Australia’s first lady of song and the winner of many awards, including 15 times Entertainer of the Year speaks to Focus about her upcoming performance at the Glasshouse.
You are set to perform at the Glasshouse in July. Have you been to the area before?
Yes, absolutely! I was there for the opening of Panthers. I remember walking across to the club from Sails (Resort). I’ve visited over the years, as you do in this business. But it’s only in the last few months that we’ve been driving up and down, because we have a daughter in Sydney.
You go with the back of the car stuffed full of things to take and give. Coming through the Tweed, stopping at Port and getting a chance to mosey around and look is lovely.
You grew up in the country as a farmer’s daughter and driving tractors. How did your showbiz career come about?
One of those things, where you have to believe in fate! I definitely have to, because where I come from there really is nothing there – fate is all I had!
The local band lost its singer and Dad, being in their company at the time said, “Julie sings all the time; she might be able to help you out.” It really came about from Dad being a country guy who helped everybody when he could, and so I fronted up.
Since those early days you’ve been awarded entertainer of the year 4 times and female vocalist of the year 15 times. How does it feel to be recognised with these acccolades?
It’s really nice, because it’s a peer vote. Years ago when I went to America to work, they equated the MO Awards with the Emmys, so I got automatic entry into the American music industry and could work there quite happily!
What is one of the most memorable highlights of your career?
Being the face of St George for 30 years – a long and happy relationship, but in terms of a one off highlight it would have to be the Olympics. It was kind of the end stop – I was almost on the verge of semi-retirement/retirement, and the Olympics came along.
As I stood waiting for my queue in the dark, looking out over the magnificent stadium at the magnificent horses doing their thing, I thought, “You know, if nothing else happens, I’d be happy.” It was a terrific experience.
Your 30 years as an entertainer has seen you featured in two “This is Your Life” TV programs …
Yes, the first was when I was 27, which was a bit hilarious. The last one probably was the definitive one.
Were you amazed at how the show reconnected you with the significant people and events of your life?
Yes, it’s an interesting thing to be in the hot seat wondering who it is talking behind the screen. It brings out all the important people along the way. It’s a wonderful thing to be the recipient of.
You are a very versatile performer. What do you prefer – stage, cabaret or TV?
A lot of people don’t like doing TV. I do, because it’s where I started. I love the rehearsal period with stage performances, the working it out and getting it to the point where it all just clicks … and cabaret, which is what I’ll be doing in Port.
The show that I do is autobiographical. So I just tell stories about how I got from A to B and the music that comes from all those moments as well – which is what connects with the audience. It’s amazing how what really happened to me resonates with the audience.
You’ll be presenting a very special performance at The Glasshouse this month. Do you still go on tour?
The extent of my touring now is mostly working with Simon Gallaher. I very rarely do my own show. Our touring would probably only last five days at the most, so that’s all we do now.
Are you getting any extra time in this trip, or is it another flying visit?
This one will probably be a flying visit. We will come in the day before and go out on the day after, so that doesn’t give us a lot of time, but we still look around. It’s just nice to have a few hours; it’s amazing what you can see in a short space of time.
What advice would you give your two children if they wanted to pursue musical careers?
I don’t have to, because they have seen it first hand – they know how it works and all the difficulties involved. They are both very proficient about it, but I think maybe our eldest daughter won’t pursue it.
I’m not sure that our younger one won’t; she just finished school last year and she’s backpacking and coming back to do uni. I’m not sure which one will win out there!
It comes naturally to both of them, but I don’t encourage or discourage them – you make your own decisions, and life has its own plan too, I think.
What advice would you give readers about pursuing a career in the performing arts?
I think in the performing arts you have to be as prepared as you can be these days. Not like when I started; you just walked in and did it.
These days your competition is very well schooled and whether you like it or not, you have to be just as well informed as they are. You have to do the preparation beforehand.
Have you noticed any up and coming Aussie singers who have potential?
A couple of years ago I did a summer camp for Simon Gallaher in Brisbane, as one of the mentors. There were a few young performers there who were fantastic; they also performed in The Mikado that I did for Simon last year.
I just keep an eye out for them to see how they are progressing. There are so many but there are a few that are local to me here on the coast that I like to keep up to date with.
Thank you Julie.
Julie Anthony is performing at The Glasshouse on Monday 20 July at 11am. Tickets only $20. Bookings by phone on 6581 8888 or online at: www.glasshouse.org.au