There has been debate about whether female country musicians get as much airplay as their male counterparts, but singer-songwriter-guitarist Amber Lawrence is focussing on what she does best - making and performing music.
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The Sydney-sider could be one of the hardest-working country musicians in Australia, having performed over 90 shows across the country last year - and this May, she's heading to Dubbo.
The six-times Golden Guitar winner was named 2023 Female Artist of the Year at the Country Music Association of Australia's Golden Guitar Awards at Tamworth in January.
Hot of the heels of the recognition, Ms Lawrence is heading to Dubbo to headline the Saturday night's live entertainment at what is arguably the most-loved event in town - the Dubbo Show.
"We'll have a full band, it will be a very high-energy, fun show, and we will involve all ages - families are welcome, party-goers are welcome. We want to bring the vibe," Ms Lawrence told the Daily Liberal.
The setlist will feature some of her award-winning and most-loved songs including Outrageous from the album 'Spark', as well as an often-requested song, My Big Mack Truck, from one of her children's albums, 'The Kids Gone Country'.
Ms Lawrence said there could also be some covers, including from the likes of Shania Twain, all designed to "really get people in the party atmosphere after a big day at the show".
Ms Lawrence grew up in the Sydney suburb of Mascot - where she still lives - and loves visiting the regions.
"People are very surprised to hear there's a country music singer in Mascot. It's nothing like a country town - it's loud and noisy, which is why I'm drawn to regional towns," Ms Lawrence said.
Towns like Dubbo are "where the country music fans are" and "that's where the great country music events are".
"We've played a lot of rural and regional towns and they're so different and so we are very excited to play Dubbo, for the 150-year anniversary - that's a huge amount of time to have an event," Ms Lawrence said.
"[Regional events] were all impacted by COVID and so it's great to be able to get back there and travel around Australia and get into the heartland."
This year's Tamworth Country Music Festival had Ms Lawrence inducted into the prestigious Galaxy of Stars, alongside legends such as Kasey Chambers and Lee Kernaghan.
When asked how she felt about winning the 2023 Female Artist of the Year gong, Ms Lawrence said she was "honoured" - and put it down to hard work.
"I did a lot of hard work last year to get back on the road - to get back to many, many small parts of Australia," she said.
We did 90 shows last year - it was quite exhausting. To win the Female Artist of the Year was nice validation of the amount of hard work we did.- Amber Lawrence
"We did 90 shows last year - it was quite exhausting. To win the Female Artist of the Year was nice validation of the amount of hard work we did."
This included driving between shows, packing the band, setting up, having "very little sleep" and "a lot of time in the car", as well as doing promotion "every day to sell tickets to the shows". On top of all this, Ms Lawrence is a wife and a mum.
When asked, she acknowledged the country music industry "argument" about whether female artists were getting as much air- and streaming-play as their male counterparts.
"What's impressive about me and my peers is how music-lead we are. We drive the vehicle, we book the tour, we help set up, we don't rely on anyone else to do it for us. That's the way I was raised," she said.
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"If we want to mix it on the same level playing field and have the same recognition we are going to do what we do, taking music to the crowds."
As for the Dubbo Show crowd, Ms Lawrence said she hoped she hoped they were in a "really good mood, ready to sing along, dance along, get down into the mosh pit, and sing with us - that's the best way for people to enjoy music, when the band and audience are as one".
What's next for Ms Lawrence?
"A lot more touring. The diary is nearly full up for the year," she said.
And in among all this, she'll also find some time to write some new songs.
Amber Lawrence will be playing the Dubbo Show from 8.30pm on Saturday, May 20, at Boardy's Bar, at the Dubbo Showground, after the 8pm fireworks. Find out more at www.dubboshow.org/annual-show
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