Songs capture Anzac spirit

25 Apr, 2015 02:00 AM

"HERE is their spirit, in the heart of the land they loved; and here we guard the record which they themselves made."

To some, Charles Bean's words that hang on a plaque at the Australian War Memorial act as a reminder to commemorate our soldiers who've fallen in war, but for award-winning country music artist Lee Kernaghan, they did much more.

A visit to the War Memorial in Canberra kick started a project that was two years in the making - an album paying tribute to the Anzacs, called Spirit of the Anzacs.

Kernaghan said Bean's words had stuck in his mind since he visited the memorial, along with the dozens of stories told by our war veterans that inspired him to sing the voice of the Australian soldier, "the greatest privilege" in his musical life.

"I was shown some of the letters and diaries dating back to the landing at Gallipoli right through to the war in Afghanistan and I was so moved by their humble, honest and noble words that something inside me wanted to create music around their stories," he said.

"Every single letter stood out in the most profound way because they were all real stories."

The songwriting process took 18 months and Kernaghan said he read scores and scores of letters and diary entries, as well as conducted an enormous amount of research alongside the historical department of the Australian War Memorial to ensure everything was factually correct.

"My record producer Garth Porter combed through book after book, getting background details to the letters," he said.

Although the soldiers' stories were a crucial part of the songwriting, understanding the historical significance pertaining to the time the letter was written was key to the process.

Despite the album being factual, it wasn't based on the bullets and loss of war but more of the courage shown by those Australians who fought for their country.

"It's not an album about war, it's an album about love, family and mateship," Kernaghan said.

Since its release, the album has spent four weeks as the number one album in Australia.

"For me the album has very little to do with myself," he said.

"It's purely about the Anzacs past and present, and it's been a privilege to be a part of the production."

All proceeds from the album's first single, Spirit of the Anzacs, will be donated to charities Soldier On and Legacy Australia.

Kernaghan said the song, featuring other Australian artists Megan Washington, Sheppard, Guy Sebastian, Jessica Mauboy, Shannon Noll and Jon Stevens, was a major part of the album and wouldn't have been possible without the collaborating artists' generosity and spirit.

"It was incredibly uplifting to be involved in the recording of that song and to have such amazing artists lending their talents," he said.

Kernaghan said donating to Legacy Australia, which helps more than 60,000 war widows as well as thousands of orphans yearly, and Soldier On, which provides support for returned servicemen and women, was important to him.

"It was important that we not only honoured the servicemen and women but did something to support those who have given so much of themselves to our country," he said.

Although the album introduced themes any Australian could relate to, Kernaghan said it was something rural people would be able to empathise with.

"So many of these men and women who are written about in the album come from the bush and I think these stories will resonate right across Australia for many years to come."

Deluxe and regular versions of the album are for sale online and in stores.

On Anzac Day Lee Kernaghan, who spreads the safety message for Yamaha, will be in a television broadcast from Currumbin on the Gold Coast, Queensland, after the Dawn Service before heading to Southport to see his son Jet march with the army school cadets.



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