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Interview: RICK PRICE

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The singer with a voice as smooth as silk, Rick Price, returns to Australia this month for a tour that will combine festival performances with some very special intimate shows at selected venues around the country. And he will be previewing tracks from his new album which is due to be released early next year.

I had the pleasure of chatting with Rick recently, via Skype, during a short break from recording his new album in Nashville. “I’m very excited,” he tells me. “I love coming home to Australia. I spend about three months a year there.”

Rick is permanently based in Nashville these days, spending nine months of the year there and three months in Australia. And he is very happy with that arrangement. “I spend a bit of time in Europe and Asia as well,” he explains. He still enjoys great popularity in those continents as well. “It goes back to the Sony days when I put my first album out. We did a lot of promotion work and I still have fans from around that time in Europe and Asia and spread all over.”

“Nashville’s been good. It’s a very quiet place to live. I lead a pretty quiet life and I’m just basically making music every day. Nashville is a hub for many styles of music, not just country music; all kinds of music and people really care about music here. They make a big deal about it and everyone’s working together writing songs. It’s a town for collaboration; it’s a town for great musicians writing and creating music and performing live. There’s a lot of free flowing music in Nashville. It’s not paid. You just go out and play and you don’t get paid. There’s a lot of that around and especially here. But it’s good. I think it inspires people to play music for the sake of music. It’s an art form that is very respected and revered here so that’s what draws a lot of people to the place.”

He is currently working on his latest album, ‘Tennessee Sky’ and that is thanks largely to a pledge campaign that, according to Rick, was very successful. “We raised the funds to record an album so I’m in my studio recording it now. The album will be out in February next year.” The first single from the album, ‘Work That Fire’ will be released tomorrow on iTunes. “It has its roots in gospel. It’s a really kind of upbeat song. I’m not religious but I’ve written a lot of spiritual songs I guess.”

The album is all original material except for one cover; a Leonard Cohen song called ‘Hallelujah. “I put that on really as a request from my audience,” he explains. “Because I play it live and people come up to me at shows and say to me ‘I want to buy the album that has ‘Hallelujah on it. And I always say ‘Well there isn’t one.’” He pauses for a second then adds, with a smile, “But there will be now.”

Rick plays most of the instruments on the album himself. He points out his old 1962 Premier drum kit behind him, along with his guitars and keyboards. “I will be bringing other musicians in but I haven’t just yet,” he tells me. “But I have collaborated with a lot of people in the writing of it.” One of those people is Rick’s old song writing partner Heather Field. The two worked together on some of Rick’s biggest hits including ‘Heaven Knows’ and ‘River of Love. “A lot of my favourite songs, I’ve written with her.”

This album is really new territory, for the singer. “I’ve never done a record like this before,” he admits. “Not this kind of music. A lot of it is very gospel based. Some of it is just like Texas swing music. Some of it sounds like an old hymn. It’s drawing on old roots based music.”

Australian audiences will get a taste of the new music on Rick’s Australian tour this month. He will be performing a mix of old and new material at his shows. “Lots of the new stuff,” he assures me. “And I always try to play most of my well known songs because I want my audience to hear what they came out to hear but I want them to hear the new songs as well. I think it’s really important that people hear the new music.”

Rick grew up with a musical family and started singing and playing instruments at the tender age of six. “We had a family band,” he explains. “We grew up in the country and played at all the country barn dances so I started performing on stage when I was about eight and that’s how I got my start. That was my apprenticeship into the music business, and performing. It was great playing at those old folk dances because you had to learn a lot of different tempos to fit the dances they did so you had to learn a lot of different styles of songs.” By the time he was ten or eleven, he was performing in Brisbane nightclubs, chaperoned by his parents and dressed in suits that his mother made for him. “It was a pretty special time for me.  We played every weekend and by the time I was fourteen or fifteen, I was sort of a semi professional musician. I was playing three nights a week and going to school.” Eventually, Rick dropped out of school and became a professional musician at the age of sixteen, moving to Sydney when he was eighteen. “That’s when I really got serious,” he tells me. “I slept on some couches until I could make my own way and I would play all around the Sydney clubs at night and in the daytime I sang and played on radio and television commercials. Then I toured with Marcia Hines and Jon English and I joined a band with Kerrie Biddell who was a great jazz singer.”

Rick was deeply saddened by Kerrie’s recent passing. “She was a great inspiration to me,” he admits. “And a great help. I have really fond memories of that woman. I think she gave me my start in Sydney to be honest. She took me to another level of musicianship; she taught me things, booked me into studios to sing when I had no experience at all. She just gave me a shot and then I started to get work on my own. Then by the time I was about twenty five, I started to get serious about song writing. It took me about five years to get my act together and I put my first album out when I was thirty with Sony.” From that moment on, there has been no looking back for Rick Price. “Since then I’ve made a lot of records, toured all over the world and written and recorded in lots of places and music has made my life very interesting.”

That’s understating things just a bit. The singer has so far recorded eight albums, achieved Gold and Platinum album sales and had worldwide hits with songs such as ‘Not A Day Goes By’, ‘Heaven Knows’, ‘River of Love’ and ‘Walk Away Renee and received numerous Music Industry awards for his work, including ‘Album of  the Year’ and ‘Song of the Year’ for his hit ‘Heaven Knows’.  “That was a pretty big deal to me,” he admits. “Because the APRA Song of the Year is voted by your peers; by people in the music industry who have given you the nod to say ‘That’s a great song.’ When that happened, it really hit me that I had written something that has really done something to people. You know, as a kid growing up, singing and performing was as natural as breathing to me but song writing was the thing that I really had to work hard at. Not that I haven’t worked hard at singing and playing instruments but there’s so much to learn about song writing so that was a whole other aspect when I wrote ‘Heaven Knows’, and it won ‘APRA Song of the Year’. Having that acknowledgement meant a lot to me because I had really worked hard on my song writing. With my music, I don’t focus on winning awards but with an award like that, it’s more that it’s because you’re acknowledged for writing a good song and writing a song that’s had a big effect on people and that’s great.”

As Rick explains, music takes up most of his time. “I wake up every day and I’m either writing, recording or performing music in some way. It’s been a great ride and I feel like I’m at the most exciting period of time for my music and I’m very excited about the new record. I feel very inspired at the moment. I feel very blessed. I still love to do what I do. I love getting up on stage and singing songs and playing to people and I love working in my studio and creating things.” He agrees that he has definitely found his path in life and music is it. “It’s my ministry, so to speak,” he tells me with a smile.

 

by Sharyn Hamey

Copyright © Sharyn Hamey 2014. All rights reserved

For full details on Rick’s Australian tour and to book tickets, click  here

To be part of Rick’s ‘Tennessee Sky’ Pledge Campaign, click here

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