TC Cassidy returns to the stage at the Tamworth Country Music Festival after 30-year hiatus

It was meant to be a 12-month break.

At 16, TC Cassidy had recorded her first album, received two Golden Guitar Award nominations, and was touring with the likes of Lee Kernaghan and Keith Urban.

“I guess I was overwhelmed, in a word,” she said.

TC Cassidy returns to the stage at the Tamworth Country Music Festival after 30-year hiatus
Country music star Keith Urban came up in the industry around the same time as Cassidy.(Supplied: TC Cassidy)

“I had this cracking album with brilliant players, brilliantly produced by Garth Porter [who] shopped it around and got me a record deal with Festival Records.

“I look back and I think ‘Wow, who does that at 16?’.”

But it took Cassidy almost 30 years to return to the studio and let go of the secret that kept her away. 

Rising star

Angus Gill, an award winning singer/songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist, first heard TC Cassidy’s music while working as a presenter at a community radio station on the Mid North Coast.

A young man with cropped blond hair stands in a paddock.
Angus Gill first met TC Cassidy in a Port Macquarie gym.(Supplied)

“I’m such a big fan of traditional country music; when it’s played right it makes you cry, it’s so powerful and so pure,” he said.

So years later when Gill walked into a gym in Port Macquarie, he knew immediately that the woman behind the counter with the layered pixie cut was TC Cassidy.

“She looked at me sideways and said ‘How do you know that name?’,” he said.

A woman stands on stage under a pink light holding a guitar while a man faces away holding a fiddle
TC Cassidy in her element, back on stage after 30 years.(ABC News: Olivia Ralph)

Secrets and motherhood

Cassidy defines the time she spent away from music as two distinct periods.

“I battled an eating disorder from when I was a teenager … bulimia, and that pretty much consumes you,” she said.

“I can honestly say that my eldest daughter, Shelby, who is 15 this year, saved my life.

“The day I found out I was pregnant was the day that I knew I had to stop … and then it was motherhood.”

black and white photo of a woman who stands in front of a theatre curtain holding a guitar while a teenage girl stands behind
TC Cassidy hopes her daughters are inspired to follow their own creative paths.(ABC News: Olivia Ralph)

Cassidy had settled into a quiet life in Port Macquarie with her husband and two daughters when Gill came to her with the idea for the single Ain’t Too Late (To Start Again).

Gill’s star in country music was on the rise after performing at Nashville’s famous Grand Ole Opry and winning his first Golden Guitar for Best Bush Ballad.

“It was quite humbling, a young kid that’s doing wonders in the country music scene really admired my music,” Cassidy said.

Ain’t too late

Before long, the two had co-written an entire album, Travelling Heart, which is up for Best Traditional Country Album at tonight’s Golden Guitar Awards.

“We had two number one singles from the album and our song Ain’t Too Late (To Start Again) stayed in the charts for weeks,” Gill said.

A group of women stand around laughing together in a backstage area
TC Cassidy chats backstage with other artists at the 2023 Tamworth Country Music Festival.(ABC News: Olivia Ralph)

The critical success of Travelling Heart caught TC Cassidy by surprise.

“To be in the top five of an album category just blows my mind,” she said.

“I just did not expect it because I’ve been absent for thirty years.”

A woman talks to a man in a large felt hat while two teen-aged girls look on
Cassidy says her husband, Josh, and two daughters, Shelby and Tilly, have encouraged her.(ABC News: Olivia Ralph)

Support from the industry and continued encouragement from her family has helped Cassidy feel comfortable to plan the next steps of her musical career.

“My family has been my driving force, encouraging me to follow my passion in music and I’m so thankful [Angus] tapped me on the shoulder, because I’m now doing what I should never have stopped doing,” she said.

“I’m just in my element.”

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