Col HARDY OAM (1979)

Col Hardy

Born and raised in Brewarrina, north-western New South Wales, Col is a Kamilaroi man who came from a large family of 11 children. "I grew up with music all around me," he says. "Before I moved to Sydney I worked in the shearing shed with my dad and we used to listen to the radio at night. In those days one of my favourite singers was Roy Orbison."

Col moved to Sydney in his twenties.

1962 – Moved to Sydney to pursue a musical career and met Myrtle Cox, who was very interested in Aboriginal people. She recorded some of my music on a tape recorder and sent it to NAIDOC. And that's how it started - NAIDOC played a big part in bringing me out."

1960’s - Col was part of the Opals, a country outfit and sometime house band for Jimmy Little's travelling All-Coloured Revue in the early '60s.

1970s - He was winning over all-white audiences at Tamworth. In the latter part of that decade he would often perform at clubs with Auriel Andrew. He has toured Australia extensively and performed with some of the biggest names in country music.

1972 – In April he recorded his first EP on Opal Records.

1973 - Col was the first Aboriginal person to win a Golden Guitar, at the Australasian Country Music Awards in Tamworth. He won the Radio Listener Award. This award has not been awarded since.

1979 - Inducted into the Country Music Hands of Fame.

1990 - During NAIDOC Week, Col was voted New South Wales' Aboriginal Artist of the Year for New South Wales.

When not sharing the gift of his voice with other people, Col works at Taronga Park Zoo where he tells stories and sings.

2007 – Received the Medal of the Order of Australia “for service to the country music industry as a singer and recording artist, and to the community through the delivery of outreach zoological education programs in regional areas”

2016 - MO Awards - Male Country arist.