By Stevie Connor.
Singer-songwriter Kevin Sullivan was playing at a major country music festival in 2022 when he saw hundreds of line dancers being led by a very energetic instructor.
“For the last five years, I’ve been working on a line dancing concept for song. As an eclectic songwriter across many genres, it was something that had always resonated with me. I hadn’t been able to put all the pieces of the puzzle together, but I realized the piece I had been missing was right in front of me at this music festival as she engaged the crowd with her energy and instruction and amazing dance steps. Until I met international multi-award-winning line dancing champion Maddison Glover, I didn’t realize what an incredible world of dance steps and information was out there about line dancing.
I did a lot of research into the history of line dancing, which originated in Europe from the early round and square dances, to the home of line dancing, in America, where it has an almost cult following. I wanted to write a contemporary line dancing song, with modern moves that would appeal to line dancers internationally and yet give it a cool vintage American country vibe. Over the years I have seen people of all ages line dancing and I wanted to keep the tempo at a 4/4 and write the song with an eight-beat count as that is how line dancers learn each routine. I also learnt that there are so many line dance step terms such as the grapevine, slide, weave, kick-ball, rocking chair, just to name a few. I wanted a dance that was easy to play and easy for people of all ages to learn and to dance to and that’s why I wrote “The Stroll”.
I had also learnt that line dancing has proven to be a perfect exercise regime for those working on their coordination and balance, including cardiovascular health and brain memory and even an effective treatment for Alzheimer’s, dementia and depression. Hell, you can even lose weight and maybe get fit too. As I wrote the song “The Stroll”, I could picture people doing my line dance moves, so I checked in with my line dancing champion friend Maddison who decided to write the line dance moves directly from the song lyrics I had written. I recorded the song with Rod Motbey at Tracking Dog Studios and utilized a solid country bass line, and a double dose of several different sounding electric guitars that give the impression they are moving around on the dance floor showing the line dances the way to go.
There’s even some cool slide guitar, some honky tonk piano work and of course an appropriate key change and to bring it all home, beautiful three - part harmonies from The Sulli-Vans, my oldest son KJ aged 13 years and his youngest daughter Cha Cha aged 11 years. Despite The Sulli-Van kids having performed over 270 shows with me on stage around the country, this will be the first time The Sulli-Vans will be singing on an original song released to radio. The song finishes with the acknowledgement in the last few bars with the line, “..that’s The Stroll”.
Line dancing is such a social pastime and it was just so much fun shooting the music video. We even had Maddison teach her line dancing students this new line dance step, “The Stroll” and and together with Maddison’s Mum and Dad, Tom and Donna, who started Maddison’s line dance studio, all came along to the picturesque location called “The Barn” at Foxground on the south coast of New South Wales together with me and The Sulli-Vans all line dancing across the country side."
Maddison had never been involved in the recording and production of a song and she was very appreciative, saying: “This is the first opportunity I have had to work on a collaborative project with a musician. I have been presented with the opportunity to work alongside Kevin, Belinda and their producer in the recording studio and since then, commence choreography for their latest song.
As an award-winning international line dancer, I feel as though this opportunity has enabled me to grow as an artist. Being included in the recording process has allowed me to appreciate how music is layered and constructed and because of this, I have developed a greater appreciation of music.”
What made the filming of the music video even more memorable for Kevin was the fact for the first time in any of his videos for The Sulli-Vans, his oldest son Kj and youngest daughter Cha Cha sing and feature prominently in the video clip together with youngest sibling Jet aged 7.
Kevin’s two older daughters Emily and Alexandra and even his wife Belinda all featured in the music video as this amazing new song and line dance was born and like the first line of “The Stroll” says, “Young or old, here’s your goal, come on now let’s go for a stroll” We cant wait to play this song LIVE at Tamworth in 2024 and have the crowd dancing to “The Stroll”.
Download dance steps for “The Stroll” on the website: www.copperknob.co.uk
Kevin Sullivan has packed a lot into the last seven years with the major switch from Police Forensic Crime Scene Investigator to award-winning eclectic singer-songwriter with a music career spanning the last two decades.
A recent career highlight was when Kevin appeared along with his singing children, The Sulli-Vans on Channel 7’s, The Voice: Generations. They perform original music, characterised by great Australian storytelling, humour and love, along with memorable covers of iconic country, folk, alt country and contemporary music. They won hearts around the country when they appeared on The Voice Generations, with Keith Urban remarking, “your beautiful Australian spirit was so present and gorgeous”.
Kevin Sullivan is already acclaimed by audiences for his diverse sound and show, taking you on an unforgettable journey from traditional Ballad’s, to anthems and toe tapping line dancing. Sullivan usually writes and performs songs that relate to people, places and culture of Australia, particularly the outback. With influences including his Dad who was a Dixie Land Jazz Pianist, Paul Kelly, Leonard Cohen, Bruce Springsteen and Johnny Cash.
Kevin Sullivans songs are about the stories and during his shows, the crowds hang off every word. Sullivan has a story like no other, as he describes walking through ‘rivers of blood’ as a former Police Forensic Crime Scene investigator, then transcends to whether you cut the ‘red’ or ‘blue’ wire as he defused bombs and headed up the Bomb Desk for the 2000 Sydney Olympics. He even worked in Witness protection watching over both witnesses in major investigations to Presidents, Sultans, Heads of State and other dignitaries.
Sullivan toured Outback Australia during his time off with bands for over 18 years raising money for the Royal Flying Doctors. In 2018, Kevin’s song, “Outback Australia” was a finalist in the Southern Star Awards Mildura. These stories of real people, places and causes have inspired the singer songwriter in his music. One of these stories became a co-written duet with the legendary Bill Chambers – called ‘High Country Snows’, about the High Country Horsemen and the wild Brumbies. Sullivan’s song writing has received multiple awards, notably for his song ‘Pilgrimage’, which in 2022 won the Tamworth Songwriters Association Traditional Country Song of the Year.
The exciting evolution of the NSW South Coast singer/songwriter with his music and sound is evidenced by his Australian SULLI-VAN tours, where despite the Covid pandemic, Kevin took his family on the road in 2020/21 and since then has performed over 270 shows, travelling over 150,000 kilometres.
The travelling family show continued to wow audiences with the release of “The Sulli-Vans” album (2022) featuring unique versions of the songs they perform on tour including much-loved Australian classics, country music and contemporary hits; Some of the highlights from the 14-track album include: ‘Down Under’ (Men At Work), ‘Coat Of Many Colours’ (Dolly Parton), ‘Sounds Of Then (This Is Australia)’ (Gang Gajang) and ‘The Two Of Us’ (Birds Of Tokyo). “The Sulli-Vans” are about to release Part Two in Dec 2023 after they have been inundated with requests for recorded music after each live show.
2024 will see Kevin and The Sulli-Vans continue to win the hearts of Australians with their live shows; setting the stage alight at ‘Blazes’ Auditorium, West Tamworth Leagues Club during the 2024 Tamworth Country Music Festival. In April alone they’ll perform to over 3,500 at the re-enactment at The Man from Snowy River Festival (VIC) and then Kevin will tour Australia launching his new original Album Threeways, later in the year which will be followed by an Album Tour. His much anticipated cowritten autobiography is also due for release in 2025.
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