"You never tried to stop me from following my dream/ though it took me half way around the world it seems/ there's all this talk and promises for better days to come/ and it sounds so good it keeps me hanging on." - Too Far Gone - Catherine Britt-Paul Overstreet.

Expatriate Australian country star Catherine Britt could be excused for thinking that Melbourne is the Bermuda Triangle of the genre.

When she launched her debut disc Dusty Smiles & Heartbreak Cures the venue was the tiny, smoky Cherry Bar at the Paris, Texas, end of Flinders Lane.

Britt, then 18, and guitarist Mick Hamilton played to a small but appreciative invited audience.

But despite two U.S. Top 40 singles no city promoter would offer her a suitable fee to play in Australia's second most populous city during her 2006 return tour.

High profile exposure on Pay TV channel CMC attracted enthusiastic audiences for Britt interstate and in the bush but not Melbourne.

Catherine pulled large crowds in Tamworth, Tweed Heads, Sydney, Newcastle and Van Diemen's Land cities Hobart and Launceston.

Instead Britt steered clear of the big smoke and settled for the Inferno night club in Traralgon in Gippsland to showcase tunes from her second album Too Far Gone.

Promoter Rob Potts's decision was a not so cryptic comment on failure of corporate commercial radio chains to play country music.

It was also an accurate barometer of the impact of surrogate radio - CMC - on the genre.

But there is good news.

Britt plans to include Melbourne in her return tour here in winter and another planned for early 2007.

Timing will depend on reaction to the belated U.S. album release and the international success of her disc.

The singer has toured as support to Brad Paisley, Travis Tritt & Sara Evans during her ascent and is likely to join other major artists to promote her disc in the U.S.

At the ripe old age of 21 the daughter of a Newcastle primary school psychologist and librarian, is fast learning pitfalls of an industry that chews its denizens with voracious glee.

Her debut U.S. single The Upside Of Being Down reached #34 on U.S. charts after an intensive tour of country stations and CMT exposure.


So she released her duet with Sir Elton John on Where We Say Goodbye - a tune she wrote with Jerry Salley.

Sir Elton discovered Britt on an Australian tour and helped her land a lucrative deal with major Nashville label RCA-BMG.

But John's presence on her self-penned duet Where We Both Say Goodbye polarised U.S. radio programmers and stalled at #34.

"Either it was #1 in one town and never played in another," Britt revealed.

"It was really bizarre. There was no middle ground. Many country fans are from the south and I don't think many are Elton John fans. On the other hand it's country radio and they're just not going to accept Elton John. Some wouldn't touch it because it had Elton John and others would play him. I thought if you can't get a single on radio with Elton Bloody John singing on it what can you do."

In another cruel twist of fate Britt won't have a chance to test the waters of Australian hits and memories radio with her Elton John duet because of a licensing glitch.

"It's not authorised to be released in Australia right now so we left that off the album here," Britt explained.


"Money does not mean a thing/ when you dream a farmer's dream/ he could not tow that bottom line/ some times I curse that poor man's pride." - Poor Man's Pride - Catherine Britt-Guy Clark-Jerry Salley.

Britt released her co-write with Guy Clark and Salley on Poor Man's Pride as her second single here.

"Guy is with the same publishing company as me but I was flattered when he agreed to write with me," Britt explained.

"He told me he had heard my version of Big Rock Candy Mountain - the hidden track on my first album - and said it was the best version he had heard."

The video clip was a hefty sales stimulus here on CMC and Nu Country TV.

It prompted the album to be released here on January 15 ahead of its U.S. launch.

But it's an 11th hour recording of Swingin' Door that's her new single in the U.S.

Ashley Monroe, Brett James and Terry Clayton penned the tune - an assertive parody of a Texan Lothario.


"My best friend over there Ashley Monroe wrote it," Britt revealed.

"We pitch songs to each other and write together. When I heard it I said 'Ashley I've got to have it.' She's a fabulous singer-songwriter. She's a descendant of Bill Monroe and the Carter Family. She's from Knoxville and a new artist on Sony. She writes old timey stuff - we got together. We're like best friends and have been writing together for the last year. We have written about six or seven songs. They're all in limbo for my next album."

Britt also wrote Nobody's Fool - another song that lampooned cheating - with Brice Long.

"Most songs about my experiences that happen to me," Britt added.

"I ran into this fellow at a bar, it's basically the story of that night. I don't know who he was. He certainly had a ring on his finger and time on his hands. But I don't go out alone too much but I have been in many bars and clubs."


"I'll be a long way from here and you'll be crying in your beer/ like an old Hank Williams song/ goodbye, farewell, so long, I'm gone." - I'm Gone - Catherine Britt- Dan Hill-Keith Stegall.

Britt also wrote another late addition to the album with award winning songwriter and producer Keith Stegall who shared production duties with Bill Chambers.

Stegall hired Hank Williams Drifting Cowboy Don Helms to play pedal steel guitar on her Hank tribute song Hot Doggin' - another co-write with Salley.

"Keith was looking for another uptempo song and had a verse and a chorus written of a song called I'm Gone," Britt recalled.

"He said 'I thought you would love that, go play with it. I went home and wrote it in about five minutes and emailed it to him. I mentioned Hank Williams in the lyrics. We took it to the label and they loved it sand it became a sibling of Hot Doggin' so we kept the Hank theme going."

Another late addition is the Roger Murrah-Richard Murrah tune Life's Highway.

"It was originally a #1 hit for Steve Wariner 20 years ago," Britt recalled.

"When I heard it I thought that has to be re-recorded. It was so inspirational, light and bluegrassy with a gospel flavour. I had to do my own version."


Britt has a huge supporter in expatriate Australasian superstar Keith Urban who was also snubbed by radio when he launched his 1991 self-titled debut disc at the Prince Patrick, Collingwood.

She relies on 2006 Grammy award winner Urban, 38, for advice about the long hard road to success in the highly competitive U.S. market.

"Keith has given me a lot of advice," Britt revealed about the singer who introduced her to fellow superstar Kenny Chesney who makes a guest appearance on her album.

"He said Catherine it's not gonna happen overnight - if you come here expecting it is you will be so disappointed. He kept going no matter what for more than 10 years before he made it. Now look at him, he's so huge you can't stop him."


"I can't go on faking this love we ain't making/ you deserve to have someone who loves you too/ now I could go on lying/ but what ain't dead is slowly dying/ and the only thing that is left is hurting you." - Fallin' Out Of Love With You - Catherine Britt -Brice Long.

Instead Britt is promoting her album that showcases six of her originals including the story of her first ruptured romance - Falling Out Of Love With You.

"The first love for everybody is something you'll never forget, they'll always be your first love," Britt revealed of her romance with her childhood sweetheart who followed her to Nashville and also inspired embryonic song 46 Miles From Alice.

"Everyone can relate to that track. My God I've lived that and get it. When you're kids and you grow up together then you fall apart. We were both good people and grew apart."

Although Britt dated the guitarist from superstar duo Brooks & Dunn for about 12 months she enjoys newfound freedom.

"He toured here with me and we're still good friends," says Britt.

"I've been trying to stay single and concentrate on myself. I just wanted to do my own thing, everybody goes through that."


Britt, who began writing songs in her Newcastle home at 14, spread her wings with a diverse cast of the best Nashville writers on her arrival as a teenager.

She built her credibility as a writer before she landed her recording deal and in a long wait for the album to be released.

Writing partners on her second album included Clark, Overstreet, Salley, Stegall, Long and Dan Hill.

But she has also been writing with others for her third album and for other artists.

"I've really enjoyed writing with Ashley Monroe and Jerry Salley," Britt said.

"I've also been writing with Shay Smith and Ed Hill who had a lot of Jamie O'Neal cuts and Shane Minor who had a lot of big hits. I have done a demo session of new songs for next album. I want to be known as a songwriter as songs last forever. That's what my aim is - for inner happiness."


The singer was bemused by the publicity furore when she and other country starlets appeared in a photo shoot for the FHM Magazine.

"No publicity is bad publicity," Britt joked.

"I'll explain it to you. We did that shoot because of the publicity. I was working hard on my body, training and working out. Being a woman I was proud of my body and felt great. I was basically the only person in the shoot who had clothes on. I decided to show it off. I thought I did it very controlled. I felt the whole dressing wasn't too sexy - I felt great and enjoyed that shoot."

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