Country music star Beccy Cole was recognised on the 2022 Queen’s Birthday Honours List this week for her “service to country music”.
The South Australian-born singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist has put out 10 albums during her more than 30-year music career.
This week she was awarded her Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM), and the musician says the honour has a special meaning for her.
“It means visibility for the arts, in particular country music which I’m passionate about, and it’s visibility for the LGBTIQ+ community,” Beccy explained to Sky News.
“It’s visibility for women in particular. I’m absolutely thrilled at this honour.
“When I was younger and starting out in music, I was told by someone very high up in the recording industry that I’m a woman, so I have a use by date.
“I’ve never forgotten that. I always wanted to blow that theory out of the water.
“I’m still touring, I’m nearly 50 but I’m young compared to a lot of other wonderful country artists, especially in America.
“[In the US] they tend to be able to honour their artists as they get older. Loretta Lynn is nearly 80. Dolly Parton is 76.
“I want that for Australians. I want us to look at, especially our mature women who are on tour, contributing to the arts and being fabulous at 50.”
Beccy Cole came out as gay ten years ago
Beccy Cole came out as gay on the ABC’s Australian Story in 2012.
Reflecting on the past decade, the musician told Sky News “the world is changing and the acceptance of all sorts of things is changing.”
“This month, I came out 10 years ago. It was a different time even 10 years ago for those coming out, especially in places I tour in regional Australia.”
But she said even at the time, the reaction from her audience “surprised her completely”.
“I worried so much. I thought, ‘Are they going to want to come and see this country singer now I’ve put my hand up and said I’m gay?'” she recalled.
“I was completely surprised when I was welcomed with open arms. I had hardly any negative feedback.
“It was a beautiful all-encompassing great big Aussie hug that I received.
“I absolutely love my job and I love the country music audience in Australia. If you’re kind to them, their loyalty lasts forever. We don’t talk about country Australia enough.”
Beccy Cole’s ex-partner Libby O’Donovan also honoured with OAM
On Monday, Beccy’s ex-wife Elizabeth Anne O’Donovan OAM, better known as musician Libby O’Donovan, also received an OAM. O’Donovan was honoured for her services to jazz and cabaret.
Beccy and Libby sadly split on Boxing Day last year. In April, Beccy described the separation as one of the darkest periods of her life.
“It went from a beautiful life to a really unfortunate situation,” she told The Advertiser in April.
But she says friends, family and colleagues rallied around her and gave her “unbelievable support”.
“They sat with me while I slept. They saved my life,” she said.
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