Beccy Cole (born Rebecca Diane Thompson, 27 October 1972), also known as Beccy Sturzel and Rebecca Diane Albeck, is an Australian country music singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. She has released eight albums, with three reaching the ARIA Albums Chart top 40, Little Victories (20 January 2003), Preloved (3 September 2010) and Songs & Pictures (10 October 2011). Her video album, Just a Girl Singer, peaked at No. 6 on the ARIA Top 40 DVD Chart in August 2004. Cole has received nine Golden Guitar trophies at the CMAA Country Music Awards of Australia. During December 2005 to January 2006 she performed for Australian Defence Force personnel in Iraq. Her single, "Poster Girl (Wrong Side of the World)", expresses her support for the troops. It won the 2007 Song of the Year at CMAA awards, and its music video was listed at No. 1 on Australia's Country Music Channel.
Beccy Cole was born as Rebecca Diane Thompson on 27 October 1972. Her mother is a country music singer, Carole Sturzel. Cole attended Blackwood Primary School. At 14-years-old she started performing in her mother's group, Wild Oats, as Beccy Sturzel. She also performed solo on the South Australian festival circuit. Aside from her mother, Cole's inspirations are Dolly Parton and The Eagles. In 1991 Cole joined a country music group, Dead Ringer Band, led by Bill Chambers; she had met his daughter, Kasey Chambers, in Adelaide in mid-1989. Cole and Chambers performed as a duo at the Port Pirie Country Music Festival, and by 1991 they had busked together on the streets of Tamworth. As a member of Dead Ringer Band Cole provided rhythm guitar, lead and backing vocals, and occasional drums.
Upon the advice of her manager she changed her performance name to Beccy Cole and released her debut solo single, "Foolin' Around", in 1992. In January 1993 at the Country Music Awards of Australia she won the Star Maker award. She won the award again in the following year for performing "Foolin' Around", and received a Golden Guitar trophy for Best New Talent. During 1994 she spent four months touring remote Aboriginal communities in northern Australia. In 1995 Cole featured on the ABC-TV documentary Doesn't Everyone Want a Golden Guitar? and her single, "Take Me Home the Long Way", appeared on the associated soundtrack album of the same name.
In 1996 Cole supplied backing vocals for an album, The Circle Game, by country music duo, Rod McCormack and Mick Albeck; another guest vocalist was Gina Jeffreys. Also that year Cole issued two solo singles, "Hearts Changing Hands" and "Rest in Pieces". The latter single's B-side, "Big Girls", was co-written with Chambers; it was promoted by a music video which featured Albeck as Cole's love interest. On 11 July 1997 her debut album, Beccy Cole, was released by Columbia Records. Cole appeared at "festivals and events throughout the Aussie outback". She toured with Darren Coggan, Felicity, and Adam Harvey as the Young Stars. In 2000 at the Gympie Music Muster the four artists recorded their live cover version of Dolly Parton's "Do I Ever Cross Your Mind".
Her second album, Wild at Heart, was issued on 15 January 2001 by ABC Country and distributed by Universal Music Australia, which peaked at No. 4 on the ARIA Country Albums Chart. It included contributions by Chalmers and Jeffreys on vocals, and McCormack on guitars, keyboards, piano, Hammond organ, mandolin, banjo and backing vocals, as well as producing the album. Rosie Adsett at Country Update felt "she's never been in finer voice, and the enjoyment of finally recording just shines through this one". While The Sydney Morning Herald's Katrina Lobley noted that Cole "unashamedly examines every corner of a recently broken heart. The album's not entirely miserable - her sense of fun bursts out in wild ditties". At the ARIA Music Awards of 2001 Wild at Heart was nominated for Best Country Album. By November 2002 it was re-issued with a five-track bonus disc, including her single, "Life Goes On". For her gigs she also performs on lead guitar, drums, bass guitar, fiddle or piano. In December 2003 Wild at Heart was accredited with a gold certificate for shipment of 35,000 copies.
On 20 January 2003 Cole released her third studio album, Little Victories, which reached the top 30 on the ARIA Albums Chart and No. 4 on the Country Albums Chart. It was produced by McCormack again who also provided banjo, dobro, guitars (acoustic and electric), mandola, mandolin, percussion, as well as mixing and engineering. On the End of Year Charts - Country 2003, the album reached No. 18. Cole co-wrote eight of its tracks with Tamara Stewart (aka Tamara Sloper).Capital News described the work as by "a more mature, more reflective and more confident" artist. At the ARIA Music Awards that year it was nominated for Best Country Album. In December 2005 it was accredited with a gold certificate.
On 2 August 2004 Cole issued a video album, Just a Girl Singer, which included interviews, live concert footage, music videos and archival footage. The album was written, produced and directed by Lindsay Frazer; which peaked at No. 6 on the ARIA Top 40 DVD Chart. It provided Cole's next single, "Sorry I Asked". In the following year, on 11 April, Cole released her next studio album, Feel This Free, which reached the ARIA Albums Chart Top 100 and No. 3 on the ARIA Country Albums Chart. It includes Albeck on violin and fiddle; McCormack on multiple instruments and producing; and Jeffreys and McCormack co-writing tracks with Cole. Simultaneously, Universal Music Australia re-issued two earlier albums, Wild at Heart and Little Victories, as a 2× CD package.
During the festive season of December 2005 and January 2006, Cole joined the Tour de Force series of concerts in Iraq and "across the Middle East" for Australian Defence Force "personnel serving in Operation Catalyst". Also performing at the concerts were Little Pattie (patron of Forces Advisory Council on Entertainment, which organised the tour's entertainers), Angry Anderson, Bessie Bardot, Hayley Jenson, and Lehmo. They were backed by the Royal Australian Navy Band. Anderson later recalled "Cole struck me from the beginning, I mean she's a born entertainer, and I thought, this chick is as funny as hell. The songs that she was singing, original tunes, and just funny and witty".
Upon return to Australia Cole received a letter from a disgruntled former fan who objected to her Tour de Force appearances and declared "I've taken your poster off of my wall and I won't be listening to your music any more". In May 2006 she issued a single, "Poster Girl (Wrong Side of the World)" in response, she declared her support for the Australian diggers but not the Iraq War. Also that month she re-released Feel This Free, with bonus tracks, on Warner Records. In January the following year, at the 35th Country Music Awards of Australia, she received three Golden Guitar trophies for Female Artist of the Year, Single of the Year, and APRA Song of the Year for "Poster Girl (Wrong Side of the World)". On 17 March 2007 Cole appeared on celebrity quiz show, RocKwiz, she performed "Rockabilly Fever" and a duet with Mark Lizotte on "A Good Year for the Roses".
On 15 October 2007 Cole issued her debut live album, Live @ Lizotte's, with guest appearances by Chambers, Jeffreys and Sara Storer. The deluxe version included a DVD of seven live performances and a Behind the Scenes documentary. From that month Cole, Jeffreys and Storer undertook a combined tour as the Songbirds with a backing band of Albeck on fiddle; Duncan Toombs and James Gillard on acoustic guitars and backing vocals; Mal Lancaster on drums; and Ian Lees on bass guitar. Brett Casben of Australian Stage Online compared the three lead vocalists: "Storer is possibly the most visibly disparate of the group bringing to her work a touching lyrical earthiness that reflects a 'mallee' heritage ... Cole is the power house of the production and her personal interpretation of the Storer work, 'Buffalo Bill' was a show stopper ... Jeffreys performs in a more reflective style".
The three artists continued with their respective solo careers but have resumed the Songbirds project periodically. On 29 April 2009 they appeared in a live concert film, Songbirds: You've Got a Friend, which premiered in Australian cinemas: it had been recorded at the Tamworth Country Music Festival on 22 January that year. The related DVD, You've Got a Friend Live in Concert, was released in May by EMI Music Australia. Susan Jarvis of Capital News noted that the "friendship between the three girls is very much in evidence" where each "performs some of their songs solo, but the three come and go in a wonderfully fluid and organic way, providing a feeling of warmth and spontaneity".
On 3 September 2010 Cole issued a covers album, Preloved, on Sony BMG Australia which peaked in the top 40 on the ARIA Albums Chart. Included are her renditions of Neil Young's "Only Love Can Break Your Heart", Deborah Conway's "It's Only the Beginning" and Leiber and Stoller's "(You're So Square) Baby I Don't Care". Cole's version of Parton's "Here You Come Again" was released as the lead single, she told Anita Beaumont of The Newcastle Herald that "it is the least covered song of Dolly's, and I believed the lyrics stand the test of time". Beaumont felt the album showed "quite a bit of country influence ... but some of these songs weren't originally intended for a country audience. They sound pretty rootsy".
Cole's sixth studio album, Songs & Pictures, appeared on 10 October 2011 and reached No. 24 on the ARIA Albums Chart - her highest position. It was produced by Shane Nicholson (Angie Hart, Catherine Britt). The album includes a duet with Chambers, "Millionaires", which they had co-written; Chambers later recalled "It's really the story of our friendship". At the ARIA Music Awards of 2012 Songs & Pictures was nominated for Best Country Album. On 16 May 2013 Cole released her first compilation album, Beccy's Big Hits. She promoted the album with an Australian tour and invited aspiring artists to perform a song on stage, via the Beccy's Search for a Shiny Star competition.
During the mid-1990s Beccy Cole and Gina Jeffreys were flatmates, while Mick Albeck and Rod McCormack were also flatmates. Cole was married to Albeck for two-and-a-half years (1998-99), writing songs as Rebecca Diane Albeck. The couple have a son. Not long after he was born their friends, Jeffreys and McCormack, married each other. Cole's second album, Wild at Heart, dealt with her divorce; the track "Lazy Bones" was written about Albeck and their short marriage. According to Albeck "it was tough sometimes when we were touring together, living together, bringing up the baby together and having to be on stage together at night. I guess I decided I didn't want the relationship anymore. That was pretty tough for Bec at the time".
By August 2004 Cole was living in the Central Coast region with other country musicians nearby including Kasey Chambers, Jeffreys and McCormack, and Adam Harvey: the artists call the local area, Hillbilly Heaven. Albeck, Jeffreys and McCormack have assisted Cole on her albums. As of April 2012 Cole lived in Copacabana. In July 2012 Cole revealed that she is a lesbian on ABC-TV series, Australian Story. In October 2013 she was the inaugural ambassador for the Adelaide-based Feast Festival and in the following month she presented her show, The Queer of Country. Cole explained to Suzie Keen of InDaily that "I was concerned that there may be a lack of understanding towards my sexuality. How wrong I was. What Australians appreciate more than anything is honesty".