Melbourne to Nashville: The five Australian artists heading to the home of country music

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Melbourne to Nashville: The five Australian artists heading to the home of country music

country music
Words by Staff Writer

Five Victorian songwriters are heading to the global capital of country music to further their careers, thanks to a professional development program.

The artists who have been selected for the Melbourne to Nashville SongHubs program have been announced, where they will get to work with acclaimed country artists and producers and build connections with career-breaking industry leaders in the world’s biggest country music market.

The selected artists are ARIA and CMAA Golden Guitar Award winner Andrew Swift, Gumbaynggirr/Bundjalung indie pop artist Jem Cassar-Daley, APRA Songwriter of the Year Ella Hooper, emerging Warrnambool-based singer-songwriter Michael Honan and soul/pop/folk artist Benny Morrell.

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The five artists were among 12 who participated in a SongHubs songwriting camp at the Mornington Peninsula in March this year – led by Australian-born Nashville-based country hit-maker Lindsay Rimes.

At the end of the program, Rimes hand-picked the five standout artists who will take their talents to Nashville from 3-5 June during the world’s biggest country music festival CMA Fest.

The international market for country music is growing and Victorian musicians are poised to take on the world. The latest Country Music Association of Australia Census found that five of the top 10 postcodes for country music songwriters were in Melbourne’s northern suburbs.

Recent Spotify data reports that Australia has the third-largest country music market in the world after the US and Canada and is the world’s fastest-growing country music market. The Melbourne to Nashville SongHubs program is run by APRA AMCOS and supported through the Labor Government’s Music Works program.

Music Works will continue to back Victorian artists and music industry workers, with $1 million in the Victorian Budget 2024/25.

“Congratulations to the five songwriters heading to Nashville for this one-of-a-kind-opportunity. The Australian connection to Nashville is a special one and we are grateful to Lindsay Rimes for curating SongHubs and drawing upon his network for the Nashville sessions,” APRA AMCOS CEO Dean Ormston said.

“The potential here is huge and would like to thank the Victorian Government for their support in making this ambitious SongHubs happen.”

Find more about APRA and the SongHubs program here.