Shirley Thoms

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Bust of Shirley Thoms, Bicentennial Park, Tamworth, NSW Shirley THOMS.JPG
Bust of Shirley Thoms, Bicentennial Park, Tamworth, NSW

Shirley Thoms-Bystrynski (12 January 1925 – 1 July 1999), was an Australian country music singer and pioneer of Australia's country music industry. She was known as Australia's Yodelling Sweetheart.

Australian country music Genre of popular music from Australia

Australian country music is a part of the music of Australia. There is a broad range of styles, from bluegrass, to yodeling to folk to the more popular. The genre has been influenced by Celtic and English folk music, the Australian bush ballad tradition, as well as by popular American country music. Themes include: outback life, the lives of stockmen, truckers and outlaws, songs of romance and of political protest; and songs about the "beauty and the terror" of the Australian bush. Early pioneers included Tex Morton, Smoky Dawson, Buddy Williams, Slim Dusty and Johnny Ashcroft all members of the Australian Roll of Renown.

Country music, also known as country and western, and hillbilly music, is a genre of popular music that originated in the southern United States in the early 1920s. It takes its roots from genres such as American folk music and blues.



Thoms was born in 1925, in Toowoomba, Queensland and was raised in a family of seven children. She began her career singing and yodelling songs by Tex Morton and Harry Torrani, and won a Bundaberg talent quest with Torrani's Mockingbird Yodel. In 1941, aged 16, with what is now EMI Records she became the first female solo act to record country music in Australia, as well as the first Queenslander to be featured on disc. [1] This first batch of songs included ""Faithful Old Dog". She went on to tour Australia and New Zealand, entertaining the troops during World War II and writing songs. Thoms became known by the title of Australia's Yodelling Sweetheart. She later toured with Sole Bros Circus and met her first husband John Sole. The couple had a son, Peter and Thoms stepped away from show business, however John Sole died prematurely. In 1970, Thoms came out of retirement to appear on the Captain Cook Bicentenary Show in the Tamworth Town Hall and briefly revived her career with album releases in 1970 and 1972. [2]

Toowoomba City in Queensland, Australia

Toowoomba is a regional city in the Darling Downs region in the Australian state of Queensland. It is 125 km (78 mi) west of Queensland's capital city Brisbane by road. The estimated urban population of Toowoomba as of June 2017 was 135,631. A university and cathedral city, it hosts the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers each September and national championship events for the sports of mountain biking and motocross. There are more than 150 public parks and gardens in Toowoomba. It has developed into a regional centre for business and government services. It is also referred to as the capital of the Darling Downs. Toowoomba is served by Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport and the smaller Toowoomba City Aerodrome.

Tex Morton New Zealand country music singer

Tex Morton was a pioneer of New Zealand and Australian country and western music, vaudevillian, actor, television host and circus performer

EMI Records record label founded by the EMI company

EMI Records Ltd. was a British record label founded by the music company of the same name in 1972 as its flagship label, and launched in January 1973 as the successor to its Columbia and Parlophone record labels. The label was later launched worldwide. It has a branch in India called "EMI Records India", run by director Mohit Suri.

Her most popular and best selling recordings were "The Faithful Old Dog", "Where The Golden Wattle Blooms" and "Yodelling In The Moonlight". [3]


She was elevated to the Australian Roll of Renown in 1980 (only the fifth artist to be so honoured and the first woman). She was also inducted into the Country Music Hands of Fame in that same year. [2]

The Australian Roll of Renown was inaugurated by Radio 2TM in 1976. The award honours Australian and New Zealander musicians who have shaped the music industry by making a significant and lasting contribution to Country Music. The award is determined by an independent selection panel, set up under Chairmanship of Max Ellis, one of the original founders of the Roll of Renown, the Awards and the Festival. The inductee is announced at the Country Music Awards of Australia in Tamworth in January.

After suffering from Parkinson's disease and a heart condition, she died in 1999, at Summerland Point, Lake Macquarie, NSW, aged 74. [2]

Parkinsons disease Long-term degenerative neurological disorder that mainly causes problems with movement and balance

Parkinson's disease (PD) is a long-term degenerative disorder of the central nervous system that mainly affects the motor system. As the disease worsens, non-motor symptoms become more common. The symptoms usually emerge slowly. Early in the disease, the most obvious symptoms are shaking, rigidity, slowness of movement, and difficulty with walking. Thinking and behavioral problems may also occur. Dementia becomes common in the advanced stages of the disease. Depression and anxiety are also common, occurring in more than a third of people with PD. Other symptoms include sensory, sleep, and emotional problems. The main motor symptoms are collectively called "parkinsonism", or a "parkinsonian syndrome".


There is a collection of bronze busts in Bicentennial Park, Tamworth that includes Shirley Thoms, Stan Coster, Tex Morton, Gordon Parsons, Barry Thornton and Buddy Williams. [4]

Stan Coster Australian singer

Stan Coster OAM was an Australian country music singer-songwriter. His songs were regularly performed by Slim Dusty and other singers. He is the father of country music singer Tracy Coster.

Gordon Parsons was an Australian country music singer-songwriter, best known as the composer of Slim Dusty's 1957 hit song "A Pub With No Beer". In 1982, Parsons was inducted into the Australian Roll of Renown.

Buddy Williams (country musician) Australian country music singer and songwriter

Buddy Williams, born as Harry Taylor and also known as Harold Williams, was a pioneering Australian country music singer-songwriter, known as "The Yodelling Jackaroo".

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Slim Dusty Australian country music singer

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Mary Schneider AM, is an Australian singer, songwriter and performer, who is a master at the classic Swiss Alpine style, she is best known for yodelling the works of various standards by many a classic composer. Her repertoire has covered everything from yodelling of classical music pieces to marches and European folk music tunes. Her daughter is the ARIA Award winning singer songwriter Melinda Schneider is also an Australian country music entertainer and performer. She mainly appears in club and pub venues around Australia, as well as overseas, but has also performed at many arena venues. She performed with her sister Rita Schneider, as part of The Schneider Sisters singing duo, who in 2002 were inducted into the Australian Roll of Renown.

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  1. Australian country music
  2. 1 2 3 "A Tribute to Tex Morton". Retrieved 2 June 2016.
  3. "The Australian Bush Balladeers Association". Retrieved 2 June 2016.
  4. "Female pioneer honoured in bronze". Tamworth City News. Archived from the original on 26 March 2012. Retrieved 13 August 2011.