Troy Cassar-Daley is one of Australia's most popular modern country musicians. He is known for his down-to-earth charm, his duets with iconic performers such as Slim Dusty and Jimmy Barnes, and his appearances on the television show It Takes Two.
Cassar-Daley was born to an aboriginal mother and a Maltese father and spent his childhood split between them. He lived with his mother in the town of Grafton, New South Wales and with his father in Sydney. Somewhere between the two he visited the Tamworth Country Music Festival as a boy and found his life permanently changed. He taught himself the guitar and busked outside a music shop, although he only knew four songs and had to repeat them to fill the 15 minutes the store allowed him.
As a teenager, Cassar-Daley formed a band called Little Eagle, who made the Top Ten finalists of Tamworth's Star Maker Quest and later won the Search for a Star competition. After touring outback Australia with Brian Young, he returned to Grafton to become lead singer of the Blue Heeler Band, filling a position vacated by James Blundell, who went on to a successful solo career.
Cassar-Daley recorded the song "Dream Out Loud" without the aid of a band, and it was released by Sony Music in 1995. It rose to number one on the Australian country music charts and was quickly followed by his popular album Beyond the Dancing, which won the ARIA Award for Best Country Record and a Golden Guitar for Best Male Vocal at Tamworth Country Music Festival, where he became a regular.
His follow-up, 1997's True Believer, won him three more Golden Guitars. Each successive release would win him more accolades: Big River in 1999, Long Way Home in 2002, Borrowed & Blue -- which featured several covers and duets, including songs with Paul Kelly and Ian Moss -- in 2004, and Brighter Day in 2005.
Cassar-Daley appeared on two seasons of It Takes Two, a televised singing competition that pairs professional performers with celebrities. In 2007 he released a greatest-hits collection named after his song "Born to Survive." He then signed with the independent Australian record label Liberation, which released his I Love This Place in 2009, Live in 2010 from a performance recorded at the Seymour Centre in Sydney, and Home in 2012. In 2013, he paired with countryman Adam Harvey to cover classics for The Great Country Songbook on Sony Music. Freedom Ride followed in March 2015 on Liberation and featured collaborations with Jimmy Barnes and, on the title track honoring the Freedom Ride of 1965 (which led to federal civil rights for Indigenous Australians), Paul Kelly. ~ Jody Macgregor