LEADER -- Outback legend

Multi-award winning yet refreshingly down to earth, the king of Australian country music, Troy Cassar-Daley, shares the secrets behind his long and prosperous career with Kate Miller.

You only need to look to the title of his latest award winning album for a glimpse into Troy Cassar-Daley's philosophy on life.

I Love This Place, which took out the Aria award for Best Country Album in 2009, is the latest in a long string of successful album releases, and testament to just where this singer's attitude to work - and life - have brought him.

"I really wanted people to see just how happy you could be in one particular stage of your life," Cassar-Daley says.

Indeed Cassar-Daley has plenty to sing and dance about.

His long-spanning career as a musician has seen him take out a raft of awards and accolades, including more than 20 Golden Guitars, three ARIA awards, and a string of Deadlys- awards which celebrate the achievements of indigenous Australians.

On top of that, Cassar-Daley has a wife he is madly in love with - fellow country singer and radio presenter Laurel Edwards - and two children he adores.

But it hasn't always been easy for this legendary country crooner.


Cassar-Daley was born in Sydney in 1969 to an Aboriginal mother and Maltese father.

His parents' marriage didn't last and he moved with his mum to the northern New South Wales town of Grafton, where they moved in with his grandparents.

He describes it as a fairly rough and tumble childhood, but that's not to say he doesn't have fond memories, particularly of his Nanna, whose photo he still carries around with him in his wallet.

Cassar-Daley also learned a lot about hard work during those years, from the example set by his mother. Refusing to be a pension-bound single mother, she worked hard as a cook for the railway in order to provide for her family.


It was during his childhood that Cassar-Daley's fondness for country music began.

He grew up listening to a range of country music stars, quoting Lefty Frizzell, Merle Haggard, Slim Dusty and George Jones among his influences.

His first trip to country music capital Tamworth confirmed his passion for music of a country style and it was his winning of the town's Search for a Star competition in 1986 which propelled him into the lime light - with the prize being the opportunity to record his own single, Proud Young Man.

This was just the start of things to come.

Over the next few years Cassar-Daley worked hard to fine tune his musical talents and in 1994 he released his first official single Dream Out Loud which enraptured Australians the nation over and reached number one on the Australian country music charts.

His debut album Beyond Dancing, released in January of 1995, went on to win an Aria award for Best Country Record while Cassar-Daley himself won Best Male Vocalist at the 1996 Country Music Awards.


Since Cassar-Daley recorded that first award-winning album he has gone on to record another five studio albums and take out a string of accolades and honours.

Indeed, it is now more than 15 years since Cassar-Daley's first hit single but his momentum has not dropped; he has been able to maintain and hone his initial success into a long, lasting career.

"You don't want to say, well this is it, this is our life," he says of his long spanning success.

The secret to longevity has been in finding new challenges and goals to strive for, he explains, even now.

"I'm very content on the one hand but

there are also other things that are really exciting to pursue."

Indeed, this year, Brisbane-based Cassar-Daley just completed a 14 day tour of the States with fellow Australian muso Tommy Emmanuel and is now enjoying a three month stay in Nashville, along with his family.

"It's been a fantastic experience for all of us," he says.

"I've loved being here, it's the music capital... It shows you another side of what music has to offer, then you get to come home and utilise all the stuff you learned and incorporate it into your own career back home."

In fact, Cassar-Daley says there are still "a lot more miles" left in his song writing.

"I think it just makes you a better artist when you're willing to still continue to learn."

"Even at 40, you can go around the countryside and be somewhere different and completely enjoy the experience like you're a young kid again!"

So what's the secret to Cassar-Daley's enduring success? The singer says the key to maintaining momentum is to avoid letting contentment turn into complacency.

"If you feel like you are getting a bit of complacency creeping in, find some other sort of thing that will really make you work that bit harder. Every human being needs something to challenge them," he says.

According to Cassar-Daley the secret to long-term success is finding new challenges - and setting the goals to get there.

"Look I know it's boring," he says, "and you hear it every day, but you have got to set goals."

"Half of the reason I am in Nashville right now is because we set the goals to get here."


If there's one area where successful musicians often fall down, it's getting too wrapped up in their newfound fame but Cassar-Daley has never let his success go to his head - or allowed his feet to leave the ground.

"I was always going to try and change everyone's perception on what they thought musicians were about, we were not all just stupid idiots that go from gig to gig," he says.

Perhaps it's because Cassar-Daley has worked hard to build his career, and as such was sensible with his money from day one, building a future not only for his career - but for his family.

"There's an old adage that once you're a muso, you're always going to be broke and I sort of resigned myself to the fact that was never going to happen to me."

Cassar-Daley says he and his wife denied themselves of those "basic old pleasures" in their early years in order to get themselves on "the right foot".

"We got in and worked really hard," he explains.

Of course, Cassar-Daley adds, it doesn't hurt that he's got to work hard doing something he loves.

"I've been lucky, with the job that I've got, it does reward you in a lot more ways," he says.

"You are doing something that you love and making a living out of it."

And it doesn't get much better than that.

Fans of Cassar-Daley can catch him when he returns this month to kick start his latest tour.

For details visit www.troycassardaley.com.au.


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