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Shirley Thoms

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Shirley Thoms
A bronze statue bus tof Shirley Thoms in Bicennery Park, Tamworth, New South Wales
A bronze statue bus tof Shirley Thoms in Bicennery Park, Tamworth, New South Wales
Background information
Birth nameShirley Thoms-Bystrynski
Also known asAustralia's Yodelling Sweetheart
Born12 January 1925
Toowoomba, Queensland
Died1 July 1999 (aged 74)
Summerland Point, Lake Macquarie, New South Wales
Occupation(s)Singer, songwriter

Shirley Thoms-Bystrynski (12 January 1925 – 1 July 1999), was an Australian country music singer and pioneer of Australia's country music industry. She was known as Australia's Yodelling Sweetheart.


Thoms was born in January 1925, in Toowoomba, Queensland and was raised in a family of seven children.[1]

She began her career singing and yodelling songs by Tex Morton and Harry Torrani, and won a Bundaberg talent quest with Torrani's Mockingbird Yodel. In 1941, aged 16, with what is now EMI Records she became the first female solo act to record country music in Australia, as well as the first Queenslander to be featured on disc.[2] This first batch of songs included ""Faithful Old Dog". She went on to tour Australia and New Zealand, entertaining the troops during World War II and writing songs. Thoms became known by the title of Australia's Yodelling Sweetheart.[1] She later toured with Sole Bros Circus and met her first husband John Sole. The couple had a son, Peter and Thoms stepped away from show business, however John Sole died prematurely. In 1970, Thoms came out of retirement to appear on the Captain Cook Bicentenary Show in the Tamworth Town Hall and briefly revived her career with album releases in 1970 and 1972.[3]

Her most popular and best selling recordings were "The Faithful Old Dog", "Where The Golden Wattle Blooms" and "Yodelling in the Moonlight".[4]

After suffering from Parkinson's disease and a heart condition, she died in 1999, at Summerland Point, Lake Macquarie, NSW, aged 74.[3]


There is a collection of bronze busts in Bicentennial Park, Tamworth that includes Shirley Thoms, Stan Coster, Tex Morton, Gordon Parsons, Barry Thornton and Buddy Williams.[5]

Honours and awards[edit]

Australian Roll of Renown[edit]

The Australian Roll of Renown honours Australian and New Zealander musicians who have shaped the music industry by making a significant and lasting contribution to Country Music. It was inaugurated in 1976 and the inductee is announced at the Country Music Awards of Australia in Tamworth in January.[6] Thoms was the fifth artist and first woman to receive this honour.

Year Nominee / work Award Result
1980 Shirley Thoms Australian Roll of Renown inductee


  1. ^ a b "Shirley Thoms | Monument Australia". monumentaustralia.org.au. Retrieved 23 May 2022.
  2. ^ Australian country music
  3. ^ a b "A Tribute to Tex Morton". Historyofcountrymusic.com.au. Retrieved 2 June 2016.
  4. ^ "The Australian Bush Balladeers Association". Bushballadeers.com.au. Retrieved 2 June 2016.
  5. ^ "Female pioneer honoured in bronze". Tamworth City News. Archived from the original on 26 March 2012. Retrieved 13 August 2011.
  6. ^ "Roll of Renown". Tamworth Country Music Festival. Retrieved 29 October 2020.