By Stephanie Gardiner in Tamworth
Country duo Felicity Urquhart and Josh Cunningham say love makes their musical partnership stronger.
Now it has helped them sweep the 52nd Golden Guitar Awards at the Tamworth Country Music Festival.
The duo took out three of the top categories at the ceremony on Saturday night, claiming song of the year and single of the year for their track Size Up.
They also won traditional country album of the year for their offering Birdsong, which skilfully combines sweet ballads and mournful laments.
Cunningham, the guitarist for The Waifs, said writing, recording and touring with his partner added an extra level of meaning to their work.
“It does help infuse a lot of joy into it,” Cunningham told AAP in an interview ahead of the awards.
Their 2021 debut album The Song Club earned them an ARIA nomination, recognition that proved inspiring.
“We worked so hard at setting up the first album, then touring and you’ve got to keep that momentum going,” said Urquhart, who now has more than 10 Golden Guitars to her name.
“This thing is really good and we love playing together.”
New Zealand singer-songwriter Kaylee Bell won female artist of the year after a stellar year on the international stage.
Bell said being nominated in the top category and representing women in the industry was an honour.
“That’s a space I feel is really important,” she said ahead of the awards.
“There’s such an incredible thing with the Australian country industry … where people get to know each other and care about each other and become fans of each other’s music.”
Bell, the most streamed female country artist in Australasia, played stadium shows supporting Ed Sheeran on the NZ leg of his Mathematics tour last year.
In December, she won the US Country Music Association’s Jeff Walker global country artist award, which recognises musicians signed outside America.
Sensation Brad Cox also cleaned up, taking home male artist of the year, contemporary country album of the year and top-selling album for Acres.
The Wolfe Brothers won album of the year for Livin’ the Dream, along with duo of the year.
They were also honoured with vocal collaboration of the year for their single with Travis Collins, Runnin’ the Country.
Max Jackson, who was an ambassador for the festival, won her first Golden Guitar for best new talent.
The awards have a long tradition of recognising country artists in their own right, without having to compete with mainstream musicians.
“Awards and recognition, especially in the creative industries, is so important because it really is a calling,” awards producer Peter Ross told AAP.
“A lot of artists are born to do it and it’s a hard road, so anything we can do to help give recognition along the way is really important.”
The Golden Guitars cap off the 10-day festival, which has attracted thousands of visitors to the New England region.
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