"If I was rich I would spend it on my own/ if I was dignified I'd only smoke at home/ if I was dark I would only dress in black/ if I was chosen I would only give it back." - 'If I Were You.' - Kasey Chambers.

When Kasey Chambers leaped the commercial radio moat after a decade of neglect she joined the Dixie Chicks in biting the hands that can bleed an artist.

Chambers breakthrough hit 'Not Pretty Enough' - a parody of demographic driven radio - was the second single from second album 'Barricades & Brickwalls.'

But the Dixie Chicks waited six albums to drive their Justins into the corporate chain clones with their hit single 'Long Time Gone.'

Kasey Chambers

And the Texan trio booted their myopic monopolists with a satiric song by bluegrass writer Darrell Scott with similar sting to the Larry Cordle-Larry Shell song 'Murder On Music Row.'

Chambers didn't alert radio to her song's message until it was a hit.

"It wasn't much of a risk, really, no-one knew until I told them what it was about," Kasey, 28, told Nu Country in 2002.

"They thought it was a love song. There is a little bit of irony, it helps me even enjoy it a little bit better."

Although current single 'Million Tears' didn't score the same airplay it earned enough to fuel national tours with Fred Eaglesmith and Troy Cassar-Daley whose fifth disc 'Long Way Home' is on brother Nash Chambers Essence label.

'Million Tears' and its successor 'If I Were You' are lachrymose love songs.
And programmers, who dictate what infiltrates their tight play lists, will have to rely on surveys as their radio radar.

None of this phases the Nullarbor reared minstrel whose album sales exceed 600,000 with hefty figures in the highly competitive American market.

International sales, with minimal airplay and touring, are a veracious barometer of how the unique nature of Kasey has been marketed and devoured by TV and the print media.

Chambers' songs have been in TV dramas diverse as 'The Sopranos', 'Crossing Jordan', 'Always Greener,' 'Dawson's Creek' and shows dedicated to pursuit of inflatable leather by grown men.

Chambers, unlike her long neglected country peers, appreciates why she has not been treated like a leper by radio.

"I know how they feel, there was a long time when radio wouldn't play me," Kasey empathises, "it's not as if they're going to play every single of mine, It has to be a lot closer to being commercial, they're not all going to be No 1 on the radio."

The singer believes that TV and the print media were her stardom springboard after a decade of beating around the bush with much acclaim but no rewards with the 'Dead Ringer Band.'

"My biggest support here in Australia has been TV," Kasey recalls, "we were on 'The Panel' four years ago when we were absolute nobodies. But they took a punt and we did 'Rove' and 'GMA' and they were really supportive. Even bigger than that was the Press has been our biggest support. One of the biggest things was to get my name out there."
Chambers draws parallels with her struggle and that of protégé Catherine Britt whose music is vastly different to what Kasey is performing now but shares a similar passion for the genre's roots.

"Catherine is getting a lot of good Press, similar to when we were starting out, how it happened with us," says Kasey, "I did the Chris Isaak tour four or five years ago. She also toured with Chris."

Motherhood put a hand brake on tours but enabled her to maximise quality time with actor-director partner Cory Hopper and son Talon by writing together.

"Cory is good with the lyrics, that's normally my side of it,' says Chambers, "we prop Talon up on the couch and he sits there with us. He brings in some inspiration, smiles at all the right times. Cory came up with a lot more of the lyrics than I have lately."
Chambers, infrequent co-writer, is hoping some of their collaborations make her third album.

"There are probably more love songs, a couple of typical Kasey Chambers how I'm feeling at the moment type of thing," says Kasey, "who knows if they'll turn up on albums. I'm really enjoying it at the moment, it's bringing out new inspiration in me because I've never done much co-writing. I find it hard to pour out my heart to people in the room in a song. I guess it's easy with Cory because he and I are so close and he's the person I'm pouring my heart out to normally anyway. You make the most of it. It's definitely got that positive thread that wasn't there before but we can still make them sound pretty sad."
Such candour is refreshing in an industry where style rules over substance and fashion fuels the fame flame.

Chambers, whose life and career are explored on her debut DVD, has lost none of the country charm that disarmed cynics used to fast falling stars.

Her long stints in the outback and road and shorter terms in school have instilled that strong bush work ethic.

"The number one thing for success is touring," she says of a decade on the road with her family band.

"You have to get out and tour and ground a fan base, That's the best way to do it, we toured for so long they couldn't ignore us in the end. We were in their faces all the time. It helps to get your name out there, then you can do shows on your own. It's good for learning. Every young artist should get out there and see what its like to do the hard touring, get to know how to work a crowd, talk to your fans, meet the people who are actually buying your music. They'll let you know better than anyone where your music should be headed and who you want to be playing it."

Chambers reached a level where she enjoys the fruits of her talent and toil - she has invested in a home, motherhood and a bigger P.A.

"It's not as if we're put putting money in stocks and shares and real estate," Kasey laughs, I've invested mine in having a baby, That's cost enough but it's a precious investment."

Chambers identifies more with Lucinda Williams, Emmylou Harris and U.S. touring partner Matthew Ryan.

Her road to nirvana is similar but tougher than the Dixie Chicks who played for tips on Dallas street corners and cut three albums in a decade before selling 22 million albums in four years.

But she and Britt understand the sentiments of international chart topper 'Long Time Gone.'

"We listen to the radio to hear what's cooking/ but the music ain't got no soul/ now they sound tired but they sound haggard/ they got money but they don't have cash/ they got Junior but don't have Hank."

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