When the organizers choose acts for Australia Decide, they often refer to it as a “dinner” of different artists and styles.
This helps to create diverse programming and produce a live show that avoids being outdated with something to offer most viewers.
One genre that has no place at the table yet is country music.
Country music is a half billion dollar industry in Australia and one of the largest markets outside of the United States and deserves its place on the Australia Decides scene.
But what Australian artist can make country music work in a Eurovision setting?
My choice would be Rachael Fahim.
Who is Rachel?
Rachael Fahim is a 26-year-old singer-songwriter from the Sydney suburb of Cherrybrook.
In 2017, she won the Star Maker of the Year award at the Tamworth Country Music Festival after previously making the Top 10 in 2015.
The award was won by world star Keith Urban and secures the winner with tour slots across Australia.
Over the past five years, Rachael has given over 800 concerts including the prestigious SXSW Festival in the United States.
She released two EPs with the singles “Brake Lights” and “Middle Ground” respectively No. 2 and No. 1 on the Australian country music charts.
She also has a side project as a singer in the all-female group “Southbound” which also reached No. 1 on the same charts.
So other than her country’s success in the industry, why would she be an ideal candidate?
Style with wide appeal
Country music in Australia generally goes in two directions, strong and authentic Australian accents appealing to a domestic market or a fake American twang to try to break into the United States.
Rachael’s voice, however, has a broader appeal and lends itself to the style of country pop.
She also understands the power of the visual, with her music videos eschewing cliched country music stereotypes to show both the vulnerability and the power of a young woman in 2021.
Despite being a relatively young artist in the industry, Rachael has racked up hundreds of concerts in Australia and the United States.
Going through a high pressure competition format with ‘Star Maker’ multiple times is also a big tick.
SXSW is the biggest music festival of its kind in the world and although it is not a TV audience of 200 million people, the pressure to perform and try to break into the US market is immense.
This competitive and international experience would be invaluable in a live television environment, which many artists may find difficult.
Over the past five years, there have been a few iterations in both style and genre for Fahim.
His early career was heading towards a much anticipated American approach with songs sourced from Nashville with sleek music videos and styling.
Lately, she’s been both paired up more in a solo approach while also participating in a side project with a very different style.
The group “Southbound” is a four member all-female country group with higher tempo songs with a nod to the American market while retaining an Australian edge that has done incredibly well on country tunes, including ” Find Our Way ”with Shannon Noll.
Although she has now left the group, this adaptability is something artists need to shape their work to fit into the Eurovision sphere.
Friendly and authentic
Connecting through the lens of television and being true to yourself is key at Eurovision.
Being a singer-songwriter in an industry like country music itself is synonymous with authenticity and appeal to the jury.
Add to that a sympathetic “girl next door” appeal that audiences of all types are warm to, it would be hard not to want to pick up your phone to vote for her.
Not only is she experienced with broad appeal and authenticity, but she can sing!
She can sing pop, slow melodic country ballads but also snap a powerful note.
This live voice from “Middle Ground” shows that ability at 2:23 and something we all know is a must to do well at a national final or at Eurovision itself.
Gender can work
You might be thinking, “that’s great, but I’m not sure the genre can work for Eurovision.”
You just have to look at one nation lately that shows country music can work – the Netherlands.
They’ve been sending out mellow country ballads, male crooning solos and country rock all with the Grand Final lately.
The Common Linnets of course finished second in 2014 with ‘Calm After the Storm’ while Australia’s Jane Comerford led Germany to 14th place in 2006 with ‘Never Ever’.
Additionally, national finals across Europe were littered with country or country-influenced pop music, most notably Anna Bergendahl at the Melodifestivalen. You can find out more about the genre at Eurovision Song Contest in our Top 10 country songs related to Eurovision Song Contest article.
So will we see Rachael at Australia Decides? Who knows! But with the solo work coming out, we can expect bigger things from this talented young artist.
You can follow and discover more of Rachael Fahim’s music via:
And his website: https://www.rachaelfahim.com