Our guests for this episode are The French Family Band, Camille, Stuie, and Sonny.
Living in Nashville today, over the last almost 20 years, the duo known as Camille and Stuie became beloved in Australia. They earned three Australian Golden Guitar Awards for country music. recognized both their singing and playing: In 2013, the couple earned their first trophy together for Best Alternative Country Album of the Year, while in 2017, Stuie received Best Instrumental Album honors for his stunning “Axe to Swing”. Two of the pair’s original songs––“Gone for All Money” and “Pretty Katalina”––were also featured on the wildly popular Australian television drama “A Place to Call Home”.
Nashville noticed. Grammy-winning Western Swing maestros “The Time Jumpers” invited Stuie and Camille to sit in at the group’s “3rd & Lindsley residency”. That night, grinning widely, and dazzling both a crowd already accustomed to greatness and their fellow musicians on stage, Stuie and Camille realized dreams that had begun in grade school.
Stuie grew up in Tasmania. Felt drawn to the guitar and his father and big brother’s old Johnny Cash records, Stuie became a monster player with chops that sublimely meld the virtuosity and instinct of jazz with the clear tone and restraint of American hillbilly roots music.
Stuie’s prodigious skill led to high-profile sideman gigs with Australia’s top touring artists, as well as recognition from his own heroes including Tommy Emmanuel, who asked Stuie to serve as a tutor at the Tommy Emmanuel Guitar Camp Australia, and Les Paul, who invited Stuie on stage to play with him in New York. Stuie also toured and jammed with his idol Merle Haggard on the latter’s Australian tour as a member of the opening band.
Camille, née Camille Te Nahu, was raised in New Zealand. A Maori whose mother was also part Samoan, Camille grew up immersed in a tight-knit familial culture that encouraged singing and dancing. Her voice, somehow both crisply expressive and immeasurably rich and smooth, can sit back to soothe in a pocket before jumping out to thrill. Camille made her way to Australia, where gigs as a backup vocalist for established greats including Kasey Chambers family soon followed. She never forgot her roots––and they never forgot her. Years later, New Zealand’s television series “Unsung Heroes of Maori Music” would devote an entire episode to Camille.
They’re also parents to three children, and while 15-year-old son Chet has recently picked up the bass guitar to begin joining family jams, it’s been 12-year-old Sonny who transformed a successful duo into The French Family.
Now performing as The French Family, Camille, Stuie, and Sonny are acclimating to life stateside––deep roots in tow.