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Hats off for towns that hurt

Lee Kernaghan : doing for country communities what politicians can't or won't

Story: John Elliot

ImageTo the uninitiated, Lee Kernaghan seems a typical contemporary country music star. Ruggedly handsome. Cool. Confident with his success. Predicably dressed. A legion of adoring fans.

Someone who has successfully crossed the boundary between modern country music and rock.

But scratch the surface and you'll find Lee Kernaghan is no archetype.

Sure, he's found a formula that works. And yes, he's developed a highly marketable image.

Take him out of this aura, however, and there's a bloke on a mission.

A bushie through and through who passionately taking up the fight for the people, towns and communities he sings about, and who is determined that rural Australia has access to services and facilities that citysiders take for granted.

In a way, he's doing for country communities what politicians can't or won't.

What began as a vague idea just two years ago has become a groundswell, with every town in Australia trying to get in on Lee's community service act.

Image"Initially I wanted to get a couple of musicians to come with me to the bush, play some little pubs and pass the hat around to leave some of the dollars behind for whatever the cause may be," he says of what became his 1998 Pass the Hat Around Australia Tour.

When John Laws put the idea to his national radio audience, a torrent of faxes and letters arrived.

"I then realised there were some huge needs in the bush and playing in the local pub wouldn't be enough," Lee admits.

"As a fund raiser I knew I would have to take the idea into the open environment."

He did - with so much success that Lee's second Pass the Hat Around Australia Tour is ready to roll, if not rock too.

The first tour in late 1998 raised almost $250,000 for communities in five states. Story end

Full story Issue 9, February/March 2000

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