Why country music's Rachael Fahim should compete at 'Eurovision - Australia Decides'
When organisers choose acts for Australia Decides they often talk about it being a "dinner party" of different artist and styles.
This helps create a diverse line up and helps produce a live show that avoids being stale with something to offer to most viewers.
One genre that has yet to get a seat at the table is country music.
Country music is a half billion dollar industry in Australia and one of the largest markets outside the United States and deserves its place on the Australia Decides stage.
But which Australian artist can make country music work in a Eurovision setting?
My choice would be Rachael Fahim.
Who is Rachael?
Rachael Fahim is a 26-year-old singer-songwriter from the outer Sydney suburbs of Cherrybrook.
In 2017 she won the Star Maker of the year at the Tamworth Country Music Festival after previously making the Top 10 in 2015.
The award has been won by global star Keith Urban and guarantees the winner touring slots across Australia.
In the last five years, Rachael has done over 800 gigs including the prestigious SXSW festival in the United States.
She's released two EPs with singles 'Brake Lights' and 'Middle Ground' go no.2 and no.1 respectively on the Australian Country Music Charts.
She also has a side project as a singer in the all female group 'Southbound' who have also reached no.1 on the same charts.
So other than her country industry success why would she be an ideal candidate?
Style with broad appeal
Country music in Australia generally goes in two directions, strong authentic Aussie accents appealing to a domestic market or a faux American twang to try and break it big in the States.
Rachael's voice however has more broad appeal and lends itself to the style of country pop.
She also understands the power of the visual, with her music videos avoiding the cliché stereotypes of country music to show off both the vulnerability and power of a young woman in 2021.
Despite being a relatively young performer in the industry, Rachael has racked up hundreds of live gigs in Australia and the United States.
Going through a high pressure competition format with 'Star Maker' multiple times is also a big tick.
SXSW is the largest music festival of its kind in the world and although it's not a TV audience of 200 million, the pressure to perform and to try and crack the American market is immense.
That competitive and international experience would be invaluable in a live TV environment, that many artists can find difficult.
During the last five years there has been a few iterations in both style and genre for Fahim.
Her early career was heading for a very expected American approach with songs coming out of Nashville with slick music videos and styling.
In recent times she has been both more paired back in a solo approach while taking part in a side project with a very different style.
The band 'Southbound' is a four member all female country group with higher tempo songs with a nod to the American market while keeping an Australian edge that have done incredibly well on country airplay including 'Find Our Way' featuring Shannon Noll.
Although she has now left the group, this ability to adapt is something artists need to mould their work to fit in with the Eurovision sphere.
Likeable and authentic
Connecting through the TV lens and coming off true to yourself is something key at Eurovision.
Being a singer-songwriter in an industry like country music itself comes stacked with authenticity and jury appeal.
Add in a likeable "girl-next-door" appeal that audiences of all types warm to, it would be hard not to want to pick up your phone to vote for her.
Not only is she experienced with broad appeal and authenticity, but she can sing!
She can sing pop, slow melodic country ballads but also belt out a power note.
This live vocal of 'Middle Ground' shows that ability at 2:23 in and something we all know is a must to do well in a national final or at Eurovision itself.
The genre can work
You may be thinking, "that's all well and good, but I'm not sure the genre can work for Eurovision."
You only have to look at one nation in recent times that shows that country music can work - The Netherlands.
They've sent soft country ballads, crooning male solos and country rock with all of them making the Grand Final in recent years.
The Common Linnets of course finished runner-up in 2014 with 'Calm After the Storm' while Australia's own Jane Comerford led Germany to 14th place in 2006 with 'Never Ever'.
Additionally national finals across Europe have been littered with country music or country influenced pop including Anna Bergendahl at Melodifestivalen. You can read more about the genre at Eurovision in our Top 10 Eurovision related country music songs article.
So will we see Rachael at Australia Decides? Who knows! But with solo work coming out we can expect bigger things from this talented young artist.
You can follow and discover more music by Rachael Fahim via:
And her website: https://www.rachaelfahim.com