COULD she be Australia’s answer to American music megastar Taylor Swift?
With her girl-next-door looks, cheerful disposition, infectious country/pop hooks and a newly released debut album through major label EMI, Perth songstress Chelsea Basham seems a bona fide star in the making and is hell-bent on bringing some ‘cool’ credentials to the country realm.
“Country-pop crossover is where country is headed now with the likes of Keith Urban and Taylor Swift and it’s a really positive move as it’s broadening the audience,” the 22-year-old stunner told Community.
“It’s not just about dogs dying and beer drinking – it’s the story of an everyday person’s life and you don’t have to be from the country to appreciate it.”
Basham grew up 182km northeast of Perth in the wheat-belt town of Wongan Hills (population about 1400 and shrinking), working in her parents’ Retravision store and discovering country music via two older brothers.
“They went through a real country phase with feral utes, mud flaps, aerials and spotlights and always had their country music blaring,” she laughed.
Before country stole her heart, Basham dreamt of becoming a musical theatre performer and moved with her mum to Perth to attend John Curtin College of the Arts in Fremantle.
But her first love proved too strong, prompting Basham to enter (and win) her first talent quest, the Boyup Brook Country Music Awards.
“I could tell my own stories whereas in musical theatre, you have to be a character,” she said.
“It’s like writing in a diary and letting people read it so it can be difficult, but it’s also rejuvenating and therapeutic to get it out and have no skeletons in your closet.”
Soon after, she met Aussie country stalwart Lee Kernaghan, who remains a key mentor while she divides her time between Sydney and Perth, where her boyfriend still lives.
“I met Lee at the City Muster festival in Perth one year when I stood in line for hours to get an autograph and told him I just won the Boyup Brook Music Awards.
“He invited me to come on tour with him as a 16-year-old, and that was the beginning of our friendship,” she said.
“He is really supportive of younger artists and embracive of the changes – he gave The McClymonts, a real country/pop group, their first start with touring – so I’m really lucky to have him on the sidelines.”
- Chelsea Basham’s debut LP I Make My Own Sunshine is out now.