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/
Are you currently vaccinated or unvaccinated, and why did you make that decision?
Artist 7: I’m fortunate enough that I got in quickly with the vaccine and I was able to get double vaxxed early on. To me, it was an easy decision. I’m a [parent] and [my children] can’t be vaxxed, so if I can do anything to help protect them, I will. I also think it’s important for all of us in the music industry. If we want to get back out there, play shows, cross borders, and all of those things, sometimes we’ve got to tow the line and do what science tells us is the right thing.
Do you think artists/performers should use their platform to encourage others to get vaccinated?
Artist 7: If people feel comfortable using their platform to encourage things like vaccination, political issues and social issues, I think they should. But I also understand that, to some people, that’s an uncomfortable space and not something that feels genuine to them. For me, I like activism and I promote it and all sorts of things on my social space. I feel comfortable with it, but I never expect everybody to step up and say something that could be divisive on their own platform. I think the most important thing, if you are going to push or be passionate about something on your social media, then make yourself as informed as possible. I don’t mean, do your own research, I mean, if you’re gonna say something, make sure what you’re saying is backed up at some high level.
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 7: I saw a model in the US that I liked, which was vax or negative test, which I think is a good way we could move forward as a community to keep everybody safe. But if vax only events were to happen in time, when we’ve given everyone enough time to get vaccinated, it’s a good idea. We have to do something to move forward. We have to open up. We can’t stay in this awful locked down, borders closed, and if that’s the way forward, then I’m all for it.
Would you mandate your own personal gigs be vaccinated only?
Artist 7: I actually am involved with some artists who, moving forward, have decided that all of their band needs to be vaxxed to be a part of the tour, which is something I would do. Having your band fully vaccinated is important. While I haven’t planned a tour yet, I would probably go with what was happening generally in the industry at the time. If vax only was what people were doing, I would also do it.
Do you think those who choose not to be vaccinated should have the same freedoms as those who do and why?
Artist 7: No, I don’t think they should have the same freedom. I think at the end of the day, we get vaccinated with similar fears. Even people who are pro-vax, that doesn’t mean we’re not scared we could have an adverse reaction, or we don’t think there is something that could go wrong. But what we’re doing when we choose to get vaccinated is putting the greater good before ourselves and making a selfless decision to do something that’s best for everyone. In this time and space where we’re affected by COVID, to feel that you have the privilege to say, “No, I’m not going to do that because I care more about myself than the greater good,” I think, then you shouldn’t be able to do the same things everybody else is allowed to do.
Are you concerned that speaking out about the COVID-19 vaccine will impact your career in a negative way?
Artist 7: I’m not concerned because I’m quite an outspoken artist anyway. That’s what people have come to expect from me. I am fortunate and privileged enough to be in a position where the small amount of people who don’t agree with my speaking out, don’t want to follow me or be fans any more. That’s their decision and it doesn’t really bother me.
What are your opinions on people who don’t share your same beliefs on the COVID-19 vaccine?
Artist 7: I’m not someone who just blindly follows what we get told to do. I did research, talked with my GP and a lot of friends, and, for me, I decided, after critically analysing information, that it was the right thing to vaccinate. It’s important that everybody who wants to make a decision to go against something that is recommended for the greater good and is researched by professionals who have studied for years in their field, don’t just read things on the internet. Have a chat with a GP or a medical professional before they make a decision. I don’t think less of those people, but I do think they need to take steps to inform themselves properly. If they can’t do that, perhaps they should think about keeping their information to themselves, not pushing that information on anyone else.
To those you have voiced your opinions to (whether it be to fans, friends, or family), what kind of reception have you received?
Artist 7: I have posted about it and quite extensively. I noticed as soon as I posted the vaccination information and put up my hand for being a part of that, I did receive a bit of negative feedback. My inbox blew up. I lost about 20 followers from that one post. So, I did receive some negative feedback from it. But when it’s something I think is so important, I moved on and thought, “I don’t need to respond to these people. I’ve said what I believe and I’ve said it in a way that’s kind and fair.” But a lot of people were really positive about it too.
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 7: I’m in a state that may seem somewhat unaffected by COVID, but I am affected. All my work this year has been cancelled because my work involves touring with people that were located in [other states] or involved touring into [other states]. Even though it would seem where I’m located would affect my decision, it feels like I am halfway in another state with the way I’ve had to deal with everything going on in the work that I’ve lost. It’s been really difficult for me.
How has COVID-19 impacted you and your career?
Artist 7: I put a record out during COVID and I had all these grand plans to make this massive tour. That didn’t happen. Then I had planned a tour this year again, had all these fantastic support slots and full calendar of dates and festivals booked – and that fell off the rails too. It’s affected not only my ability to play shows, but also my ability to make money for my family. It’s a trifecta really, all the things you don’t want to have to deal with … emotional turmoil, financial problems and career being setback, all those things have been real for me during COVID.
For other artists in the series, go here > https://tinselandtapshoes.com/tag/covid/