#covidcoverschallenge leads to new version of True Blue and music video in Parkes

What do you have when four tour mates come together to sing on social media when the world is in lockdown during a coronavirus pandemic?

A reimagined version of one of Australia's most iconic songs and a video clip featuring many of Parkes' important citizens, that's what.

The enforced shutdown of COVID-19 has been a challenging time for all Australians.

On the back of drought, bushfires and floods, it was not what anyone was expecting nor hoping for in 2020.

But, like in many other cases, something great has emerged from the darkness.

On April 23 Dianna Corcoran, who happened to be back in Parkes at the time, teamed up with her former tour mates in the Chic Frontier Tour and fellow Golden Guitar winning stars - Kirsty Lee Akers from Newcastle, Amber Lawrence of Newcastle and Aleyce Simmonds from Tamworth - to cover John Williamson's legendary track True Blue.

"There was a hashtag challenge, #covidcoverschallenge, going around Facebook for musicians to do covers of their favorite songs. Amber, Aleyce, Kirsty and I had toured together many years ago and always stayed close friends," Dianna said.

"Amber suggested we get together to do our part of the challenge together.

"We decided we wanted it to be Australian and something patriotic and uplifting. True Blue was an obvious choice."

The song was also sang in honour of frontline workers across Australia and abroad.

After streaming the version on Facebook and tens of thousands of views in just a few hours, Dianna said fans sent them endless requests to commercially release a copy to purchase.

"So even though we were in lockdown in different locations around NSW, we decided to find a way to make it happen," she said.

Their recorded version was released on July 3, as was a music clip that was largely filmed in Parkes and produced by Dianna and Jesse Anderson at Klik Productions.

It's Dianna's first commercial release in five years and she said it "only took some crazy chicks and a thing called coronavirus to convince me to do it".

"We are so proud to officially release our version of True Blue. We hope you feel the same pride as we did in making and releasing our version of the beautiful John Williamson song," Dianna wrote on her Facebook page.

And on hearing the version, John Williamson commented, "What a nice surprise. Who would have thought that True Blue could sound so sweet!"

Within 24 hours the song hit number one on iTunes.

"It was a wonderful feeling, made more wonderful by sharing the success with friends," Dianna said.

"Most of my musical career these days is spent in America writing and producing for movies and TV shows, so having my face on something again has been nice, but I'll admit that it probably wouldn't have happened if I wasn't able to do it with some buddies."

How it all came together is quite incredible too, with Dianna having to use a closet for recording.

"I did record my vocals in a closet, with a blanket over my head," she said.

"We knew it would be tough putting it together while not being able to come together, but it's part of the Aussie culture to make it work. So we did.

"I was in Parkes, Aleyce was in Tamworth, Amber was in Sydney and Kirsty was in Wangi Wangi near Newcastle.

"The other girls all had access to studios close by but I was more remote and opted to order a microphone which I had to drive to Dubbo to collect, and record my vocals in the closet of my brother's house in Parkes.

"The girls sent their vocal tracks to me, we got our buddies to do some guitar and violin tracks and I put it all together on my laptop in Flinders Street.

"We love the organic result and the video was no different. The girls had access to local videographers, one being Kirsty's husband, Jesse. So they were able to get some great footage for the video.

"Luckily I had my camera with me. I threw some make-up on, purchased a denim jacket and white t-shirt from Target, then drove out the Condo Road and filmed myself, [using aluminium foil on a clothes horse for a light reflector].

"It was not easy, but I'm shocked it came up as well as it did."

Dianna, who has since returned to her husband and work commitments in Nashville, initially decided to cancel her return-flight to the USA and spend the extra time in Parkes when the pandemic hit hard.

With Dianna being where she was, she was able to put the town and its citizens in the spotlight.

"Since I had my camera with me and was in a location that was a little less locked-down than the girls, I took it upon myself to run around the Parkes and Peak Hill area capturing the many faces and characters of the Australian community," she said.

"The support and willingness I received was fantastic and I'm so thankful I was able to feature my hometown so greatly in what has turned out to be an amazing and heartfelt project."

Dianna said the response to the song has been amazing.

"We've had hundreds of thousands of views on the video and people have been sharing it world-wide. I think it's what people needed," she said.

"It's what we needed. Something patriotic. Something to remind us that we are stronger than what we are going through and Australia is the best place in the world to be in during times like this, and any time for that matter."

The True Blue video stars the following people, groups and businesses from Parkes: Indigenous woman - Joyce Lovett-Rooks (formerly of Parkes, now of Orange); Parkes Fire & Rescue NSW - Viviana Conca and Thomas Ringk; Parkes Police - Martin Ling, Kelvin Jubb, Wally Biles, Sandra Barton and Michael Whiting; Parkes Coachman Hotel Motel - Sarah Corcoran, Tony Todd and Yuamma Gautam; Peak Hill Health workers - Louise O'Leary, Charlie Wilkie, Pam Keed, Ashleigh Fry, Craig Davies, Donna Brown, Antti Kivimaki, Christine Pugh and Josie Angove; farmer Craig Tanswell and his kelpie Jack.