"She feeds pigeons in the park and watches the children play/ she wonders about her life and the choices she made." - Evening Star - Gina Jeffreys-Rod McCormack-Lyn Bowtell.

When Gina Jeffreys hit the flip side of 30 she was faced with a major choice - fickle world of music or maternity.

The former Toowoomba hairdresser and multiple Golden Guitar winner had reached the peak of her career with biggest selling album Angel.

Her 2000 disc topped country charts and the title track single even leaped the country repellent moat of radio and broadened her support base.

But, after consulting her producer husband Rod McCormack she chose the second big M - motherhood.
So Jeffreys, who turns 39 on April 1, quite the gruelling road tour circuit and parted company with her long time record label ABC.

Unlike cutting a disc it was biology - not song incubation - that delayed her decision bearing fruit.

Just like a verse from Ticking Of The Clock - the poignant song penned more than a decade ago by Smiths Gully songbird and former Nu Country FM DJ Leslie Avril and Skyhooks bassist and latter day lawyer Greg Macainsh.

"We went in for the tests," Jeffreys told Nu Country TV on the eve of a Victorian tour with fellow frequent Golden Guitar winner Beccy Cole.

"The last test said I was pregnant after trying for 12 months."

Now, three years later, the Central Coast chanteuse's motherhood is reflected on sixth album Walks Of Life on McCormack's independent label Ocean Road.

Jeffreys tune Little Circle reflects a genetic gift of her rings, her motherhood choice in the first single and video Live It and the birth of son Jackson in the title track.


"Sometimes when the sunlight hits the water/ she thinks of what might have been/ visions of someone who adored her/ but she couldn't see it then/ that path that stood before her seemed worth any cost/ so she just started walking with no thought to what she lost." - Evening Star.

But Evening Star - penned with McCormack and fellow singer Lynn Bowtell - is the deepest examination of choices faced by Jeffreys and female peers.

"It's about regret where a woman chooses career ahead of family," Gina explained.

"I wrote it with Lyn and Rod at our house after a songwriting camp. We sat down in the office. We were thinking of the choices a woman makes. Beccy and I are part of a generation where you are told you can have everything - a husband, a house that will be tidy and children. In reality it's not like that for everyone. I was on a roller coaster with my career. I didn't want to get off - I knew I was going to have kids one day. I was rolling - but when I did try to get pregnant we did struggle."

Gina draws the comparison with best friend Cole - also mother of a young son Rikki.

"Beccy had her son earlier but her marriage fell by the wayside," Jeffreys added.

"There's this generation of women in their thirties finding it harder - how to have a successful career and still be a gorgeous young thing. There are women who have their children first and then try to do it in a job. I was 34 when I had my first child - I'm happier and luckier than a woman who puts her motherhood on hold while trying to be successful as a corporate women or another career. The bottom line is if you are a singer like Beccy and me you want to love and be loved. That's what everyone wants - the same thing."

Jeffreys said the song was so personal she was wary of exposing her thoughts to peers and the public.


Then the Dixie Chicks raised the bar by writing and recording about infertility in the song So Hard on their seventh album Taking The Long Way and talking about it on stage.

Emily Robison, nee Irwin, and singing spouse Charlie espoused the virtues of IVF in interviews.

"I wasn't sure if I wanted to put it on the album as it was so personal and didn't know how many questions I would be asked about my own fertility," Jeffreys confessed.

"I went and saw the Dixie Chicks in concert in Sydney and they spoke on stage about it.

One of the girls said we struggled for years to get pregnant and now we have seven children between us. Something like that is such an issue I wanted to be brave enough to sing about that as I'm not the only woman going through it. That gave me strength to record it - but only really intelligent interviewers like you will pick that up."


Despite not having a major label record deal the singer attended a songwriting camp in NSW to write and source new songs.

"I have no regrets about leaving ABC, I knew I would finish the album and hope for the best," Jeffreys added.

"We had a songwriting camp in the Hunter Valley. Normally Rod and I would fly to Nashville and write with Jerry Salley and Jim McBride. I didn't want to go overseas as I just had Jackson. I said 'why don't we go to Hunter and invite writers out from Nashville. Adam Harvey, Beccy Cole and Bella were all about to record. It was three years ago. That was is how much time I took but there was a moment when I didn't think I was going to record again because I love Jackson so much. Then I said I'm not going to sing ever again - I just wanted to be a mum. I had five songs band tracked. I said 'why not give them to someone else?' as Rod was recording all these girls but he said no."


"When the wind blows out the candle/ on the brightest light you've known/ and you're left to find the answers in the darkness all alone/ most days all you'll do is cry/ and spend your whole day asking why." - On A Good Day - Gina Jeffreys-Rod McCormack-Jerry Salley.

The Hunter Valley writing camp also enabled the singer to extend her charity work in song.

Jeffreys and McCormack have performed for the Australian Leukemia Foundation for more than a decade.

They wrote That'll Be Me (about a fan named Louisa who died of leukemia at the age of eight) in 1999 with Nashville singer songwriter Jerry Salley.

"Louisa wrote to me more than 10 years ago. She had leukaemia and wanted to meet me," Gina said.

Sadly Louisa died a week before Gina was scheduled to play in her hometown.

So the trio penned a sequel song On A Good Day for the new album.

"We got in touch with the Leukemia Foundation and said what can we do for you to help children like Louisa and their relatives," Jeffreys explained.

"We have been working with them for over 10 years at fund raising and helped them raise more than 10 million by going to big corporate events. We try to raise awareness that they're not government funded. It's one of the things I have been most proud of in my career. We have met people who survived and families of those who didn't. I met Louisa's mum and wanted to write a song that best described that emotion and validated that emotion. We have met so many people in families whose loved ones didn't survive. They must feel so alone and feel they're the only ones in the world going through this. So we wrote a song that said you are not the only ones - it's really for Louisa's mum. When my mum first heard it she cried and cried. Mum related it to this great family friend who was alcoholic and how the wind's blown out his candle - alcohol's taken away his flame. Although we wrote it specifically for Louisa's mum it reaches other people."


"Little circle, I will hold you near/ like a well worn treasure/ passed down through the years." - Little Circle - Gina Jeffreys-Rod McCormack-Jim McBride

Gina and Rod also wrote the three-generation ring song Little Circle with Nashville hit writer Jim McBride.

"As a trio we write songs of the heart combination," Jeffreys says of a tune inspired by her grandmother's wedding ring.

"My wedding band and engagement ring are identical. That's an absolute link. When Rod put my engagement ring on my finger in Queensland on a houseboat the sun was setting on this white sandy beach. It was most romantic. Both our mums were there and we started partying. It was the drunkest I have ever been in my whole life. Mum said try it on, nanna would love you to have this. I took the ring off her finger at ther wedding, gave it to Rod and he put it on mine. I feel like I have come from a long line of love when I touch it today with everything it's been through and the promise I have made to carry on this tradition. It just means so much to me because my grandparents were happily married for 65 years, then my Mum and Dad have had the ring and they have been married for 40 years and I look at it as not only lucky but it carries with it our tradition of love, commitment and happiness. This year my ring will be 84 years old."


Jeffreys also wrote Song I Never Heard with McBride and Bowtell at the camp.

"We stayed in these beautiful cabins on the vineyard," Gina revealed.

"One of the rules was at 5 p m you had to go to cellar door and taste wine. After that we would sing each other's songs. Rod, Jim and Adam Harvey also wrote Shake Of The Hand at the camp. There was real energy because it was so competitive during the afternoon. In the evening Rod would set up a studio in our cabin and we would sing them. A lot of the songs didn't make album because they were too personal. I'm not ready to tell the world everything. But Song I Never Heard is about fate. So many soul mates find each other and so may roads lead to each other. There are mistakes you make so you know when the real thing comes along. It's about never giving up - a bad relationship shows you how good the real one is."


Gina is indebted to Greencards singer Carol Young for sourcing Never Mine - penned by bluegrass artists Julie Lee and John Pennell - that became a duet with fellow singer Felicity.

"Rod played with the Greencards when they toured with Kasey Chambers in Europe and the U.S.," Jeffreys said.

"Carol didn't write it but found it for me. She has a great ear for a song, like Kim Cheshire. It struck a chord with me - it's such a pretty song."

At the 11th hour the singer found You Make My Heart Sing - a tune penned with Rod and Lou Bradley whose new album was also produced by McCormack.

"Rod was finished recording the album and we were doing all the thank you credits for the slick," Jeffreys revealed.

"I said my heart has never sung this before. Then I thought 'that was it - what a great title for a song.' It was a time capsule of me right then. I told Rod about it and he said the band has gone. It's too late so Lou and I wrote it by email. She lives way up in the mountains near Mullumbimby, about five and half hours drive away. We finished it and Rod came in and we recorded the song. Rod did all the instrumentation with his mouth."


Sixties folk star and long time country legend Janis Ian, a frequent Australian tourist, and prolific Nashville hit writer Fred Koller wrote Ivy And The Oak.

"It talks of true love being so connected and long lasting that it is intertwined like an ivy vine around an old oak tree," Jeffreys explained.

"We originally recorded it just to be the "B side" on my first single, but loved it so much, the album didn't feel complete without it. Rod decided to do it in the most simplistic way possible with just one guitar and voice."

Koller, known for Shel Silverstein era curios, has also written hits for artists diverse as Kathy Mattea, Lacy J Dalton, Nanci Griffith, Lorrie Morgan, Loretta Lynn, Bobby Bare, David Allan Coe and Marshall Chapman.

Gina previously cut Koller song Fool Like That, Beccy Cole recorded Skip A Stone, New Seekers cut House Of Cards and Adam Harvey recorded I Want My Rib Back.

Lest not forget Koller song Elvis Was A Narc - a crowd pleaser for country satirists Pinkard & Bowden - and Fourth Wife Blues, Daddy Was A Sensitive Man, Margarita Hell, Room 309 and King Gets A Day Job for Rev Billy C Wirtz


Jeffreys wrote about her motherhood in the title track and the first single Live It that was accompanied by a video clip that debuted on Pay TV channel CMC and features in Series #8 of Nu Country TV in winter.

"In the video clip for Live It I enjoyed having my family and friends," Gina added.

"My little boy Jackson, my dad and mum and god daughter. There were no famous people.

It was more like a big family picnic with me dancing with my girlfriends and celebrating motherhood. Rod played the song to me three years ago. Kathy Mattea recorded it. We had it on hold for three years. Harley Allen wrote it."

Allen is one of the major writers for expatriate Australasian publishers Barry and Jewel Coburn who also have expat superstar Keith Urban's catalogue.


Jeffreys has also plans a video for her new single Stepped Right In It, penned by Al Anderson, Kim Carnes and former Boy Howdy singer Jeffrey Steele.

"Beccy will do a cameo, that will be fun," adds Gina.

"We have been friends 15 years - we have these alter egos of Betty & Jean. We'll be old ladies in a retirement village together - we have named it Hillbilly heaven on the Central Coast. We will be there with our husbands but we have only got one husband left at the moment. We'll be silly old ladies and dress up in our bowls outfits.

We're doing it at this beautiful old hall in Sydney - set it up to look like a dance school with some gorgeous young girls. One of my friends runs a dance school so we're going to take down the most beautiful young dancers. We're going to teach them how to do it in the video."


Jeffreys has been blessed with TV being her surrogate commercial radio since she won Starmaker in 1991.

"I'm one of the lucky ones," says Gina who also hosted Sale Of The Century.

"James Blundell, Lee Kernaghan and I started on TV here in the early nineties when Midday and Hey, Hey It's Saturday were all the rage. It made us household names -it really made a big difference if you were on them a couple of times. But that was all gone by the time of next generation of country singers. They made you famous and recognisable. That's not around any more - I have always relied on TV to get outside country. Fans can identify more with songs if they can see you, when you hear and see the song. I'm hoping music entertainment on TV will make a return.'

Jeffreys is a big fan of Seven Network show Desperate Housewives featuring James Denton - childhood sweetheart of country star Deanna Carter.

"It's very corny and crass and I love it," Jeffreys confessed.

"I have an addiction to it. SheDaisy had a song in the show and also made a video for it. Sadly I haven't had a song in it or any U.S. TV shows or movies. But my version of Girls Night Out was in an Aussie movie. I would love to pitch more songs to TV and movies.'


The singer doesn't plan such a long sabbatical between recording this time.

"I want to punch out two albums consecutively," says Jeffreys.

"I'm not going to take seven years off from recording again. It's seven years since my last album Angel was recorded. My next album is already planned. I have some verses and choruses in my book. The next album will be standards. The one after that I want to record songs by Paul Kelly and other Australian writers."

Meanwhile CLICK HERE for Tonkgirl's gig guide for the Gina and Beccy Victorian tour that begins at Hallam Hotel on Wednesday April 11.

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