Felicity Urquhart’s Golden night after year of tragedy
Australian country music star Felicity Urquhart has turned a devastating personal loss into triumph, saying love and the power of music saved her.
Urquhart's husband Glen Hannah tragically took his own life last year, leaving Felicity, their two young daughters, family, friends and the close-knit country music community heartbroken.
Last night she won five Golden Guitar Awards at the Tamworth Country Music Festival, thanking her late partner, producer and co-collaborator for the music they created together.
"I miss him dearly and I would love him to be here because we were always a team," she told The Sunday Telegraph.
"I think that he's trying to do his best to help me get through it from wherever. I get those tingles and I think: 'Is that you'?"
Just months after Hannah lost a battle with mental illness his wife of 10 years didn't even know he was fighting, Urquhart managed to pick up the guitar again and draw on the "immense" strength of music.
"I don't know how it all works out there but I think he's already moved some chess pieces," she said.
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"Music is healing, and it's connecting. It's a wonderful thing."
Tamworth born and raised, the 43-year-old began her career by busking as a child along the famous 'Boulevard of Dreams' in Peel St and her daughters Tia and Ellie are following in her footsteps.
"Now my kids are out there doing it, it's so beautiful," Urquhart said.
"I say to the kids: 'That's how I met daddy. Mummy and daddy have been around the world because of our music'."
Urquhart has been touring non-stop and played sold-out shows at her hometown this week - even singing backing vocals at a tribute show raising funds for Tia and Ellie on Friday night.
"I just love this community and I would be lost without them," she said.
"I'm very lucky, I don't know anyone who would have the last 12 months I've had but yet the amount of love I've received."
She played at the launch of band Tiesco West's new album. The band and the album was Hannah's idea but he never got to finish it.
But his band members and mates Matt Fell, Jeremy Edwards, Steve Fearnley, Shane Nicholson and Peter Cornelius completed it in his honour and called it The Goonga Project, which was Hannah's nickname.
At the Golden Guitars Urquhart played an emotional rendition of Chain Of Joy, the lead single from her solo album.
Chain Of Joy won Song of the Year and Single of the Year while Frozen Rabbit took out Album Of The Year and Traditional Country Album of the Year.
Joy is a family name and that's exactly how Urquhart plans to celebrate all her wins, which were capped with Female Artist of the Year.
"It's all about bringing joy and keeping it," she said.
Qantas New Talent of the Year winner Blake O'Connor still remembers being inspired by Urquhart as a 15-year-old at a talent development workshop in Sydney.
O'Connor was with his mentor when she got nominated for 10 Golden Guitars.
"I'm stoked for her, she deserves them all," he said.
The 19-year-old Port Macquarie lad came to Tamworth for the first time three years ago when he too was busking on Peel St, and says his first Golden Guitar honour will kickstart his year ahead of a UK and Australia tour.
"I don't often drink but I might have a couple tonight!" he said.
International chart-topper Morgan Evans took out Male Artist of the Year and Contemporary Country Album of the Year for Things That We Drink To.
And legend Lee Kernaghan had already scored Top Selling Australian Album of the Year, taking his career tally to 38 Golden Guitars, which equals the record set by the great Slim Dusty.
Mr Dusty's wife Joy McKean - who won the first ever Golden Guitar award in 1973 - celebrated her 90th birthday and life's work this week with a special concert performed by Paul Kelly, Kasey Chambers and Don Walker.