The seeds for Sharon Heaslip’s musical career were planted as a small child while sitting at her grandfather’s house on Upper Cobargo Road playing air piano.
“He would make me practice with my fingers,” she said with a laugh from her home town of Mackay.
“I never wanted to be on stage, it just happened.”
Born in Bega, Heaslip lived in Tathra until the age of five and has gone on to become one of Australia's leading female bush ballad and country vocalists.
“Both sides of the family would sing around the house, I was surrounded by it,” she said.
These days Heaslip tours the country, playing to a sea of caravans at festivals from Mudgee to Warrnambool.
“Country fans want to hear stories of the land, and Slim Dusty has left a great legacy,” she said.
“My shows are quite intimate, a mixture of new songs with some oldies thrown in.
“There’s a massiv following for the older style, and traditional styles because they’re not digital.”
Her work alongside Slim Dusty’s band has inspired her career, and much of her songwriting.
“He took the music to the people, and he sang about the land to the people,” she said.
“It was an integral part of his success.
“People love the music because we take shows to your doorstep.”
Much of the genre is played live, away from the overlooking power of major record labels, and while Heaslip has a new album on the way, many artists with large followings don’t appear on Spotify playlists, or MTV specials.
“It’s not hanging around the bar with a mosh pit, but at say Mildura there’s ten to twenty thousand people all watching independent artists,” Heaslip said.
“There’s not a month I couldn’t be touring, and it’s all your grey nomads who show up.”
Heaslip’s relentless touring is paying off, and now promoters are headhunting her talent she remains humble.
“When you get to my age you look at it in perspective,” she said.
“There’s people a hell of a lot older than me travelling eight hours to a show.”
Heaslip is excited by her new album, titled A Thousand Different Pictures, and the opportunity to release new music to her fans.
Heaslip’s grandparents played together in Bega’s Salvation Army band, and with many family members still living in the Bega Valley, her gig at the Wolumla Hall on June 10 will be followed by a family reunion.
The highly anticipated show will be a once in a decade experience.
“It will be wonderful for some aunts and uncles to see my music,” Heaslip said.