Shirley Thomas

b. 12 January 1925, Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia, d. 1 July 1999, Summerland Point, Lake Macquarie, New South Wales, Australia. Thoms grew up on a farm and by her early teens, she was singing and…
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Artist Biography

b. 12 January 1925, Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia, d. 1 July 1999, Summerland Point, Lake Macquarie, New South Wales, Australia. Thoms grew up on a farm and by her early teens, she was singing and yodelling the songs of Buddy Williams and Tex Morton that she heard on the radio. In 1940, she won a radio talent competition with her version of Harry Torrani’s ‘Mocking Bird Yodel’. This success led to her first six recordings for Regal Zonophone, made in Sydney on 27 May 1941. She wrote her own material and the songs included ‘Where The Golden Wattle Blooms’. They soon proved popular and six more recordings quickly followed, including her version of ‘Mother’s Old Red Shawl’. She toured with various shows, including Sole Bros Circus, and during World War II, she was also very popular as a member of an army entertainment unit. Between 1942 and 1946, she recorded 20 more sides, including her weepy ‘The Faithful Old Dog’ for the same label.

She married John Sole in 1950 and nominally retired, although she recorded six sides for the Rodeo label in 1952. Her son Peter was born in 1956 but in 1958 her husband died. She later married a veterinary surgeon and although the marriage failed, she developed an interest in veterinary science. She also wrote on philosophy and designed and built herself a palatial home in Sydney.

In 1970, she was persuaded to appear at the Tamworth Festival. She also returned to the recording studios, this time for Hadley, where she quickly proved that her voice had lost none of its appeal, nor had she lost her ability to yodel with the best (her Austrian-born grandfather had always stoutly maintained her ability to yodel was hereditary). Although her recorded output was not large, she had the unique distinction of being the first female Australian country singer to make solo recordings, as well as being the first Queenslander to make a record. She sang with a plaintiveness similar to Kitty Wells and her original 78 recordings are still highly sought after by collectors. However, during the 70s, all her original Regal Zonophone recordings were reissued (in recording order) on three albums. In 1980, she became the fifth artist but the first female performer to be elected to the Australasian Country Music Roll of Renown.