There was a time when she couldn’t sing
Julie celebrates 25 great years in show business
On With the Show’s
Flashback to 1995
By SHIRLEY BROUN
JULIE Anthony has come a long way since her first appearance on stage singing `He’ll Have to Go’ for a high school dance at Waikerie in the South Australian Riverland district.
Now living in a house overlooking the Tweed Valley, Julie has done everything from singing the lead in the successful stage production of `Irene’ in London’s West End to stirring a nation with her rendition of `Advance Australia Fair’.
At a testimonial dinner held in her honour at Sydney’s Sheraton-Wentworth Hotel recently, she was the toast of the town – if not the nation – in celebration of 25 years in show business. “From those early days when she won a talent quest on Adelaide television, we knew we had a performer of outstanding talent,” said Prime Minister Paul Keating. “I believe many in the industry and the public at large would find it difficult to think of a more popular, talented and more enduring artist than Julie Anthony.”
His words were echoed – and added to – by many of the more than 400 industry peers, St George colleagues and friends during an evening of pure nostalgia.
Col Joye, Tommy Tycho, Barry Crocker, Athol Guy and Bruce Woodley (of The Seekers), Don Burrows, Ken Laing, Twin Towns Services Club general manager Russell Roylance, St George management and Tony Brady (her agent for 25 years) were among those who paid tribute to Julie on the night.
The guest of honour worked pretty hard too – sharing the stage with many of her talented peers. Even Julie’s vocal teacher, Bob Tasman-Smith was there to show his support for this country girl from the Mallee district turned national singing sensation. Fourteen `MO’ Awards, an Order of Australia and an OBE are indicative of her success to date.
Julie, having toured in the UK and America, is internationally renowned for her full, rich vocal talents. But there was a time during her career when Julie wouldn’t or, more to the point, couldn’t say or sing a word.
Emergency treatment on her vocal chords cut short her stay in London after the successful staging of `Irene’ in the West End. She returned in silence and spent months unable to speak a word. It took doctors two years to diagnose the problem and once her voice had gone, it was another six to eight months before she returned to the stage.
But Julie describes her months of silence as `an experience for the better’. “The experience led me to meet vocal teacher, Bob Tasman-Smith, and his tuition opened new doors for me in so many ways,” said Julie who had previously had no formal vocal training. “Bob taught me so much about my voice, it was like turning on a light switch. I came back singing bigger, better and with a wider range than ever before,” she said.
Husband Eddie Natt adapted very well during the realm of silence. “We soon gave up on all the note writing and he began to read my mind. It was quite uncanny,” Julie said. “I was quite at ease, there was no pressure to speak. It was almost like doing meditation for six months.”
`Burning Bridges’ and `Never Ending Song of Love For You’ were two songs close to the hearts of Julie and Eddie. “They were playing when Ed and I met in New Zealand in 1971. I was working at the Logan Park Hotel which Ed managed. He subsequently gave up managing the hotel and managed me instead. It’s a union that has remained strong to this very day.”
Another song which brings back happy memories for Julie is `Everything Old is New Again’, a song she sang for the opening of Twin Towns Services Club auditorium on September 1, 1978. Not only was it Julie’s first opportunity to open such a major entertainment venue but it was also the beginning of a wonderful friendship with the club’s general manager Russell Roylance.
“Russell gave me the opportunity to open the new auditorium – the first time I had ever done such a thing. He has since helped so many young artists succeed, such as Gina Jeffreys and Jackie Love, and taken them from being supports to headliners in the auditorium.”
Julie credits St George Bank (for which she has been the commercial face for 20 years) for taking her out of the singer/dancer role and into a new highly public position as a presenter and speaker. “It is only the past few years that I have felt the confidence to say I can do this,” she said.
This year Julie plans to release a new CD with musical director of many years, Mike Harvey. “We are going for the essence – piano and voice only. We do a lot of two-out shows which have developed from the highly successful Morning Melodies.”
The CD release is planned for Mother’s Day and will coincide with a concert tour. Julie counts herself among the world’s luckiest people.
“These days I have the honour of working with some of the best performers around – Don Burrows, Simon Gallaher and Barry Crocker, to name a few. It was the same when I worked with The Seekers. I knew all the Seekers hits and just loved touring with them.”Tweet