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 8: I’m booked in to have it. To begin with, I wasn’t going to get it. Because I’m a younger person I thought, “If I do contract it, it probably isn’t going to kill or have a fatal effect on me.” But I have felt there’s a push to get it. I’ve never been completely against or completely for, I’ve always been somewhere in the middle, more on the against side, but I don’t really see any other choice. I think to play gigs again, travel interstate or even overseas, they’re making it sound like we’re not going to be able to do anything but sit inside our house if we don’t have it. What sort of life is that? If I felt like I had a choice, I probably wouldn’t get it.
Do you think artists/performers should use their platform to encourage others to get vaccinated?
Artist 8: I don’t think any artist in any industry has, or should, have influence over someone else’s decision or political views. People should be able to make their own minds up without scrolling through social media and seeing their favourite artist is pro-vaccine or anti-vaccine. I don’t think it should be relevant as an artist to try and stipulate your own personal views onto the general public and your audience.
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 8: Event organisers can stipulate what they want as a general rule for people to get into their venue or event but, for me, I don’t necessarily agree with it because getting the vaccine should be personal choice. I don’t see an issue with people that aren’t vaccinated going, and I think it would be very hard to police anyway.
Would you mandate your own personal gigs be vaccinated only?
Artist 8: No, I wouldn’t myself because I know what it’s like to have reservations and I don’t think anyone should feel pressured. I would never want to create that division with my fan base. I want everyone to feel welcome, regardless of their stances. Any artist who says, “Only vaccinated people are allowed at my gig” are a total douchebag.
Do you think those who choose not to be vaccinated should have the same freedoms as those who do and why?
Artist 8: I do think they should have the same freedoms. I don’t really see why it should matter if unvaccinated people have the same freedoms as people that are vaccinated because they’ve got their protection against the virus. It’s unethical, we can’t be locked up behind bars forever. I’m booked in for the vaccination but I still feel like people that are unvaccinated have just as much right to go out and enjoy life as what people that are vaccinated do.
Are you concerned that speaking out about the COVID-19 vaccine will impact your career in a negative way?
Artist 8: I do. I think anyone who speaks out for either side is risking a negative perception on them as a person and on their career. Guy Sebastian is a prime example of that. He’s copped major backlash by saying people should have a choice. That’s so unfair. I feel the exact same way as what he did, so if saying that, everyone would then come for my throat as well.
What are your opinions on people who don’t share your same beliefs on the COVID-19 vaccine?
Artist 8: Everyone has their own opinion, everyone thinks differently, and that’s what makes the world the place that it is. There’s always going to be those differing views where people might see themselves as a vessel for pushing political views onto people and, regardless if the artist is for or against anything, they’re always going to piss someone off that think the opposite to them. So, it’s better for everyone to have their own opinions and be able to make their own mind up.
To those you have voiced your opinions to (whether it be to fans, friends, or family), what kind of reception have you received?
Artist 8: I did feel a bit of backlash from friends and family. There’s a stigma with. As soon as anyone knows you haven’t had the vaccine or you don’t plan on getting it, you’re judged and looked down. Whenever someone questions anything about the vaccine, they’re just seen as an anti-vaxxer and I’m not an anti-vaxxer, I’ve had many vaccinations throughout my life. The way that people are acting, it’s like, “You shouldn’t question it at all, you should just put this in your body and worry about the side effects later.”
Someone who’s dead against it, I worry for the way they’ll be treated by their family and friends. In this time, everyone needs to be supported, feel loved and that they have people around them who care and support them. The vaccines’ created a lot of division in the population and, regardless of which side anyone sits on, we need to remember that we’re all in this together, and it shouldn’t be the vaxxers vs the anti-vaxxers like it’s become. The judgement that gets passed down is ridiculous on both sides. I knew I was going to have to get it at some point, but I had questions I wanted answered and general concerns about the origins of the vaccine and the side effects it could have on my body, and basically be able to make up my own mind at whether the risk was worth it.
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 8: I feel like regardless of where I’m from, I would still feel pressure to get it because you only have to turn on the news and everything is a push for the vaccine and, basically making out like the world’s ending and the vaccine is the Savior. So, regardless of where you’re from, we’ve been forced fed that information that, if we don’t get the vaccine, we’re screwed, basically.
How has COVID-19 impacted you and your career?
Artist 8: I haven’t played a live gig for a long time. Playing live is a major part of being an artist and a musician, and not being able to do that has affected me. I feel sorry for the people who solely rely on that as their income. I’m lucky I do have other forms of income other than music so that’s kept my head above the water so to speak, but I have still lost income don’t get me wrong.
For other artists in the series, go here > https://tinselandtapshoes.com/tag/covid/