Thangool country music singer etched in Tamworth history
ASHLEY Cook's newly released seventh album is his most personal work yet.
The Thangool country music singer recently released Keeping the Past Alive at the Tamworth Country Music Festival in January.
His latest album has since received airplay on ABC Capricornia and independent radio stations across the country.
"Independent radio is good for artists like myself, and if you're lucky enough to pick up an award - that's a bonus,” Cook said.
At this year's festival, he was forever etched in the history of Australia's country music capital as he joined the list of Hands of Fame recipients in Tamworth.
His new music was successful at the Golden Guitar Awards in Tamworth after the first track on his new album, The Murranji won an Independent Brumby Award.
But perhaps the most deeply personal is the sixth track on the album, I Am Me.
Written by Eddie Lowe, Cook was inspired to record the track by his 24 year-old son, Scott who has autism - and serves as a tribute to all of those who walk a similar path.
Its lyrics fittingly tell the story of someone living with the condition.
"Look at my soul and you will see, I have a dream that the world will be more understanding of people like me, we have our pride, our dignity,” the lyrics read.
The album also features Gracemere Cattle Yards and Rocky on the Fitzroy (an ode to the region) which were both penned by the First Lady of Song, Shaza Leigh.
Shaza Leigh also co-wrote Blood on the Coal and the title track with Cook.
Cook has performed at the nation's country music capital for nearly 20 years, but his devotion to music stems far beyond that length of time.
He first picked up a guitar 45 years ago, which marked the beginning of his passion for country music.
At age 13, he took part in his first talent competition at Aspley in Brisbane.
And about 22 years ago, after his children came along, Cook went back out on the road to tour.
In 2003, he was noticed by fellow artist Lindsay Butler OAM who then asked Cook to perform on a Slim Dusty tribute album, which was recorded in 2004 and released in 2005.
Now, he looks forward to taking his new music to Rockhampton, where he has shows lined-up for June and November.
"Rocky has been great to me,” Cook said proudly.
And you can expect to see more singles released from the new album.
Cook's latest effort was a family affair, his wife Toni and daughter Kim were in charge of photography creating the album's artwork.
"It's a good album, every song hits what it is about,” Toni said.
Her husband agreed and called it a "heavy album”.
"I saw the phrase of its title on the towbar from the back of a Mack truck,” Cook said.
And he showed his admiration for the older generation of country music legends recording Merle Haggard's track, Jesus Take A Hold.