Multi-platinum country singer Lee Kernaghan was named Australian of the Year in a presentation Jan. 26 during the country’s national day of celebrations.
The 43-year-old Kernaghan was recognized for his work with drought-ravaged farming communities. The artist’s “Pass The Hat Around” benefit tours have raised A$1 million ($800,000) to date.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who presented Kernaghan with the award at a ceremony in front of Parliament House in Canberra, commented, “Lee Kernaghan’s music resonates with every Australian by connecting us all to the spirit of the bush, but more importantly he gives hope and pride to those on the land when they need inspiration most.”
Kernaghan joins Yothu Yindi band leader Mandawuy Yunupingu, cricketer Steve Waugh, and actor Paul Hogan as a winner of the prestigious annual award.
The singer has released nine albums ABC/Warner Music. He’s had 22 chart-topping singles on the ARIA country charts and won 27 “golden guitars” trophies at the national Country Music Awards.
Australia Day honors also went to veteran Sydney-based music manager and publisher John Woodruff, who was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM).
Woodruff was feted for his contribution to the local music industry, through discovering and developing acts as Savage Garden, Baby Animals, the Angels, Evermore and Diesel through his companies John Woodruff Management and Rough Cut Publishing, and for his role in mentoring young talent by helping to set up the local branch of the Music Managers Forum.
The Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) was bestowed to 60-year old Lindsay Butler “for service to country music as a performer, recording artist and producer”; one time secretary of the Australasian Performing Right Association, Nick Hampton, for raising A$8 million ($7.05 million) for the Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy charity; and Bob and Anne Steel for setting up the Elvis Festival as a tourist attraction to the New South Wales town of Parkes, which attracts 8,000 visitors each year.