He’s one of Australia’s most prolific and versatile entertainers, the owner of 9 Golden Guitars and Aria Awards. He’s been a radio presenter, was part of the heart of the ABC’s much loved ‘Play School’ and is a successful book author. Rhema FM’s very own Shayne Holstein caught up with legendary Australian Christian musician Colin Buchanan and asked him a few questions!
Thanks for talking to us today Colin! Your love of music – how did it all begin? I hear that you began entertaining people from a very young age.
Yes, and getting into trouble for it as well as you do at school! I remember one report at school said:
“Colin is outspoken.”
I had to ask my parents what that meant, and they just laughed and rolled their eyes. You could say I was a natural entertainer! You find that you’re entertaining yourself to some degree as well and it’s a fascinating thing to create and engage people, to celebrate the things you love. So I’ve always been a bit of a natural entertainer and it’s a blessing to be able to do that for a living and to find myself 25 plus years into that – it’s a bit surreal actually!
Now Colin you were originally a primary school teacher. How did that transition into becoming a musician pan out?
That happened in 1988. I worked full-time as a teacher for 2 years. But then my wife and I wanted to take the opportunity to move out to Western NSW in the outback to a little community called Corner Stone Community. While I was out there I started writing songs about the bush and entered them in Song writing competitions in Tamworth. One thing led to another and I found myself myself with a publishing deal and then a record deal. Suddenly I’m in country music and then the door opened to my other activities.
Yes some of those other activities include entertaining children with Christian music and being an entertainer of the children’s show ‘Play School’. Can you tell us how that came about?
You know, it was an interesting connection with writing songs, being a primary school teacher, and being very involved in kids clubs and Sunday school in church over the years.
I was signed to ABC music and they shared the same site with ABC studios. So down at the ABC cafeteria the Head of ABC Music is talking to the Head of ABC ‘Play School’, and I had mentioned that ‘Play School’ was something that I would love to have a go at. So this lady mentioned it to the other lady and she said to send me up for an audition. So I sang ‘Okki Tokki Unga’ – the famous children’s song at the ‘Play School’ hut. They said they’d be in touch, and amazingly they were! A few weeks later I was singing ‘The Ants go Marching one-by-one’ with Monica, and John, and I became part of the ‘Play School’ crew which was such a great thrill and I loved every minute of it. I’m very grateful for it. Even recently I had a professional musician come up to me and sincerely thank me for my work on ‘Play School’ because it meant so much to him a s a child. It’s quite an amazing thing for someone to say.
Last year you put out a children’s album with ‘Play School’ co-host Karen Pang. How’s this album going for you?
Yes I think it’s finding its way out there. It might not perhaps be driving parents nuts yet, but I’d say one of the challenges of making a children’s record is to hopefully make something that has the capacity to be listened to over and over without wearing itself out. So far I think it’s finding a home out there. It was refreshing to collaborate and do something different than what I’m used to.
Interestingly my latest album ‘Calvary Road’ wouldn’t have been made the way it was, or even be made if it were not for that little album recorded with Karen in that same studio complex.
Your country songs sure do capture the essence of this ‘Great South Land’ of ours. How do you transfer these thoughts into songs? Do you carry around a notebook or a recording device with you?
Well yes, or if that fails you find a bus ticket to write on the back. My file of songs does include a bunch of brochures that have been commandeered for the purposes of catching a lyrical idea or two. Years ago I thought why don’t they make these mobile phones with recorders? So I hunted out the first ever Nokia phone that came with a voice recorder, which wasn’t particularly fancy but it had a recorder on it! So now it is very handy to have at your fingertips a great device where you can record and jot down lyrical ideas as they come to you.
As I come to make an album I’m very often herding those ideas together and seeing which ones work and can stand up on their own, or which ones are springboards into completed songs. So it’s really handy when you’re inspired by a place or meet a person and you have the means to write it down. I have a notebook in front of me now actually which is a mixture of lyrics, articles and short stories that I’m working on. There’s always lots of lyrics floating around.
Thanks for chatting with us Colin! Check out what Colin has been up to musically in his latest album ‘Calvary Road.’