It’s been just over one month since the launch of #vaxthenation, which saw more than 400 of Australia’s biggest artists and performers join forces with leading tour promoters, music festivals, venues, ticketing agencies, record labels, comedy producers, theatre, opera and dance companies, media outlets, industry associations, peak bodies and global brands like YouTube and TikTok in a new campaign asking Australians to help ‘stop the interruptions’ and get vaccinated.
In response, Ben Mitchell released a song called Free The Nation and started a campaign of his own. Free The Nation Music has since seen over 170 vaccinated and unvaccinated musicians stand up for freedom against discrimination, segregation and fear, and promoting choice, respect and love for all.
However, the one thing we can all agree on is that the COVID-19 vaccine has left us divided.
So, we wanted to go to the source itself, and find out just what the country music community thinks about this topical subject. While it would be impossible to gauge every single opinion, we have carefully curated our twelve country artists to represent a range of different ages, genders, locations, family dynamics, life experiences as well as places they are at in their respected careers.
While not requested by the artists themselves, to allow a safe and open space to share their opinions freely without consequence, we have assigned each artist a random number and omitted key details to keep their anonymity.
In this twelve-part daily series, we asked our artists a range of taboo, topical and controversial questions to find out what the Australian country music community thinks of COVID-19.
[NOTE: OPINIONS IN THIS ARTICLE ARE THE ARTIST’S OWN. PLEASE CONSIDER DOING YOUR OWN RESEARCH AND/OR SPEAKING TO A GP OR SCIENTIFIC OR MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL.
For other artists in the series, go here > https://tinselandtapshoes.com/tag/covid/
Photo by Roger Harris on Unsplash
Are you currently vaccinated or unvaccinated, and why did you make that decision?
Artist 5: I’m not vaccinated, however, I am booked in. I have been told by my management that I’ve got a show booked in [another state] and, if I want to proceed with the show, I need to have one vaccination under my belt. So, it’s not that I’m being forced to do it by any means, I can choose to say no, but that means that my show will be cancelled.
Personally, if I didn’t have this show booked, then I probably would not be vaccinated purely for the health side of things when it comes to fertility. I’m just not comfortable with it and I feel like I’m being pushed into a tough spot. We’re being hold it’s a choice, it’s up to us, but the fact that it means that my work then diminishes, I don’t think it’s properly us having our own choice.
Do you think artists/performers should use their platform to encourage others to get vaccinated?
Artist 5: It depends. The government are already doing that, so I don’t think we need additional influences to shove it down their throat. At the end of the day, we are a very free country. I know we put on our own social media our own opinions all the time, but I think, state your opinion, and let everyone else still have their own opinion on it.
What is your opinion on vaccinated only events? For example, Big Red Bash and Broken Hill Mundi Mundi Bash’s new ‘no jab, no jive’ policy, requiring ticket holders, artists, crew, volunteers and vendors over the age of 16 to be fully vaccinated to attend the events in 2022.
Artist 5: There’s going to be events where everyone’s invited, vaccine only events and anti-vaxxer events, I’m sure of it, not that I encourage separation – we should all be, for lack of better words, not physically coming together, but we should all be coming together to figure out a solution. This is where we create hostility and horrible things can happen. Melbourne is a classic example with the protesters, there’s no one trying to find a middle ground. It’s simply “you must have this, or you will not work” and this is where we’re getting riots, so I can guarantee you if there’s a pro-vax event, someone will come out with an anti-vax event. We like to think we’re all kind, friendly, happy loving people but when you’re put in a corner, that’s when people start defending themselves.
Would you mandate your own personal gigs be vaccinated only?
Artist 5: If I held a vaccination only event, I guarantee you half of my fans won’t come. It would be wrong of me to hold an event like that because I don’t like excluding people. I don’t think that’s right to do.
Do you think those who choose not to be vaccinated should have the same freedoms as those who do and why?
Artist 5: We should. Maybe there’s different ways we can allow anti-vaxxers to be able to go into the public. If we are able to find a happy medium, that’s how we get along in the future and have more peace in the world.
Are you concerned that speaking out about the COVID-19 vaccine will impact your career in a negative way?
Artist 5: Yes, I do. I think there would be backlash towards me if I said I was an anti-vaxxer and I do think people would probably send me some private messages that weren’t too friendly. I think it’s nice to be passionate about things especially this, it has to do with your health, life and living from this point onwards, but I think people have been forgetting that we’re all human and we all have our own opinion. Why can’t we figure out a way to work together in this situation?
I don’t know that I would put anything on my social media, not for the fear of losing people, I just don’t like to create hate. I like to stay a happy medium and want everyone to be happy. This situation, I’m still not educated enough. I don’t know how to pick one person out of the 55,000 different opinions that are out there, so I’ve listened to my doctor and my family and that’s the best I can do because I just don’t know how to weed through the crap. There’s so much of it out there.
What are your opinions on people who don’t share your same beliefs on the COVID-19 vaccine?
Artist 5: Not everyone’s going to agree with me. My Mum, because of her health, is very scared about getting the vaccination. She doesn’t think I should get it all, but she does understand the situation I’ve been put in. My Nan’s got the vaccination, and she thinks everyone should get it. So, if they don’t agree with me, that’s okay. The government is creating this hate and separation between us, which I don’t think is healthy. I don’t want to touch on racism, but are we doing something along the lines of what happened years ago that we’ve been working so hard to overcome still to this day?
To those you have voiced your opinions to (whether it be to fans, friends, or family), what kind of reception have you received?
Artist 5: Luckily, I haven’t received any hate around it, but it seems like, at this point, people are open to accepting that you have your own opinion about it. I feel like half the world is made up of love and peace, and the other half is just hate, especially when you can’t leave the house, every second person becomes a keyboard warrior. It’s been advertised on the news that families are breaking apart. That’s your family. I certainly am nowhere near educated enough on the situation, but from what I’ve heard, I just disagree with the way it’s all happening at the moment.
Do you think your location has any influence on your decision to get vaccinated/be unvaccinated? For example, someone in a major city who have been largely affected by lockdowns might have more urgency to get vaccinated than those in regional areas/other states?
Artist 5: I don’t know that living here has had much influence on it. Purely, for me, the fertility health risks have been my main concern. I think if I lived in [other states], and I was still considering having children, I’d still have the same opinion.
How has COVID-19 impacted you and your career?
Artist 5: It’s been like an unwanted holiday. Obviously, I lost my income. For me and my career, aside from it being very chop and change last minute, it feels like we’re on a roller coaster and one minute we’re going up, next minute we’re flying down. I developed a little bit of anxiety about going back to shows, thinking, “have people forgotten me? Will they buy tickets to my show again once we were allowed back out on tour?”
For other artists in the series, go here > https://tinselandtapshoes.com/tag/covid/