DIARY - 11 NOVEMBER 2003 - DONNA FISK
GENE FISK 2003
family have been in Australian country music almost as long as the Dusty
and Kernaghan dynasties.
But the Fisk fry, now calling Mr Moriac home, are best known here in Victoria.
And it's on another side of the microphone that veteran singer-songwriter
Gene and daughter Donna embellished their talents.
Gene, whose radio career started during an Air Force stint in Malaysia
in the fifties, blazed a trail at Melbourne commercial station 3UZ during
its halcyon days in the seventies.
Fisk also worked at major regional stations, including 3GL Geelong, before
and after his 3UZ era.
And more recently Gene, a one time PBS-FM country music host, was a driving
force at long suffering Geelong radio station Country FM - 89.3 FM.
The station staged a decade long battle for a community broadcasting licence
but, like sibling station Nu Country FM, was refused in 2001.
Gene, whose station is now operating on a narrow cast commercial frequency,
won the Heritage award of the spring Independent Country Music Awards
in Mildura with his song 'Kidman' about the outback cattle king.
DONNA FISK & CRISTIAN
whose career began in the eighties, has recorded as a solo artist
and in a duo with writing, recording and performing partner Michael
The singer balanced her singing with her volunteer work as a popular
disc jockey on 3WRB-FM, now Stereo 974, in the Melbourne suburb of
Brooklyn in the nineties.
Fisk and Cristian upstaged her dad by making the finals of the 31st
Australian Country Music Awards in January, 2002.
It was their second year in succession.
the Top 5 for vocal duo or group with their single 'The Recipe'
The Recipe and new single 'Under The Influence Of Love' are from
their third album 'The Big Picture,' set for launch at Tamworth
in January, 2004.
It's a far cry from when Donna cut the narrative, 'The Cowboy Song'
before Garth Brooks chose it for one of his huge selling albums, 'In
Fisk & Cristian have shared stages artists diverse as Tom T Hall,
Dionne Warwick, John Denver, Donny Osmond, Tom Jones, Blood, Sweat &
Tears and leading satirist Barry Humphries.
In 1998 they had a top 10 radio hit with their song 'Lara' and
rocketed into the ARIA charts with their Seven Network AFL TV footy song
'Rock 'N Footy'.
They performed the song to a sell-out crowd of 100,000 people on the hallowed
turf of the MCG.
And a 100 million plus audience for the 1998 AFL Grand Final International
This year they performed live at the Bellarine and Geelong Football Leagues
Grand Finals at Skilled Stadium in Kardinia Park.
Donna and Michael were also chosen by the Federal Government to perform
Bruce Woodley penned song 'Building On A Strong Foundation' as
Australian Centenary of Federation anthem.
The duo have also released four albums and won awards for their original
Their CD 'Joyride' on Warren Fahey's Rouseabout label featured
11 of their tunes including a remake of 'Dimboola' and the stone
country song 'Toe Tapping Twang'
with Brian Cadd on piano.
& CRISTIAN STORY
MELBOURNE HERALD-SUN - SEPTEMBER 1998
& CRISTIAN THROWN TO LIONS
Donna Fisk's hometown team Geelong was being eliminated from the AFL finals
in September, 1997, she was lying in agony in a Melbourne hospital bed
trying to watch TV.
Bur after a miraculous recovery from a protracted illness, Donna and singing
partner Michael Cristian, performed at the 1998 Grand Final for a television
audience of 40 million plus.
The duo sang Seven Network AFL footy theme Rock 'N Footy at the
MCG as a curtain raiser for the North Melbourne-Adelaide grand final clash.
"Donna was very ill for a good three or four months," Christian
revealed on the eve of the big game, "she was in hospital for at
least 10 days. She had a really horrible time lying there and was very
scared. We were also worried sick. We cancelled many gigs and recording
sessions to allow her to recuperate."
Ironically, it was during the convalescence of Donna - eldest of six children
of veteran disc jockey and country singer Gene Bradley Fisk - that she
got her big break during a private concert at the Woodend home of Seekers
singer and former MP Athol Guy.
"We were doing a gig at Athol Guy's farm and Gordon Bennett - the
head of Seven Network Sport - was there," Donna revealed, "he
later rang Athol to contact us for a project. He called and asked if we
would sing the Lee Roy Parnell song, If The House Is Rocking, which
was used for the football last year. He added he wouldn't mind something
fresh. I said 'why don't we write something?' We wrote the song that afternoon
and played it to Gordon the next morning. He wanted something with a country
rock edge like Hank Williams Jr song All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming
Over For Monday Night Football which is used for the NFL. He also
wanted us in the footage."
The rest is history - the duo became an "overnight sensation"
after a collective 40 years working with artists of the calibre of The
Seekers, Judith Durham, Tom T Hall, Donny Osmond and the late John Denver.
"We wrote the song in about 45 minutes," revealed Cristian whose
tunes have been recorded by The Seekers and Judith Durham on recent albums.
"We recorded it at my studio - Sound Plant in Spotswood."
Cristian is no stranger to success as musical director, arranger and writer
for The Seekers and Judith Durham but Fisk feared she was doomed to be
a Coodabeen champion like her football team.
and recorded with Brian Cadd in Nashville and released a song that failed
to make Top 5 in the best female vocal section of the 1988 Australian
Country Music Awards.
'The Cowboy Song' was recorded at former Little River Band guitarist David
Briggs West Melbourne studio but was rejected in Tamworth.
But the same song was later chosen by American superstar and multi-millionaire
Garth Brooks for his album 'In Pieces' which sold more than six million
copies - a hefty slab of his total sales of 100 million plus in just a
Now, a decade after beating the huge selling Oklahoma legend into local
stores the bucolic bridesmaid has become the belle of the football after
being rewarded for the vote of confidence by Brooks.
Rock 'N Footy was added to the duo's debut album 'Little Stars
Of Eden' and they performed at both North Melbourne and Sydney Swans
1998 grand final breakfasts.
"We are getting fan mail from all over Australia - especially Adelaide
- and we are now working on a second album," Fisk said.
The duo received hefty exposure on Live And Kicking and other TV variety
shows but little on mainstream radio which does not play country music.
But like other Australian country music artists the duo rely heavily on
TV - not radio exposure - for airplay, popularity and publishing royalties.
"I believe the publishing cheque will be quite OK," says Fisk
whose father Gene was a popular DJ on 3UZ in its halcyon days in the seventies.
"Equally importantly it puts country music in the national spotlight
- something it has never been able to achieve in recent years. It's important
to me that the song put our album and music in the minds of people whom
we would never normally get to. People who would never get to listen to
country music have heard us because of the sales of the single with its
bonus country tracks."
track is 'Lara' - a tune about driving through the town where Brownlow
medallist Gary Dempsey was born - to reach the Great Southern Ocean.
"That song came almost as quickly as Rock 'N Footy,"
say Cristian, "it took us only about an hour to write."
The duo have collaborated with fellow local singer-songwriter Paul Norton
- living in the shadows of singing spouse Wendy Stapleton - for their
single Right Here.
It's aimed at the Australian Country Music Awards.
"We have to prepare for life after football," quipped Fisk,
"that means performing at interstate and Victorian country music
festivals. We write prolifically - we've had a song recorded by Tina Martyn
and we're writing for Geelong country singer Adam Harvey."
It's a lot less painful and far more lucrative than being confined to
a hospital bed on that one day in September.
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