Tamworth’s known internationally as Australia’s Country Music Capital, but it isn’t so widely known that the city is packed with homegrown talent.

One of those artists is SALLY-ANNE WHITTEN. And in many ways, her story parallels that of her hometown. She was born around the time the Country Music Capital concept was launched, so for her whole life she’s been exposed to country music and a city inextricably bound up with the music industry.
It’s not surprising, then, that this talented young woman has absorbed many musical influences, from blues, to country rock to the pure sounds of traditional country.
It has been a while coming - with two successful EPs along the way - but now Sally-Anne Whitten has finally released her long-awaited debut album, Blurring The Lines.
“The title is a reference to my musical style, which incorporates many influences into a country sound,” Sally-Anne said.
With the influence of producer ALWYN AURISCH, Sally-Anne has captured a real energy in her music.
“We really wanted to nail that live sound, the feel you create when you’re on stage. I’ve used my regular band, and made sure all the songs can be reproduced live,” she said.
The album was launched — appropriately enough for a Tamworth girl — during this year’s Hats Off Festival, with a packed-house concert at the Regent Theatre.
The Lines features a number of songs that Sally-Anne wrote herself, and they are amongst the best tracks on the album.
They include a wonderful song that anyone in the music industry will relate to immediately, Linda’s On The Radio.
“It’s about the frustrations and disappointments of performing in empty venues, to crowds more interested in watching the football than listening to your music,” Sally-Anne said.
“I remember a breaking point at a particular gig, when I thought ‘I can’t do this anymore’. But on the way home I heard a LINDA RONSTADT song on the car radio and remembered why I wanted to sing in the first place.” The cheeky, feisty Manwrecker is a big hit at Sally-Anne’s live shows, and that vibe comes across on the album as well.
“We went for a swampy, CREEDENCE sort of feel for this song, which suited the tongue-in- cheek humour in it,” she said.
“This is a half-serious stab at all the ex-girlfriends of the men I’ve dated. By the time they’re finished with these guys, they have more baggage than Qantas!” Sally also wrote the delightful Count Your Blessings, which was written following the death of a close friend.
“It’s a reminder that there’s always someone worse off, and we should be grateful for what we have. It’s really meant as a reflection on how we all tend to take things for granted,” she said.
It Ain’t Right is a slightly different take on love - the concept that something really might be too good to be true.
“This is almost an anthem.
But it ends up realizing that just sometimes we can get lucky, and then you’ve just got to believe and go for it,” Sally-Anne said.
Sally-Anne’s own songs sit comfortably with a diverse range of covers, including a duet with Blues singer GUY KACHEL on the KIM WILSON hit I Believe I’m In Love With You (he also plays harmonica on the track), and the rocky Real Man. Sally-Anne also does a great job on the powerful Little Black Book, and the first single, JOHN HIATT’s Don’t Know Much About Love, is a real highlight.
Sally-Anne has notched up a number of successes over the years, including a Toyota Star Maker fi nals berth in 2002, a TIARA Songwriter of the Year award in 2004, and a berth in the Coopers Golden Saddle Awards in 2005. She also supported KEITH URBAN for his 2000 Tamworth concert.
With the album now available, Sally-Anne will do a series of shows in Sydney in August, followed by a West Australian tour with her band THE RUMOUR MILL.
Then she heads down to the Mildura Festival for the third year in a row, to perform the songs from her album at a series of shows.
“I’m thrilled to have the album out there, and also really proud to be performing music from Tamworth. We have so many great artists here, and it has been a privilege growing up in Country Music Capital and getting the chance to develop my performing and songwriting skills in this environment. When festival time comes around, it’s just great to be a local!” Sally-Anne said.