WATCH: Yeppoon musician up for three Golden Guitars
THE haunting account of a member of the Stolen Generation has Yeppoon's Brad Butcher in the running for Heritage Song of the Year at the 2020 Golden Guitar Awards.
Freshwater Lady is the Yeppoon singer-songwriter's tribute to Auntie Lorraine Peeters, a Cootamundra woman who was taken from her parents at age four.
The song is one of three nominations for Butcher, who is also in the running for Male Artist of the Year and Alternate Country Album of the Year with his offering Travelling Salesman.
Rockhampton's Busby Marou have two nominations - Contemporary Album of the Year for The Great Divide and Group or Duo of the Year.
Butcher also received three nominations in the 2018 awards, winning the Golden Guitar for Best New Talent.
"That was a surprise and it's nice to be in the running for the awards again," the 36-year-old said.
Travelling Salesman is Butcher's fourth album and reflects a new-found confidence but maintains the same honesty and emotion that have become a hallmark of his music.
"Albums are like a snapshot of your life. There's a lot of blood, sweat and tears that goes into the creation of these things," he said.
"Travelling Salesman came to life because that's what I felt I was the last couple of years. Instead of rocking up on people's doorsteps and selling bibles or sewing machines or something, I'm selling my music and selling myself.
"At any one time whenever I put an album together it's just the best songs I feel that I've got at that time."
Butcher recorded the album in Sydney with multi-award-winning producer Matt Fell, who he worked with on his highly successful third album, From the Bottom of a Well.
He said his Golden Guitar win helped create new opportunities.
"Nothing changed as far as what I was doing; I'd still write songs and go and play them and try to make them sound as good as I can," Butcher said.
"It was the opportunity it brought - a few doors opened.
"I've now got some booking agents helping me put shows together. I've got a manager, Greg Shaw, who for those who don't know the industry was the guy who took Keith Urban to America … and we all know how well that's gone.
"I'm lucky to have Greg in my corner and it's just building that team, building that community that I didn't have before and that's really changed things for me."
Butcher said the recognition from the industry was also incredibly empowering.
"It's voted by your peers and people that I've looked up to for a long time," he said.
"To know that they respect what I'm doing and think highly enough of it that it deserves to be nominated or to win one of these awards, that's priceless."
Butcher is a gifted storyteller and that is clearly apparent in the moving lyrics of Freshwater Lady. The significance of the song and what it represents is not lost on him.
"It's about Auntie Lorraine Peeters. She let me sit down in her lounge room and interview her and she gave me some insight into her life that blew me away," he said.
"She was taken at four years old from her parents and was raised as a white person.
"It was horrible what happened. It's a really sad and really harrowing tale.
"That story's so common when you start to do a bit of research on the Stolen Generation.
"For her to entrust me, a white fella, to tell her story was quite amazing and I did my best to be as thoughtful and honest and open about it as I could."
Butcher and his good friend and talented piano player Vaughan Jones wrote the song - and the reaction from Auntie Lorraine to the finished product was reward in itself.
"She loves it," Butcher said. "When I first sent it to her she shed a tear. She's very proud of it, so that's nice to know."
Music is a full-time job for Butcher now.
"It's a non-stop life on the road, you just have to go where the gigs are. Felicity Urquhart and I have been touring for the majority of the year and we're booking more shows for 2020."
"I might even have some more new music out next year. There's already stuff in the pipeline so you never know."
The Golden Guitar Awards will be held in Tamworth on January 25, 2020.
GOLDEN GUITAR FINALISTS
Male Artist of the Year: Blake O'Connor, Brad Butcher, Lee Kernaghan, Michael Waugh, Morgan Evans
Alternate Country Album of the Year: Brad Butcher - Travelling Salesman, Hayley Marsten - Spectacular Heartbreak, Jenny Mitchell - Wildfires, Kevin Bennett & The Flood - Blood Red Ties, Michael Waugh - The Weir
Heritage Song of the Year: Brad Butcher - Freshwater Lady, Felicity Urquhart featuring Shanley Del - Where The Fruit Hangs Low, Lee Kernaghan - The Trucks Came Through, Luke O'Shea & Lyn Bowtell - Sing Me A Story, Sara Storer - Hayrunner
Contemporary Country Album of the Year: Amber Lawrence - Spark, Busby Marou - The Great Divide, Cornell & Carr - We Go Way Back, Lee Kernaghan - Backroad Nation, Morgan Evans - Things That We Drink To
Country Music Capital News Group or Duo of the Year: Busby Marou, Cornell & Carr, Jetty Road, Kevin Bennett & The Flood, The Viper Creek Band