A LONGER STORY
Audrey Auld wasn't raised in a white-bread Australian
home. She was raised in the bush, in Tasmania, with no TV and no Pop
radio, in a house filled with animals, siblings, books and live music;
her own classical violin (including a stint with Tasmanian Youth Orchestra), jazz ballet classes, her dad’s jazz piano and her step-dad's Dixieland trumpet. Ayn Rand, Brahms, Satchmo and Peggy Lee were more
at home than Jesus or the Beatles.
“Mum and Dad didn’t want us to perceive
music as wallpaper. They taught us to listen and enjoy, with an
open heart and enquiring mind, to the layers of colour, emotion and
dynamics in music.”
In 1974, at age 10 came the family breakdown, the move to town and the indiscriminate
assimilation of 1970’s supermarket vinyl records: Elvis, Smash
Hits, Helen Reddy, ELO, Jackson 5, Slade, AC/DC, Suzi Quattro and Glen Campbell.
“The first time I ever heard country music was
when my recently divorced mother and her girlfriends were having a party
and were belting out “Stand By Your Man”. Even at ten years
of age I sensed some kind of irony.”
Then came the teen years, which collided with the punk explosion,
spearheaded so colourfully by the Sex Pistols whilst the true angst
was captured by Suicide, Bauhaus and The Birthday Party. Pogo, pills and parties.
Small towns like Hobart encourage individuality. Though an Art School teacher, Sean Kelly, offered a cassette tape of great Country and Texas Music (Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Bob Wills, Patsy Cline, John Prine, Dwight Yoakam) Art School itself encouraged conformity and creative repression. So waitressing, bar-tending, hanging out with musicians and staying up all night offered the greater education.
on the other hand, was filled with actors. So followed Audrey's study of theatre and performance through Terry McArthur,
Grotowski, Peter Brook, exploring that special bond between artist and audience,
without device or artifice.
The path led to Audrey’s involvement in the
“Get Real” project – a project initiated by the excess
income of Dire Straits after a successful Australian tour, aimed at
educating 14 to 24 year-old people on AIDS and recreational poly-drug
use. It gathered together a bunch of Australian pop-stars (eg, Sean
Kelly, Kate Ceberano, Mark Hunter) to record a Neil Finn composition “We Are Young With Everything To Live For” accompanied by
a music video with 4 directors including Stephen Hopkins (who later
directed “Nightmare on Elm Street”) and Alex Proyas (“The
Crow"). The project attracted national media and government attention
and was deemed a success. Audrey’s role was to be part of
the working group who formulated the gist of the campaign (and to dance
like a fool in the video).
Live action film production work followed (music clips, feature films, corporte videos
and commercials), then a six-year stint in animation – from traditional
2D cels to digital animation; from cel painting, tracing and colour styling to running studios,
from small studios to Yoram Gross, Walt Disney and MGM.
At some point in the 1990's, Audrey took a trip to the Kimberleys,
in the North West of Australia, which stirred a longing in her blood.
So she packed up her ute (pick-up) and took a one-way trip to Alice
Springs in Central Australia. Though always an avid poet and prose writer, this is when the words and music came together in song. Sitting by a waterhole
trying to write a Slim Dusty song. Along the way she raided the
record collections of farmhouses, roadhouses and stations - taping and
pillaging. Most of this music was new and strange to Audrey. It was
honest and plaintive, upbeat and cornball-funny, so harrowed the bones
showed through. It was country music. She dug out that old tape from Art School and re-listened.
Returning to Sydney from the Outback, in search of
like-minded musicians, Audrey found her voice and learnt the uplifting
harmony of singing Acappella in a small group, led by Tony Backhouse.
As the music of Gram Parsons, the Carter Family, Loretta
Lynn and Dolly Parton unfolded in her life, it influenced her writing
and singing. Audrey formed ‘The Cowbelles’, an ‘a-cow-pella’
Subsequent Sydney-based bands she formed were the Harmony Grits
and Audrey & the Rhythm Wranglers, both with a focus on swing music
and tight harmonies. As a performing songwriter, Audrey realised it was time to record;
to invest in her faith.
Searching for a producer proved difficult as the popular
focus was on creating radio friendly, positive up-beat songs. There
seemed to be no one in the Australian country scene who appreciated
and understood the traditional country music, like that of Hank Williams,
Ernest Tubb, Patsy Cline or Jimmie Rodgers. Auspiciously, Audrey met Bill Chambers in 1996, on Hank Williams' birthday, September 17th
birthday, and she quickly realised that he was the
person to produce her music. He knew the artists she listened to and
he was passionate about traditional country music. She also discovered
he was also one of Australia’s finest musicians, and father to Kasey Chambers and the Dead Ringer Band.
Bill offered inspiration and refinement to Audrey’s
singing, playing and writing that only the honesty of a trusted collaborator
can bring. He credits Audrey with doing the same for him.
Her debut EP, Audrey, was released in 1997. It offered 4 tracks of hillbilly,
swing, torch and honky-tonk unlike anything released in Australia before.
“Audrey Auld is one of my favourite Songwriters.
Not only does she have a way of telling it straight with passion, she’s
totally fearless. She reminds me of Steve Earle. Scary! Audrey’s
the real deal.” ~ Bill Chambers
Realising there was a lot more music to explore between
them, Bill and Audrey recorded Looking Back To See, an
album of traditional country duets and close harmonies inspired by the
Louvin Brothers, Loretta Lynn & Ernest Tubb and Gram Parsons &
Emmylou Harris. They soon realised there was no record label in Australia
who’d want to release such an old-time record. So, they created
their own label – Reckless Records - in 1998. They quickly discovered
there was an audience eager for the music they created together.
The album garnered rave reviews, won Best Independent Australian Album
of 1999 and scored a story in the US Billboard magazine.
Bill & Audrey have subsequently been credited for
introducing a new wave of interest in traditional country music amongst
Australian audiences and musicians. Their weekly “Hillbilly
Jam” sessions in Sydney and Tamworth encouraged the hillbillies
and roots musicians out of the woodwork and gave them an avid audience.
As she was learning the ropes of running a record label,
Audrey wrote, recorded and produced her first solo album. The
Fallen was released in 2000 and received an ARIA nomination for
Best Country Album, plus Gold Guitar nominations for New Talent and
Female Vocal. It includes a duet with Texan singer/songwriter Dale Watson.
The album is a departure from the old-time feel of the Bill & Audrey
album, with a more contemporary, though still very country, style.
“Traditional yet cool, it should appeal right
across the age divide”
~ Country Music People, UK
U.S. distribution and airplay ensued for Reckless.
Audrey's first U.S. tour was in 2001, playing solo
in Nashville and Austin.
Canadian singer/songwriter, Fred Eaglesmith, was the
next Reckless release, who now has a fast-growing audience of ‘Fred
heads’ in Australia. Audrey has subsequently toured with Fred in Australia
& the U.S., playing support and singing harmonies with him.
Audrey’s second solo album Losing Faith was released in 2003. It reached #13 on the Americana Music Association
chart in the United States, based on airplay. The album features
duets with Kieran Kane, Mary Gauthier and Fred Eaglesmith. The diverse range of songs chronicles the demise of her personal relationship with Bill Chambers and introduces Audrey as more than simply a country songwriter.
“I consciously decided not to be restricted
by genre when choosing the songs for “Losing Faith”, says
Audrey. "The songs were written during a tumultuous passage of
my life, and the album reflects that."
“Those investigating the non-mainstream fringes
of country will find much to enjoy here. An easy-flowing mix of dark
alt-country – out on the fringes with Lucinda Williams and Neko
Case – and more traditional sounds… a combination of ancient
~ Courier Mail, Aust.
With Audrey’s marriage to Mez Mezera and relocation to the
U.S. in 2003 it seemed fitting to close a chapter of her life with the release of Reckless Records Garage Sale : 1997 – 2003 a sampler
of unreleased and deleted tracks from Audrey and Bill Chambers with
special guests Camille Te Nahu and Rick Carey, plus bonus tracks from
Fred Eaglesmith, Mary Gauthier and The Yearlings.
A tour of Texas in 2004 resulted in the recording of
a live studio album Texas. Her third solo album and the first release from Audrey
since becoming a U.S. resident and adopting her married
name, Audrey Auld-Mezera. Recorded live in the studio with Texan greats Carrie Rodriguez,
Gabe & Kimmie Rhodes and Darcie Deaville, along with members of
Jimmy La Fave’s band and Bill Chambers.
Texas is about people – Woody Guthrie, Harlan Howard,
Billy Joe Shaver, Karla Faye Tucker, Dead Ringer Band, father, husband,
and the universal family. It’s also about people gathering in
the studio to capture the magic moment when, united by music, the here
and now is transcended.
Texas received an Australian Recording Industry Assn. (ARIA) Nomination for Best Country
album in 2005.
"her cracked-earth vocals that gleam here and there like broken glass"
~ No Depression
After settling in Marin County, Northern California in 2003
it was only a matter of time before Audrey crossed paths with one of the
greatest accompanists in the world, Nina Gerber. The magic created by
the two was evident from the start and after hearing the recording of
their second show together they realized they had something special. In The House (2006) a live double CD is the result.
"Second to her songwriting is her expressionistic phrasing, something that Lucinda Williams and Patty Griffin share. When she sins that "you'd leave me stra-a-nded," it feels as if her entire body were supported by tiny twigs, each slowly starting to crack. When this delicacy is augmented by Gerber's sprawling atmosphere of arpeggios, absolute chemistry is at play."
~ Gabe Meline, North Bay Bohemian
In January 2005 during an Australian tour, Audrey went into the studio with Bill Chambers as Producer.
Audrey's fourth solo album, Lost Men and Angry Girls was released in 2007. With special guests Bill Chambers, Nina Gerber, Karl Broadie and Raechel Lee, the album chronicles the first three years of her new life in America.
"...her strongest album yet... Audrey's new maturity and confidence is to the fore taking on Celtic, Appalachian and very Australian themes. The singer/songwriter comes fully to grips with her sea-change. Audrey wears her heart on her sleeve and gets it out in tales of small towns, musical heroes and as the title says 'lost men and angry girls.'" ~ Keith Glass
In 2005 Audrey joined the 'Bread and Roses' organisation. 'Bread and Roses' motto - "fresh art delivered daily" comes to life via their work bringing musicians into institutions - rehab centers, homeless shelters, womens refuges, hospitals and prisons. In 2006 Audrey performed in San Quentin Prison which lead to her regular songwriting workshops with inmates.
"Working with the San Quentin inmates is one of the most fulfilling and meaningful things I've ever done. Their writing is truthful, gritty, poetic and heartfelt. I hope we can write enough for an album one day." ~ Audrey
In 2007, seeking Mecca, Audrey and Mez relocated to Nashville. In Music City, USA she found a small but flourishing city filled with music of all styles and lessons in the business that prove invaluable.
A winter project in 2008 became a songbook, Write Out Loud, a collection of Audrey's recorded songs from 1997 - 2008.
Audrey's American fan requests prompted the 2009 release Billabong Song, a 5-song collection of Australian folk songs recorded with Camile & Stuie and co-produced by Mark Moffatt.
Audrey's 2011 release was Come Find Me, Produced by Mark Hallman of Congress House in Austin, Texas. Musically it ranges from gentle acoustic ballads to rock, rap and acappella. Lyrically it reflects the artist as a mature, satisfied, strong woman, unfraid to sing her truths. The album earned a 5-star review in the prestigious UK magazine, Country Music People.
"I'm awed by this album! It's absolutely beautiful!"
~ Steve Jerrett, KOPN FM
“Audrey Auld is an amazing talent. Like a special flower in your garden. Her songs are a kind of beacon of hope, from a woman who cares, in this deeply cynical world we are all stranded in. You need to relax more, play this album.”
~ Paul Riley, Country Music People, UK * * * * *
Resurrection Moon was Auld’s 2012 release, a restrospective of favorite songs from the last decade, plus two new tracks recorded in Nashville.
To celebrate Woody Guthrie's 100th birthday, July 14th 2012, Audrey created a hand-made acoustic 5-track CD, "WOOD".
Recorded in Nashville, Tonk was Auld's 2013 release. Produced by Kenny Vaughan and George Bradfute, Tonk is a breath of fresh country air, right out of a Saturday night honky tonk. Backed by some of Nashville's best musicians, including Marty Stuart's the Fabulous Superlatives, Auld's voice is strong and clear and the songs are fun, poignant and catchy.
Her first vinyl release is a 7 inch single of two additional songs, recorded during the Tonk sessions, but not available on the Tonk CD.
On receiving a cancer diagnosis in 2014 it was clear to Audrey that she should return to the healing and supportive community of Stinson Beach, California. Before leaving Nashville she recorded an 8-song album, 'Hey Warden' featuring 5 songs co-written with inmates of San Quentin Prison, a result of her writing workshops with the inmates.
MOMENTS OF NOTE:
- Song 'Missing You' placed on 'Longmire' TV show
- Song 'Too Far To Fall' placed on 'NCIS New Orleans' TV show
- Come Find Me #1 on Sounds LIke Cafe Chart 2011
- Come Find Me #6 on FAR Chart 2011
- Song "I'd Leave Me Too" placed on FX TV show "Justified" 2010
- Song "Hole In My Life" placed on FX TV show "The Good Guys" 2010
- Extensive touring with Fred Eaglesmith 2008
- "Lost Men and Angry Girls" #1 FAR Chart January 2007
- Audrey's song "Next Big Nothing" recorded by Big Machine recording artist Sunny Sweeney 2007
- Winner Chris Austin Song
Contest 2006 Merlefest ("Losing Faith")
- Nominated - ARIA Best Country Album 2005 (Texas) Australia's equivalent of the Grammys.
- Reckless Records Independant Label of the year 2004 CMAA
- Independant Entertainer of the Year 2003 CMAA Achiever Awards
- ARIA Best Country Album 2001 (The Fallen) -
- Australian Independent Country Music Awards (The Fallen)
- Best Album & Female Vocal 2001
- CMAA Gold Guitar Awards - Female Vocal and Best New Talent in
clip for 'I'd Leave Me Too' won Flickerfest Awards in NSW 2001
- UK magazine
'Country Music People' included 'The Fallen' in their 'Best Of 2000'
- Independent Entertainer of the Year 2000 CMAA Achiever Awards
Chambers included Audrey's "Song For Clax" from 'The Fallen'
amongst her Top Ten Favorite Songs in a House Of Blues radio interview.
- Won Best
Duo 1998 ‘Bill & Audrey’ Victorian Country Music
CMAA Gold Guitar (Vocal Group/Duo) in 2000 ‘Bill & Audrey’
- Won Best
Album in the Australian Independent Country Music Awards “Looking
Back To See” ‘Bill & Audrey’
- Won Best
Band & Best Traditional Album - Independent Country Music Awards
of Germany “Looking Back To See” ‘Bill & Audrey’
in the US trade magazine Billboard. “Looking Back To See”
‘Bill & Audrey’
"honey voice, pure country" ~ Rolling Stone Australia
“I just finished listening to “Losing Faith”
and it levelled me - I had to crawl to the computer to let you know
how much it moved me, even after only one listen. - I’m hooked.” ~ Eliza Gilkyson, singer/songwriter
“Losing Faith is a fine body of work that I am
proud to have been a part of. The songwriting is very good, and the
cast of characters that Audrey has chosen to work with truly helps bring
these great songs to life. I love this CD.”
~ Mary Gauthier, singer/songwriter
“Audrey Auld is an adventurous and open-minded
performer. 'Losing Faith' sees her explore the spiritual dimension
of her life and relationships, while moving into new areas in her music.
Her courage has produced Audrey’s ‘Slow Train Coming’
and the best Australian roots music release of the past twelve months.”
~ Craig Wilson, www.cow-punk-quarterly.com
“ Three of Americana's leading lights drop by
to sing with her, and other big names abound. There's songs here
that'll sound every bit as good on radio as any of Kasey's. And she
looks damn sexy on the cover, (in a slightly gothic fashion).Both Audrey's
voice and songwriting have rocketed into a whole new league since her
2000 solo debut, The Fallen, and its big hit, `I'd Leave Me Too'. She
joins with Canadian star Fred Eaglesmith to produce the magnificent
Iris Dement & John Prine-like `B-Grade Affair', while the Eaglesmith
composed `You Did' is another standout. Fittingly, `Harmony', the Kieran
Kane duet that closes Losing Faith, is, quite simply, beautiful." ~ Kim Porter, Forte Magazine
“Auld has a roughly hewn tone to her voice, which
ironically gives a sweetness to her songs. She has created a following
and persona which is quite unique. Fortunately she steers away from
the boring quotient of mainstream country, coming closer to Kasey Chambers
and Gillian Welch. She sounds like a female Richard Buckner. The album
is beautifully produced. The lilting title track makes for a deep and
well-considered album. Losing Faith does just the opposite to the listener.” ~ Sebastian Skeet, Drum Media, Aust.
“You do your thing so well. It seems to me you
have had a big influence, & continue to do so, on Oz music. There
are quite a few artists who owe a lot to you.” ~ Garth Porter,