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 11: There are quite a few reasons why I’m unvaccinated. Purely and simply, I’m not ready to put the vaccine in my body yet because I don’t feel comfortable with the amount of data I’m seeing and I’m not seeing. I don’t just talk to my doctors, I research. I don’t want to be railroaded into having it by having my freedom dangled in front of me. I want to have it when I feel like I’ve got a clear picture, just like I would with any other vaccine.
I wish to God I felt comfortable and that it was the guardian angel of vaccines to protect us against this. But there are some questionable things. When I look at the big companies that are providing these vaccines and how many times have been sued, how many trillions they’ve paid out and fined, how many times they’ve been caught red handed by pushing drugs that weren’t safe, and the fact there’s no liability to these companies – absolutely none – and that’s not just opinion, that’s well documented (everybody knows these big companies have got protection in place that they’re not liable to be sued). So, you add those things up and it just puts a big question mark over it. So, “I’m going to take a vaccine that’s been rushed … that’s coming from companies that have been caught red handed before … they’ve got disclaimers that they can’t be sued. They’re making trillions of dollars from the vaccine, and the FDA pay them a fair amount of their funding.” You start looking and go, “Hang on a minute, that doesn’t seem right. Is that allowed?” Because of all that, I think, jury’s out. I’ll wait to see what happens because this seems a bit fishy to me..
Do you think artists/performers should use their platform to encourage others to get vaccinated?
Artist 11: That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard! I’m just a singer, why am I going to influence people on something I’m not sure of myself?! The reason they’re saying you should use your voice for something is the reason I believe they should shut up. Don’t think that because you can’t get on stage and sing that you might as well give people advice on what they should and shouldn’t do. Who the hell do you think you are?
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 11: It doesn’t get any emotion out of me actually. I don’t know how I stand on it yet because it hasn’t really come in yet. There are just too many variables in it so it’s hard for me to make sense of it one way or the other. If I’m forbidden from performing because I’m not vaccinated then so be it. I value the feeling of being comfortable and calm with having the vaccination than being allowed to play again. If someone says, “You can’t come and play here unless you’re vaccinated.” I’ll go, “Okay, I understand. I respect your decision.” I’d rather wash dishes if I have to.
Would you mandate your own personal gigs be vaccinated only?
Artist 11: There’s no way I would push that on people. If I’m not prepared to do it, I’m not going to expect anyone else to. I certainly feel freedom is important in this one. I’m not gonna mandate anything at my gigs … if I in fact have any gigs! In all of this, I wish people were just more accepting and understanding. We’re Australians. We’re not either vaxxed or unvaxxed.
Whether you’re vaxxed, unvaxxed, pro-vax, anti-vax, don’t know yet, we’re all scared. There are so many different arguments, facts and figures and opinions out there circulating and it’s confronting when the world gets shut down. When you’re scared, you do whatever you can to make yourself feel safe, more at ease. For some people that’s getting the vaccine. For some people it’s “I don’t want to the vax.” But, one thing we’re all got in common is that, we all want a way out of this.
Do you think those who choose not to be vaccinated should have the same freedoms as those who do and why?
Artist 11: Are the unvaccinated at a greater risk at catching it? Are we at greater risk at spreading it? Are we putting the population at risk by not being vaccinated? They are the answers I want. If you can give me the clear answers on those questions, I’ll give you my clear answer to that question.
Are you concerned that speaking out about the COVID-19 vaccine will impact your career in a negative way?
Artist 11: I haven’t spoken out publicly because I don’t believe it’s my place to give this kind of advice. I don’t feel comfortable with it. One of the big reasons is because I don’t have the answers yet so how am I going to get on there and tell people what they should be doing? It just makes no sense to me. It’s stupid. Where I stand is no one’s damn business. What we should be doing is spreading a message of love, acceptance and understanding and try and be better human beings through all this, rather than vindictive, judgmental, tribal attitudes.
What are your opinions on people who don’t share your same beliefs on the COVID-19 vaccine?
Artist 11: They don’t have to. I’m not asking them to agree. I’m not telling them to agree. I don’t expect them agree. I expect them to make up their own mind as adults and decide what’s best for them. I couldn’t give two stuffs about either side. If someone comes to me and starts talking about anti-vax going, “They’re idiots. They shouldn’t do this and stuff.” I go, “Shut up.” If someone says, “You’ve got to get jabbed, if you don’t you’re irresponsible.” I say, “Shut up.” I’m not sitting in either camps going, “If you don’t believe what we believe, you suck.” There needs to be more good adult constructive discussions on it, communication, and openness because all, every single person, is wanting to feel okay with their decision. I know people who have had the vaccine who still feel conflicted. Then there’s people who haven’t had [the vaccine] and then get COVID, and other people go, “Wee you didn’t get it now you deserve what you get blah, blah, blah.” It’s all that bullsh*t people are throwing at each other that I wish people could get over.
To those you have voiced your opinions to (whether it be to fans, friends, or family), what kind of reception have you received?
Artist 11: I’ve had lots of discussions with friends who are doctors, chemists, normal friends and musicians and it’s always been very open, constructive and understanding. I accept there are arguments for and I accept there’s arguments against. I was brought up that, when you’ve got a big decision in life, you sit down with a piece of paper and you write the fors and against on both sides. At the end of that, you make an informed decision. I’m basically applying that to this, I just haven’t got to the end of the list yet because it seems to be growing each day.
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 11: That’s a bit of a hard question to answer because my work isn’t just where I’m located. So yes, [with travel and vax only festivals], it is starting to have an impact on that side of things.
How has COVID-19 impacted you and your career?
Artist 11: Everyone knows the impact it’s had on the live performing arts scene, so it’s a scary time for many people within the industry. If they’ve got no other way of earning an income, they haven’t diversified, or if they haven’t set themselves up, there’d be a lot of people looking elsewhere for employment to make a living. So, I understand why there’s such a big push from industry to get jabs so we can get back to doing what we love. Me personally, I value my health above what I do for a living. I believe my health is my greatest asset, worth more than any money, anything in the world.
For other artists in the series, go here > https://tinselandtapshoes.com/tag/covid/