Joy McKean, an Australian singer-songwriter who was a trailblazer for women in country music, has died aged 93.
McKean was married to legendary singer-songwriter Slim Dusty for nearly sixty years, and wrote some of the hit songs that propelled him to stardom.
McKean began writing and singing in the 1950s, when there were still very few women performers in the country music industry. One of her earliest hits was ‘A Pub with No Beer’, which was recorded by Slim Dusty in 1957 and became one of Australia’s most iconic songs.
McKean was particularly acclaimed for her storytelling, often drawing on her own life experiences to convey universal emotions. Like ‘A Pub with No Beer’, most of her compositions were written about life in the bush. She also wrote about the outback, the lives of rural families, and the plight of Indigenous Australians.
McKean’s commitment to preserving the legacy of country music and her willingness to inspire and nurture new talent was widely recognised during her lifetime. In 2012, she and Slim Dusty were inducted into the Country Music Roll of Renown, and later in 2016, she was awarded the Order of Australia for her services to the Australian country music industry.
McKean’s influence has left a lasting mark on Australian country music, and younger artists are now carrying on her legacy.
“She was a brilliant person at telling a story.” said country music star Kasey Chambers. ‘She opened some amazing doors for songwriters, particularly female songwriters.’
McKean was certainly a trailblazer, and she will be remembered for her incredible talent as a songwriter, her commitment to preserving the Australian country music tradition, and her willingness to support and inspire up-and-coming singers and songwriters.