DIARY - 25 MARCH 2007 - GINA JEFFREYS
CHOOSES WALKS OF LIFE
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
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
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.
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
"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
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.
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.
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,"
"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
"Beccy had her son earlier but her marriage fell by the wayside,"
"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.
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,"
"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."
VALLEY BOOT CAMP
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."
LEUKEMIA RESEARCH AND AWARENESS
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.
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
wrote to me more than 10 years ago. She had leukaemia and wanted to meet
me," Gina said.
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
"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."
circle, I will hold you near/ like a well worn treasure/ passed down through
the years." - Little Circle - Gina Jeffreys-Rod McCormack-Jim
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
I NEVER HEARD
also wrote Song I Never Heard with McBride and Bowtell at the camp.
"We stayed in these beautiful cabins on the vineyard," Gina
"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
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."
IAN AND FRED KOLLER
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
"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
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
Allen is one of the major writers for expatriate Australasian publishers
Barry and Jewel Coburn who also have expat superstar Keith Urban's catalogue.
RIGHT IN IT
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
"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."
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.'
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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