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 Antoine J. on Unsplash
Are you currently vaccinated or unvaccinated, and why did you make that decision?
Artist 10: I haven’t been injected and I don’t plan to be injected because it doesn’t qualify as under the normal qualification of what a vaccine is. My understanding is that they’re not actually vaccinations that we understand historically, because they don’t contain any of the so-called virus within the vaccination. It’s not hidden. That’s one reason for me not taking it.
Do you think artists/performers should use their platform to encourage others to get vaccinated?
Artist 10: I certainly don’t think they should. I have never used my platform to tell people what to do. I might have shared certain information about studies I found that I thought were interesting, but I certainly don’t think that anyone should use their platform to tell another person to take an experimental injection, no matter what.
They use the word “anti-vax” and “pro-vax” but I find those labels a bit limiting in that it automatically puts you against something. I’m not against things, I’m for things. I’m for choice. I’m for health. I’m for an individual’s right to choose without pressure. I don’t think it’s good that they’re encouraging other people to take a risk with their health.
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 10: Babylon, the pits of hell and it’s not hyperbole. Why would any sane person think, when we have seen through history the trauma caused by segregation, that this is any different? It goes against constitutional laws, not to mention natural laws and common law, but this is why the government is putting it onto the businesses to instil these segregation policies. So, the onus is going to be then on the business and a lot of the businesses are going to open themselves up to being sued, losing lots of money and maybe closing down. What I’m finding out is a lot more people want to be able to go to non-segregated gigs. Even people that have been vaccinated, they want to enjoy a free life for everyone, so I think it won’t be as easy as they’re portraying it.
Would you mandate your own personal gigs be vaccinated only?
Artist 10: I would never, ever, ever entertain doing a vax only show.
Do you think those who choose not to be vaccinated should have the same freedoms as those who do and why?
Artist 10: 100% because if the vaccination works then they’re no threat to anyone. It’s too simple. This will pass. This will be a memory and the vaccination is not even going to be an issue. There’s a lot of pressure from the government for people to take the injection, even if they don’t really want it, people are feeling the pressure of not working, the financial stress and social stress. We’re social creatures and a lot of people are making a decision based on a need or desire to get back to work, socialise and doing what we need, rather than doing it because they feel their health is at risk and that this is a good choice to protect their health. That is the most tragic thing of our time and it’s very hard for me to be dispassionate about this. The coercion and the bullying that is going on is the most detestable display of the most negative aspect of humanity I’ve ever seen in my life. I can’t be silent about it.
Are you concerned that speaking out about the COVID-19 vaccine will impact your career in a negative way?
Artist 10: Yes, but not as much as I am concerned that what’s going on is setting an awful precedent. It’s not the world I want to create for my children. When I got the email from multiple music organisations about #vaxthenation, looking at all these brands, major labels, booking agents, festivals, that were supporting this campaign, not to mention musicians I’d loved for most of my life, I knew, if I speak up, you guarantee you’re never playing in any of those venues, you’ll never be touring with any of those acts and you’ll never be invited to those festivals. But respect comes before music. I need to choose truth, freedom and choice, so yes, I was concerned, but I’m not any more because I’ve already made the decision to speak out against that, or at least offer an alternative.
What are your opinions on people who don’t share your same beliefs on the COVID-19 vaccine?
Artist 10: It doesn’t really matter what my opinion is because I try to contain myself in terms of worrying too much about other people’s stance. If they don’t respect my views and encourage me to be the best version of me that I can be, I don’t want them around me. I understand there’s a lot of artists that are feeling a lot of pressure and that might seem like it’s got a good intention, but it’s politicised almost every element of society and it’s so hard to understand why so many people think you shouldn’t have the freedom of choice about an injection. It shows you how people have been brainwashed so much because it seems like such a basic thing to me. Same with a mask, the masks were proven early on not to offer any protection and only increases your toxins – 70% of our waste is excreted through our breath more than we do any other way – I couldn’t get my head around people that were so quick to follow the government’s directives.
To those you have voiced your opinions to (whether it be to fans, friends, or family), what kind of reception have you received?
Artist 10: I think the best way to describe it is, I had to walk through fire to get to the other side. I got a lot of negative when I first started speaking out. I stood up and said, “We should have a choice.” Even saying that they put a label on you as anti-vax. It’s been very good for me personally to stand in my own truth because I had to get used to a lot of that hostility and anger that was thrown at me and lots of people hounding me on social media. It was pretty bad.
But what’s happened is, coming through that, I’ve built community and met many respectful people who believe we should all have a choice. It’s been a real personal journey just having the guts to speak to my beliefs. So, it was nasty but generally, now, good. Most of the people they’ve fallen away because there’s so many people out there like me now who are speaking out.
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 10: No, it’s got nothing to do with it.
How has COVID-19 impacted you and your career?
Artist 10: Live shows have stopped and that was my main source of income from music.
For other artists in the series, go here > https://tinselandtapshoes.com/tag/covid/