Staff at The Academy
Lyn Bowtell – Academy Director
Nine-time Golden Guitar winner Lyn Bowtell’s musical journey began in the Country Music Clubs of the Darling Downs and has led her to stages all over Australia and around the world, as well as landing her a spot on national television on Channel Nine’s ‘The Voice’ Australia (Season Six). Lyn first came to prominence as a songwriter and singer for multi-award winning Country Pop trio Bella. Since then, she has released two critically acclaimed solo albums, ’Secret Songs’ in 2012 and ‘Heart of Sorrow’ in 2014, and in addition to her stellar solo career, Lyn makes up one third of Australian Folk Country super-group, Bennett, Bowtell & Urquhart.
Lyn Bowtell is a Toyota Star Maker winner, MO Award winner, APRA Song of The Year finalist and nine-time Golden Guitar winner, having recently picked up two Golden Guitars with Luke O’Shea at the 2020 Awards. Lyn has had a long and positive involvement with The Academy, from her time as a former student to this, her fifth year as Academy Director.
Roger Corbett – Academy General Manager
Roger Corbett has been the General Manager of The Academy for the last seven years, but his history with the organisation goes way back. Prior to being appointed as GM, Roger took on the roles of Academy Director, Group Leader, Guest Songwriter and Songwriting and Instrumental Masterclass Tutor, which he started doing in 1998. Since then, Roger has trained some of the country music industry’s most successful artists. “It has been a wonderful experience to train these emerging artists and then see them take on the world. It’s what keeps me interested in The Academy project, and hopefully it will continue long after I’m not around.”
Roger has also been an integral member of the multi-award winning, iconic Aussie band The Bushwackers for 40 years and has been attending the Tamworth Country Music Festival since 1981. The Bushwackers have released 25 albums, won three Golden Guitars, three MO Awards, have four gold records and were inducted into the Australasian Country Music Roll of Renown in January 2021. Boasting a touring and recording career spanning 50 years, The Bushwackers continue to perform to sell-out crowds whenever they go.
Samantha Taylor – Administration/Social Media Coordinator
Director of Taylor Made Artist Services, Sam saw a niche market where she could put her ten years as an Executive Assistant at her local council to good use within the music industry, by applying her organisational and administrative skills to assist artists with the day-to-day running of their businesses. As well as The Academy, her clients include the CMAA, Fanny Lumsden, The Bushwackers, Montgomery Church and emerging artist, Rory Phillips.
Rebecca Gracie – Publicity/Print Media
Rebecca Gracie of The Country Journo has been a country music journalist for more than 20 years, a publicist for four years and also works as an artist manager. She served as the entertainment, country music, defence and a general news reporter at The Northern Daily Leader in Tamworth for 13 years, has written for Country Music Capital News for more than a decade and has also written for Country Update Magazine.
The Country Journo opened its doors in 2016 in Tamworth, catering for the media needs of the country music industry. Since then, Rebecca has worked from Australia’s Country Music Capital writing bios and looking after the promotional and media needs of multiple artists. Rebecca has also worked for festivals including the Gympie Music Muster, Live on the Lachlan and Country on Keppel in various roles.
As a board member of the Country Music Association of Australia (CMAA), Rebecca is actively involved in the Golden Guitar Awards and CMAA Academy of Country Music where she manages all print media and promotion.
Vanessa Byrnes – Student Coordinator and Cultural Liaison (Yorta Yorta Nation)
As leader in Aboriginal Education and Performing Arts at St Mary of the Angels Secondary College Nathalia, Vanessa brings 20 years’ experience in mentoring and nurturing students. Vanessa has a comprehensive knowledge around OHS and Cultural Protocols to allow The Academy to be an inclusive safe environment for all students and staff.
Academy Senior Group Leaders (Jan 2020)
Kevin Bennett (Kamilaroi Nation): Kevin Bennett (KB) is a respected singer/songwriter with Sydney roots band The Flood, as well as a CMAA Golden Guitar winner and ARIA nominee in 2006 (with The Flood for Best Group) and 2011 (with Kasey Chambers for Vocal Collaboration).
In 2005 KB discovered through a family history search that he had Aboriginal blood and belonged to the Kamilaroi tribe of Northern New South Wales. His songs had always attempted to capture slices of Australian life, particularly the treatment of Aboriginal people, so this confirmation of his heritage was the stimulus to do more in a tangible way. He has been involved in several Indigenous Songwriting/Musical Skills and Mentoring projects with Tamworth Regional Council, APRA and lately with the Jimmy Little Foundation, travelling to remote communities and interacting with school age children in a Music/Health program. In 2008 he was invited to appear at The Dreaming Festival with The Flood and in 2011 was asked to be an indigenous ambassador for APRA .
KB is a popular co-writer having penned songs with Kim Richey, Troy Cassar-Daley, Shane Nicholson, Felicity Urquhart, Lyn Bowtell, Broderick Smith, and many more. ‘Paul Kelly’s Blues’, KB’s song about his early life on a sawmill in The Pilliga, was nominated for APRA Song of the Year. More recently, KB has also been part of Bennett, Bowtell and Urquhart, a harmony-driven, alt-country trio with two successful albums to their credit, who have taken both Best Group and Alternative Album Golden Guitars at the 2017 awards and Vocal Collaboration in 2019.
KB has been a senior group leader at The Academy since 2014.
Lachlan Bryan: Golden Guitar winner and front man and songwriter for alt-country band The Wildes. Over the past 7 years he’s released 4 records and played countless shows across Australia and America. 2017 will see a new album from Lachlan as well as plenty of touring across Australia, America and Europe.
Simon Johnson: Simon is a musician and producer who work out of his Hillbilly Hut Studio on the Central Coast. He has played bass for many of our best known country music stars and is an ARIA Award winning producer. He’s worked with many stars of the future in his studio and is the Group Leader for the Instrumental group in 2017.
Catherine Britt: Multi Award Winning performer, musician, songwriter, Catherine has been a Group leader twice in the last three years. Catherine is also a Festival organiser, music producer, broadcaster and magazine owner. In fact there really isn’t much Catherine hasn’t done in her stellar career.