Aug 2017 Starts at 60
Country star Troy Cassar-Daley is a self-confessed softy. He cries at sweet pictures of old married couples on social media, he sheds a tear when listening to a beautiful song, and, heck, he’s even been known to be moved by a softly hued sunset. But what has him crying this time is a documentary about a hearing-impaired couple and their children. The father in the documentary had been fitted with a cochlear implant and had just heard his daughter say “I love you” for the first time. “I looked at my daughter and said ‘can you imagine that?’,” he recalls. “My wife and I are real softies and stuff that like can really move us.” It was this film that prompted Cassar-Daley to work with Australian Hearing. He explains that as a musician, he had always been aware of how precious the sense of hearing is, but didn’t know how to get involved. He wrote the song I Can Hear You Now and played it to representatives of the organisation one afternoon. The result? “We all ended up bawling our eyes out!” he says.
Cassar-Daley has been the Australian Hearing ambassador for 3 years now and his work with the organisation has trickled through to his own career as a musician. “I had my hearing checked and realised that I had some long-term hearing damage from loud guitars, which comes with the territory,” he says. “I know now that I have to be careful of what I do. I use different equipment on stage now instead of blasting loud speakers.”
It’s a common issue for musicians and singers, with stars including Barbra Streisand and Eric Clapton suffering hearing loss from years of professional exposure to loud noise.
“Pete Townsend from The Who has bad tinnitus from running his amps at high levels and now he goes to sleep at night with a ringing in his ears,” Cassar-Daley says, adding that he’s also pushed his family members to get their hearing tested, too. These days, that family is more important than ever to the singer-songwriter. He talks openly about the struggles he’s had, admitting that last year was “a real low point” in his 21-year marriage to radio presenter Laurel Edwards.
As one of Australia’s most successful country singers, it’s not surprising Cassar-Daley is so willing to wear his heart on his sleeve – country music is home to the gut-wrenching ballad, after all – but over time he’s learned to channel that emotion into something positive, which is to give back where it means the most to him. A few years ago, he encouraged his father-in-law Ray, a former steel worker, to get a hearing check after noticing he was struggling to keep up with conversations, which resulted in Ray being fitted with a hearing aid. “To be able to hear your family talking to you across the table and fully join in the conversation again, he said he felt like he was a part of the world again,” Cassar-Daley says. “It’s life-changing on a lot of levels.”