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Akers making her own ground on self-produced album

GOLDEN GIRL: Kurri Kurri’s Kirsty Lee Akers took full control of her music on her latest album Under My Skin.KIRSTY Lee Akers is “bloody exhausted.” And it’s hardly surprising.
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Over thepast six weeks the Kurri Kurri country star has flogged herself like a draft horse.

She’s performed at theBuckle and Boots Festival in the UK, played the iconic Calgary Stampede in Canada, previewed her latest albumat her local haunt,the East Cessnock Bowling Club, and in Launceston, and last weekend she rocked the Groundwater Country Music Festival on the Gold Coast.

Akers arrived back in Newcastle in the early hours of Monday morning, only to grab some brief sleep and begin packing to fly back to Canada on Tuesday for the Big Valley Jamboree in Alberta.

On Sunday she finally arrives home for an extended period.

“I’m looking forward to getting home and being able to breathe for five minutes,” Akers saysbefore flying back to Canada.

In between the constant travel and changing time zones, Akersreleased her fifth album Under My Skin last week.

For the first time in her career the Golden Guitar-winner took full control of the creative process. Under My Skin was self-produced and recorded at Newcastle’s Tommirock Studio with her own touring band.

It’s resulted in a more country pop-rock sound, heavily influenced by Akers’ heroes, Shania Twain and Sheryl Crow.

Kirsty Lee Akers – Under My SkinNext to the upbeattitle track and opener Skeletons, there’s the heart-wrenching House Full Of Flowers(Hannah’s Song), a tribute for Mount Vincent teenager Hannah Rye, who died lastAugust from Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare form of cancer.

Anunfortunate result of Akers taking greater creative control in the studio was therise inpressure she left prior to therelease of the album. Thesuccess of her 2016 record Burn Baby Burn, which spawned six country No.1 singles, was another factor.

Last week she wrote on Instagram that she’d broken down in tears in the showerdue to the pressure she feltto produce another hit album.

“For an artist there is a lot of pressure on you, especially when you have record labels to answer to,” she says.

“Normally I don’t let that pressure get to me, but that day I had a lot of crap going on in my life and it just got a bit too much for me.

Kirsty Lee AkersUnder My Skin, but feltelements of self doubt.

“When you have had an album that’s so successful,you want to try and match that success or even go one better,” she says.

“That all definitely comes into it. As an artist you’ve got to tell yourself not to focus on all that crap and focus on the music, but it does creep into your mind every now and again.”

Don’t mistake Akers’ feelings of self-doubt as weakness. The 30-year-old has reached a point in her career where she is empowered enough to set her own agenda.

She’s a world away from the baby-faced teenager who won the Star Maker at the Tamworth Country Music Festival in 2007.

“A lot of women might doubt themselves and normally it’s more of a man’s world in the recording studio, but I myself have been doing this my whole life,” Akers says.

“I released my first album 11 years ago, so I think I know what I’m doing by now, so I’m just glad I had the courage to step into the producer’s seat.”

Akers says she has experiencedmisogyny in the music industry, particularly in studios, and it’s something she no longer tolerates.

“If I find someone on the team who’slike that, they’re not around for much longer,” she says.“It was a lot harder when I first started out because I was naive and young and didn’t know the ways of the world and just took what wasgiven to me.

“As you get older you can figure it out for yourself and I’m lucky that I’m finally surrounded by amazing people and most of them are men and they take direction great from a woman.”

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