Eight-time ARIA-award winner Amy Shark is the definition of an Australian success story, but she’s the first to tell us that she didn’t get to where she was alone.
Here, she pays tribute to the women who helped make her the number one Australian artist she is today.
Since I was born, Nan has been the most consistent person in my life and my voice of reason. My parents had me when they were young – they were babies having babies. And my mum didn’t know what she was doing, but luckily my nan did. She was just so nurturing.
As I got older, she was the person who fixed everything. Whenever I was in trouble with school, or later with life decisions and coming up against financial difficulties, she knew exactly what to do and was there to help me every time I needed it. She still is.
Nan is pretty old school, which means she’s really honest. When I told her I was pursuing a career in music, she would always say to me, “Make sure that you have a backup because life is really tough.” But she has also always 100 per cent supported me. Although I don’t know if she totally understands what I do. Whenever I leave for tour, she always says, “Have a good holiday!” and I just laugh.
But she does love music. The other day I was listening to Nina Simone with her and we were talking about the lyric, “You’ve got to learn to leave the table, when love’s no longer being served.” Nan went deep about how important that message is in life. I’ve learnt so much from her. I admire how brave she is. She has inspired me to be fearless and strong.
Alanis was the first voice I heard that was different. It was kind of urgent, angry and unfiltered. I remember when I bought the Jagged Little Pill CD, Mum made me return it because it had the explicit-language warning label on it. But I burnt it off a friend’s copy.
That’s when everything changed for me. I stopped caring about the Spice Girls and *NSYNC or whatever pop group I was into at the time.
Alanis really spoke to me. I remember listening in those early years of high school and thinking this girl sounds so angry, and she doesn’t wear much makeup on stage, and she just wears oversize T-shirts. (I was always wearing my dad’s old shirts.) I just really connected with her. From then on I realised that maybe I could just totally be myself and write what I wanted to write about.
When I met [my husband] Shane, one of the first things I remember him saying was, “You’re obsessed with Oprah.” And he was right. I really have been obsessed with her for so long. My other nan was Canadian, and when she moved out to Australia I think watching Oprah reminded her of home, so whenever I was with her, we would watch The Oprah Winfrey Show together.
I love my mum but, as I said, she was so young when she had me and I remember for a period of time as a kid I wished Oprah was my mum. I think it was because she was so warm and all-knowing. She’s so gracious and polite, always interested in who she’s talking to and well-researched on the subject. She’s also so reliable. Because my life has been a little turbulent, I’ve noticed that I am drawn to people like that. People who have their shit together.
From all the years I’ve spent watching Oprah, I’ve learnt the art of asking questions. Even though I’m the one being interviewed, because of Oprah it’s in me to make sure I ask questions back and get to know that person a little bit in the time we talk. If I were ever to be interviewed by her I’d be so overwhelmed I don’t think I’d be able to speak. I’ve met so many incredible people, but Oprah would be the pinnacle for me – and [actor] Julia Roberts. If that actually happened, I could call it a day.
Catch Amy Shark on her tour See U Somewhere Australia. amyshark.com.