If you’re not that familiar with the Australian Country Music Scene then Sally-Anne Whitten may be an artist you’ve not heard of before. But may we suggest that you make the effort - this Tamworth bred multi-award winning singer-songwriter blurs the lines between country, rock and blues with a smouldering vocal style evocative of Bonnie Raitt, Linda Ronstadt and Sheryl Crow.
Sally-Anne was born and raised in Tamworth NSW on a healthy dose of blues, rock and country music. Her father, guitarist/piano/bass player Barry Whitten saw to it that she was immersed in all things music which included teaching her to read and write music. From the age of 15 the singer-songwriter was working as a session player (bass and guitar) alongside her dad; paying her dues and learning the craft in front of supporting, but discerning Tamworth and East Coast audiences – honing her very own style of self-described ‘funky blues country’ music.
Sally-Anne’s heroes include John Hiatt & Rodney Crowell, and she’s been blessed to share the stage with many big name acts - but none more rewarding than Keith Urban – for whom she opened a hometown show in 2000. Releasing her debut EP ‘Changed And Different’ in 2003, Sally-Anne took off to France and the US for a run of tour dates.
A song writing accolade came at the 2004 TIARA Awards (Tamworth Independent Artists Recognition Awards) when ‘The Love He Wants Most’ (from Changed And Different), co-written with her now-husband and guitarist/Golden Guitar winning producer Alwyn Aurisch was recognised for a top gong. The track also won a British “Songwars” competition, judged by Moody Blues founder Mike Pinder.
2009 saw Sally-Anne release her debut album ‘Blurring The Lines’, a mix of covers and original material, which went on to deliver two Top 30 international (Belgium, France and Germany) and Australian Country Music Radio hits with a stunning cover of John Hiatt’s ‘Don’t Know Much About Love’ and her own composition ‘Manwrecker’.
Three years later ‘Sell My Soul’ was born – again produced by Aurisch. Second single, ‘My Place In The World’, co-written with close friend and fellow Tamworth resident Allison Forbes was a lyrical tale about a musician’s constant struggle between sustaining a real life and chasing a career. The song went on to be a grand finalist in the Australian Songwriting Awards.
Sally-Anne explains ‘The moral to the story is of course, that even though I struggle with it, music is the only true place where I feel like I really belong in the world. So whether I achieve a chart hit or not, it's something in my blood that I have to do. It's a family love for music that's been passed down through the generations. Performing, writing and recording is where I am meant to be... my place in the world.’
Over the next couple of years music was put on the back burner while Sally-Anne dealt with some of life’s twists and turns. Grieving the loss of some dear family and friends and dealing with these hardships and some bouts of depression that followed entailed a tough four years for the singer-songwriter. Sally-Anne threw in the towel at her receptionist day job and returned to her musical studies, her firm belief is that she will always be a student of music and welcomes continued study to be a better and more educated musician.
October 2016 saw the release of single, ‘The Life You Life Behind’ written following the very unexpected and sudden loss of her 19 year old nephew. What should have been just another routine trip to the supermarket triggered an emotional outpouring that lead to the realisation of how deep and difficult grief really is.
Sally-Anne’s latest offering, ‘Burgundy Street’ (release date Feb 2, 2018), was inspired by her life-long dream to visit New Orleans, which she did in 2015. The album cover depicts the singer’s holiday digs - where she wrote some of the tracks and the place where she was inspired to cover Jon Cleary and Alan Toussaint songs. If history is anything to go by, it’s no surprise that this latest album is a mixed bag when it comes to musical genre. Sally-Anne Whitten has yet again embraced her unique blend of swampy blues, R&B, southern rock and West Coast country.
The album boasts collaborations with Sally-Anne’s favourite Australian singers, songwriters and musicians including James Craswell aka Jimmy Craz, Rae Moody, the aforementioned Allison Forbes and Mick Pealing of country-rock band Stars. The album’s creator muses, ‘I wanted an album full of songs that meant something to me, that were groovy, and that we wanted to play live’. Mission accomplished.
‘Changed And Different’ (EP - 2003) www.sallyannewhitten.com
‘On The Inside’ (EP – 2006) www.facebook.com/SA.Whitten/
‘Blurring Lines’ (2009) https://www.instagram.com/sallyannewhitten/
‘Sell My Soul’ (2012) https://www.youtube.com/user/salwhit
‘Burgundy Street’ (Feb 2, 2018)