Country girl at heart

COUNTRY music singer Nicki Gillis didn't have a choice when it came to music.

Growing up in semi-rural Western Australia with a pair of accomplished musicians for parents, she was immersed in music from an early age, and it wasn't long until Ms Gillis herself was playing the pubs and clubs of Perth, en route to her own solo musical career.

Her influences are wide and varied, ranging from the 20th century cabaret stylings of her mother through to people like Cher, Pink, Stevie Nicks and Dean Martin.

"I was really lucky to grow up in a very musical household. But at that time, I just thought everybody did," Ms Gillis laughed.

Her live shows include a mix of original material and classic songs from the past, ranging easily between country, blues, roots and pop, all held together by her rich and persuasive voice.

But her concert in Queanbeyan this Sunday will be a more stripped-back and intimate affair, with just Ms Gillis and her acoustic guitar playing material from her five studio albums.

She will also be playing songs from her recent EP,

Always on my Mind

, which was inspired by a trip to Iraq where she entertained Australian troops.

"The biggest feeling I got from everyone over there was that they were forgotten, that people forgot that they were there, and that they were stuck there for three to six months and nobody really cared," she said.

"For me, that's always stuck in my mind, and 'Always on my mind' is my way of saying "no, we are thinking of you. We might not always show it, but we do."

"There's another song on that CD called 'Remember the Wounded,' which is really saying exactly that. There are some that lost their lives [overseas], but there are also those who come home wounded and have to rebuild their lives. It's about that challenge," she said.

There will also be many lighter moments, and travelling tales accrued by touring across the nation and the globe as a country singer.

These days Ms Gillis lives in Sydney with her family, and balances the demands of touring and recording with raising her two daughters, aged 12 and 13.

The two girls have also grown up in a household steeped in music, and Ms Gillis said she's accepted there are some benefits to including her family in the travelling musician lifestyle.

"I think for my children, they're growing up with a different range of experiences, and get to meet some pretty interesting people," she laughed.

"I'm trying to keep the focus on academic pursuits for them as long as possible.

"But they do have music in their blood. There's nothing I can do about that."

Catch Nicki Gillis at the Artists Shed, 14 Foster Street, Queanbeyan, this Sunday from 4pm, with support from Fred Pilcher. Tickets are $12, or $10 for concessions.

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