For multi-award winning country music singer, Lyn Bowtell, 2017 was one of her toughest years health wise, but one of her best professionally. Despite being in and out of hospital with debilitating endometriosis and a burst ovary, Lyn achieved a trifecta of career successes, which sees her entering 2018 with a new musical direction and a wider, larger audience.
Already a three-time Golden Guitar award winning country music artist, Lyn rung in 2017 as a seven Golden Guitar award nominee. At the 2017 Country Music Awards of Australia on January 28, Lyn collected a further three Golden Guitars; two as a member of roots super-group Bennett, Bowtell & Urquhart for the trio’s self-titled album, and the third for the track ‘F U Cancer’ co-written with Beccy Cole and Catherine Britt.
Recalling the awards night at which Bennett, Bowtell & Urquhart performed, Lyn says, “Oh man, it was mammoth! It was so much fun to be nominated and to sing. To actually perform at the awards is such a privilege … and it felt really good to have that acknowledgment from my peers and the industry. It just blows me away.”
Eager to lift her profile and to get her music out to a larger audience, Lyn made the decision to audition for Channel Nine’s ‘The Voice Australia 2017’. At her blind audition on May 7, with her mum Glenys watching from backstage, Lyn performed Sting’s ‘Fields of Gold’ in memory of her late father, Noel. Lyn’s beautiful rendition not only earnt her a standing ovation from the studio audience, but a four-chair turn from the judges, with Lyn accepting a spot on Boy George’s team.
“People keep telling me how brave it was to do the show, and I guess it was because being a professional singer, it can be quite embarrassing if you don’t have that chair turning moment. But I looked at the costs and the potential wins and I thought, if they don’t turn a chair that’s a story anyway. It is still amazing promotion. And sometimes you just have to look at it that way. But I was very lucky and very happy with the four-chair turn, and I was really pleased that I went with George.”
Winning the knockout round with her stirring performance of The Beatles ‘Let It Be’, Lyn progressed to the third round where she sang a duet with Sarah Stone to Annie Lennox’s ‘Why’. Though Lyn did not make it through to the battle rounds, she had gained herself a new legion of fans, and eager to strike while the iron was hot, released her first solo EP ‘Calling You’ on September 15.
“I wanted to make the most of being on ‘The Voice’ and to get something down on tape to represent my time on the show. That’s why we recorded ‘Fields of Gold’ and ‘Let It Be’, because I felt that they were the two songs that really got into people’s living rooms and made them get in touch with me on Facebook or social media.”
‘Calling You’ debuted at # 2 on the ARIA Top 20 Australian Artist Country Albums Chart and # 13 on the ARIA Top 40 Country Albums Chart. The six-track EP contains three original tracks and a third cover, Foy Vance’s ‘He Burns’.
“As a singer-songwriter, I really do love writing and singing my own music, but I think you can get a little bit caught in that headspace where you think it’s not okay to do too many covers. And I think that’s one thing ‘The Voice’ has done for me is to liberate me. I remember coming away from the show so much more confident about what I already do, and that was a good thing. It kind of freed me up.”
Brimming with Lyn’s soulful, striking vocals, ‘Calling You’ marks a distinct departure in musical style from her roots in alternative/pop country.
“For me it was about not being confined to genre. I was really glad to just go for broke on it, and open up my vocals and sing a little less worried about what phrases I’m singing that may not be country.”
After enjoying some well-deserved downtime with family over Christmas, Lyn will head to the Tamworth Country Music Festival to perform two shows. Her third year on the festival program, Lyn will play a Bennett, Bowtell & Urquhart gig at West Tamworth League Club on January 24, before hitting The Albert Hall with her high school band, Southern Steel, on January 28.
“2018 is going to be my year of getting back to 100 per cent health, and it is going to be a year of touring. Bennett, Bowtell & Urquhart are going to be putting out a new record, and I think we’ll be looking at doing a new record for me too. So I think it’s going to be a good year for me, and I feel that, and I’m looking forward to getting out there in front of more and more people.”