Tabulam takes centre stage

THE London Palladium, Carnegie Hall and the Sydney Opera House are just some of the impressive venues where singing legend Kamahl has performed.

After tomorrow, he will be able to add the Tabulam Racecourse to the list when he visits the town as its Australia Day ambassador.

“Over the moon,” is how West of the Range Australia Day Organising Committee president Neville O’Malley described his response to the news the town had snaffled the singer, who has also performed for Queen Elizabeth II, for its Australia Day celebrations.

“We have had other ambassadors and nobody knew who they were,” Mr O’Malley said.

“Everybody knows Kamahl.”

The organising committee, which only got the good news on Friday night, expects the singer will double the number of people in attendance at this year’s celebration.

As news of Kamahl’s visit spreads throughout the district, there is talk some Casino and Kyogle residents plan on gate-crashing the celebrations.

Long-time Kamahl fan Yvonne Gay, of Mallanganee, will be sharing the stage with her idol to perform a duet of Advance Australia Fair.

Mrs Gay, an experienced church singer, has performed the national anthem at the Australia Day celebrations every year since 1998. However, the thought of singing it this year with Kamahl makes her go ‘weak at the knees,’ she said.

In order to cope, Mrs Gay has devised a strategy. During the performance she will pretend Kamahl is not there.

Mrs Gay said his visit would be the best thing that has ever happened in Tabulam.

“We don’t have to advertise, everybody is talking about it,” Mrs Gay said.

“Can you imagine Kamahl walking around Tabulam race track?”

It is expected Kamahl will also perform some of his own songs and the Peter Allen hit I Still Call Australia Home.

“He asked about the PA,” Mr O’Malley said.

“He wanted to know if there were any songs we usually sang.”

Mrs Gay said she didn’t want Kamahl to feel pressured into performing for the crowd.

“We have had boxers as the Australia Day ambassadors and swimmers, and we didn’t ask them to box or swim for us,” Mrs Gay said.

“If he wants to sing, he can sing.”

The celebrations at Tabulam kick off at 10.30am with sumo wrestling.

A tug-of-war with $200 prizemoney will start at 11am and will be followed by a ‘tossing the bull competition,’ an event which involves throwing sacks of cow manure.

First prize is $60.

The grand parade, down the straight of the Tabulam Racecourse, will start at midday and will be led by the Kyogle Town Band.

The official ceremony, where Kamahl is expected to make a speech, will start at 1pm.

Kyogle-Woodenbong ambassador will be Krystel Keller, a 22-year-old blind singer-songwriter. Richmond Valley Council’s ambassador is Libby Hathorn, a children’s book author. Byron Bay has Ann Snell, an indigenous art gallery owner. Lismore has Craig Foster, a former Socceroos captain and Ballina’s ambassador is Shane Gould, one of Australia’s greatest swimmers.

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