Catherine Elisabeth Britt (born 31 December 1984) is a country music artist who has had success in both her native Australia and in the United States. She started her career in Newcastle in 1999, she moved to Nashville from 2004 to 2009 and then returned to Australia. Britt has had three singles in top 40 on the US Billboard Hot Country Songs charts with "The Upside of Being Down", her highest, peaking at No. 36 in 2004. Britt has released five studio albums in Australia, where four have appeared on the ARIA Albums Chart, Too Far Gone (16 January 2006), Little Wildflower (14 January 2008), Catherine Britt (28 May 2010) and Always Never Enough (10 August 2012). All five albums have been nominated for ARIA Music Awards in the category, Best Country Album. At the Country Music Awards of Australia Britt has won three Golden Guitar trophies, Female Artist of the Year for "What I Did Last Night" (2009) and "Charlestown Road" (2013), and Single of the Year for "Sweet Emmylou" (2011)
Catherine Elisabeth Britt was born on 31 December 1984 in Newcastle. Her father, Steve Britt, is a school counsellor and her mother, Anne, is a teacher-librarian; they have three older sons. Steve has a vast collection of records, especially material by country music artists. From the age of ten Britt was singing in her home drawing inspiration from Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn and Hank Williams. Britt was a reluctant music student, "I got singing lessons for a while and hated it ... I hate people telling me what to do with my music and stuff. They used to tell me to sing all this Natalie Imbruglia stuff so I quit them. I had guitar lessons from the same guy and he taught me the basic chords and I gave that up once I knew all the basic chords, thinking that will do me."
Her first effort at song writing, "Guardian Angel", occurred when she was 11, she later recalled, "it was pretty bad". In the following year her parents took her to meet Australian country musician, Bill Chambers, who invited Britt on stage to duet on "T. B. Blues", a cover version of Jimmie Rodgers' original. A week later Britt sang solo at a Merle Haggard tribute concert in Sydney presented by Chambers.
In 1999 Britt independently released her debut four-track extended play, In the Pines, which was produced by Chambers - she was aged 14. It included the track, "That Don't Bother Me!", co-written with Chambers' daughter, Kasey - who also provided backing vocals. Britt preferred to write on her own, however, she enjoyed working with Kasey "because we were such great friends, and we knew each other and we knew we both were coming from the same place when it came to music."
Britt issued her first studio album, Dusty Smiles and Heartbreak Cures, on 16 May 2001, also independently and produced by Bill Chambers. It contained "a half-dozen originals, as well as covers of Williams and Haggard". She then signed to ABC Music/ABC Country to re-release the album on 11 March 2002. In May Elton John, who was touring Australia, heard her album; he met Britt and recommended her to industry contacts in the United States.Dusty Smiles and Heartbreak Cures appeared on the ARIA Country Chart in July that year, peaking at No. 18. At the ARIA Music Awards of 2002 Britt received her first nomination for Country Album of the Year. Late in 2002 Britt, for three weeks, supported the Australian leg of a tour by Chris Isaak. Her backing band included Kurt Bailey on drums and Ben Conicella on bass guitar.
Britt attended the Country Music Awards of Australia, held in Tamworth, in January 2003 and told Debbie Kruger of Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA) of her writing process for the album, "The way I write songs is a bit strange ... I just sit down and it'll be five minutes, and the song will just come out on paper, and then I'll have to look back on it and go, 'Right, does this make sense?' I hardly ever change my words, ever, I always just write them down and that's it. That real five minute rush, I guess." For some lyrics she would check with her parents "I really didn't even know what it meant. And that happens a lot of the time for me, I have to go to Mum and Dad and say, 'Does this make sense?' And every time it does." Brendan Hutchens of TV series, George Negus Tonight, interviewed Britt for "Episode 5", broadcast on 5 March 2003. She described touring with Isaak "It's been great, he's been kind to me and his whole band's really good to me, so it's better than I thought".
In 2004, she moved to Nashville, Tennessee, and was soon signed to RCA Nashville for international releases. Her US debut single, "The Upside of Being Down", peaked at No. 36 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs in August that year. In July 2005 Britt and John released a country music duet, "Where We Both Say Goodbye", which was co-written by Britt with Jerry Salley. The single entered at No. 49 on the Hot Country Songs - John's first appearance on that chart.
Britt's second album, Too Far Gone, was released in Australia on 16 January 2006. It had been recorded in Nashville with Chalmers co-producing with Keith Stegall (Alan Jackson, George Jones, Jamie O'Neal). Session musicians include Kenny Chesney on backing vocals, Stuart Duncan on fiddle and mandolin, Mark Fain on upright bass, Paul Franklin on steel guitar, Rob Ickes on dobro, Brent Mason on guitars (acoustic, electric), Dave Pomeroy on bass guitar, Hargus "Pig" Robbins on piano, John Wesley Ryles on backing vocals, Bruce Watkins on acoustic guitar and Glenn Worf on bass guitar. In Australia the album reached No. 47 on the ARIA Albums Chart and No. 3 on the related Country Chart. Tim Noel of comcast.net opined "may not be strong enough to share with your friends as far as an introduction to Britt. There is some strong material here such as 'Swingin' Door' and 'Poor Man's Pride', but it's filled with mediocre stuff that sounds like late 90s material... I know Britt has a more rocking side that should hopefully come out in her upcoming album."
At the ARIA Music Awards of 2006 Britt, with Too Far Gone, received her second nomination for Country Album of the Year. From May to October 2007 Britt was an opening act for a co-headlining tour of the US by Alan Jackson with Brooks & Dunn. Britt recorded her third studio album, Little Wildflower, with Brett Beavers producing (Dierks Bentley) in Nashville. It was released on 14 January 2008 in Australia, which reached No. 6 on the ARIA Country Albums chart; it provided Britt with her third ARIA Award nomination in Best Country Album in 2008.
Its lead single, "What I Did Last Night", appeared in May 2007 and peaked at No. 39 on the US Hot Country Songs chart. When Brooks & Dunn toured Australia, during March 2008, they were supported by Britt. By April 2008 Britt was dropped from RCA's roster without releasing any albums in the US market. Britt returned to live in Newcastle by 2009.
Britt contacted Chambers to produce her next album, Catherine Britt, and he co-opted his then-son-in-law, Shane Nicholson, as co-producer. It was recorded at Sing Sing Studios in Melbourne. The track, "Call You Back Town", which Britt co-wrote with Ashley Monroe, relates to her experiences in Nashville; Britt recalled "it can be a very harsh place at times, wonderful place too ... I saw both sides of it. This song was a result of seeing that side at certain stages and how I felt about that. No, they never call you back - you call and leave a message and they never get back to you." The album, which reached No. 5 on the ARIA Country Albums chart, was also nominated for Best Country Album in 2010 at the ARIA Awards ceremony.
Britt's fifth studio album, Always Never Enough, was released on 10 August 2012, which peaked at No. 44 on the ARIA Albums Chart and No. 3 on its Country Albums Chart. The album was recorded in Austin, Texas at Cedar Creek Studios with Britt and Chambers co-producing. Sophie Hamley of Jolene: The Country Music Blog felt it was "her masterpiece" with "not a single song that I want to skip over or not pay close attention to." Also in 2012 Britt received her fifth nomination for Best Country Album at the ARIA Awards ceremony.
In November 2012 Britt, Chambers and Tim Rogers (of You Am I) formed a group, The Hillbilly Killers, as a side project to perform "sad songs, high and lonesome songs, songs with an ache and a hurt undeniable, timeless even. But Chambers wanted those songs to have an edge too. Something a little unhinged. Something dark and unruly." Other members were James Gillard, Michael Muchow on guitar and Shane O'Mara on guitar. Their official debut gig was at the Tamworth Country Music Festival in January 2013.
The group toured Australia's east coast and issued their debut single, "They Call Us the Hillbilly Killers", by March that year. Natalie Salvo of The AU Review caught their performance at The Basement in Sydney on 24 April 2013, Britt Chambers and Rogers each had a brief solo set before the trio were joined by two more musicians, Gillard on double bass and backing vocals, and Paul Novosel on drums. Salvo felt "the now-quintet used everything from guitars to banjo, double bass, slide guitar and stomp box to create just the right mix of homespun charm, venomous love notes, down-to-earth storytelling and country hoedowns." Britt provides rhythm guitar and backing vocals with occasional lead vocals.
On 18 November 2013 Britt issued her first compilation album, The Hillbilly Pickin' Ramblin' Girl So Far..., on ABC Music and Universal Music Australia. The album reached No. 20 on the ARIA Country Albums Chart. A new track, "Who Cares", was issued as a single. In mid-2014 Britt was featured vocalist on a single by Graham Rodger, "Reach Out", which appeared on his album, Dust and Leather. The charity single was provided for the Trans Help Foundation, which highlights the well-being of truck drivers.
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