltbush singer Bernie O'Brien and Silos of Home from Don Walker, who earned healthy royalties from both generations.

Equally evocative is co-write with Jeff Mercer on Goodbye, Belinda Butler-Gail Betts rural requiem Neverland and 1902 classic Women Of The West.

Co-producer with two Mikes - Kerin and Vidale - she ensures dobro of Bill Chambers and Mercer, fiddles, mandolin, double bass and Michel Rose's pedal steel are not lost in the mix.

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