Born and raised on a cattle station in Queensland’s Gulf of Carpentaria, Kalesti Butler’s most vivid memories are of the downtime when she would listen to and perform country music with her family. These life-long experiences is where Kalesti draws from to create her brand of country music.


While most will know the 2011 CMAA Academy Of Country Music graduate for her bush ballads and traditional sound, over recent years Kalesti has wanted to explore the wider musical genre. When asked about her upcoming release, Kalesti says, “I love a challenge and achieving my dreams, I will be stepping out of my comfort zone. I’ll be flying.”


Working with Robert Mackay from Pacific International Music on her upcoming album, has only reinforced Kalesti’s decision to add to her musical range. Kalesti has fellow artist Michael Bryers to thank for suggesting recording at the award-winning studio during a discussion at the 2015 Mildura Country Music Festival.


After only the first meeting between artist and producer, Kalesti was thrilled to learn they had similar views about the industry, song choice, the direction and the kind of album she wanted to create. They quickly got to work on what would become her 2nd album “Airborne”, due for release at the 2017 Tamworth Country Music Festival.


“Airborne” introduces eleven tracks – Kalesti has written the majority with help from her mum Val, Roger Corbett, Kathy Dobson, Anita Ree, Felicity Urquhart and the remainder balanced out by Bob Wilson, Rain Perry, Lola Brinton, Kevin Bennett and Luke O’Shea.


The 2014 Top Ten Toyota Star Maker finalist admits she finds lyrical inspiration in almost anything. Album track, ‘Pump’ was written by Kalesti and mum Val during lunch whilst at the Mildura Country Musical Festival in 2012. Mum and daughter were discussing song titles, concepts and ideas as they regularly do, when Kalesti spotted an old fuel bowser. The title was born and the ladies created a heroine jillaroo whose job it is to check the water pumps around the property. The song sings about the funny things that play on her mind that she may or may not see.


Kalesti attended the 2015 DAG Sheep Station Singers Songwriters Retreat where she wrote ‘Ride Cowboy’ with Felicity Urquhart. This track was inspired by her dad who had cancer and was quite ill at the time. Sadly he passed away while Kalesti was on her way to the 2016 Tamworth Country Music Festival. Speaking on the phone when Kalesti was at a half-way pit stop, she had no idea “have fun in Tamworth” would be some of his final words.


You’re Not The One’ is another album track written at the Songwriters Retreat. Roger Corbett and Kathy Dobson lend their songwriting skills to this searching-for-love tune. Having recently gone through a separation from an eight year relationship, Kalesti was testing the waters and starting to go on dates in the hope of meeting that someone special.


‘Fly High’ – another collaboration by Kalesti and her mum Val, is a tribute to her uncle Eddie (Val’s brother) and her cousin Sandy. Father and son were working up in the Gulf maintaining roads and machinery that is used to fix the roads. Eddie would fly himself and his son in and out of the Gulf, as air travel is more efficient due to the distance to these remote areas. During a routine inspection trip in September 2013, Eddie and Sandy were killed when their plane crashed on take-off.


‘Airborne’ one of the tracks that Kalesti didn’t have a hand in writing, is from the pen of American folk-rock singer songwriter Rain Perry. After listening to the song on the advice of her producer, Kalesti was in tears. An instant connection to the lyrics, knowing she would enjoy singing the song and making it her own, ensured it was included on the track listing.


Kalesti has been working on the land and singing about it for as long as she can remember. At just three years of age, she made her stage debut at the Charters Towers Country Music Festival and by nine she was crowned the Queensland Champion of Champions.


Accolades have since presented themselves many times over including the 2011 Australian Bush Balladeer Star Quest in Tamworth, 2011 New Talent trophy at the Gidgee Coal Bush Ballad Awards in Pittsworth QLD, 2012 New Talent at the Stan Coster Memorial Australian Bush Ballad Awards at the Bungendore Country Music Muster and winning the 2013 APRA Tamworth Songwriters Association New Songwriter Award.


While working on the land is something Kalesti loves and will always enjoy, performing live will be her first choice every time. She has been honoured to grace the stages of the Tamworth Country Music Festival, Gympie Music Muster, Adelaide Country Music Club, Nanango Muster, Mildura Country Music Festival, Camooweal Festival and the Slim Dusty Country Music Memories Week in Kempsey NSW.


When asked about her musical influences, Kalesti lists some of country music’s legends including Slim Dusty, Sara Storer, Tom T Hall, Charlie Pride, Dolly Parton, Patsy Cline, Marty Stuart, George Jones, Terri Clark, and Graeme Connors. A little closer to home, Kalesti also cites her mum Val Butler, her Uncle Eddie and her Grandparent’s Cecie and Patsy, as musical inspirations.


“Airborne” will be launched during the 2017 Tamworth Country Music Festival at the South Tamworth Bowling Club Outback Stage, 10am – FREE SHOW.

Press & Awards

  • 2014 Top 10 Toyota Star Maker Finalist
  • 2013 APRA TSA New Song Writer Award
  • 2012 Most Popular Bush Balladeer Tamworth People’s Choice Award
  • 2012 New Talent Stan Coster Memorial Australian Bush Ballad Award Bungendore
  • 2011 Graduate CMAA Academy of Country Music
  • 2011 Australian Bush Balladeer Star Quest Tamworth
  • 2011 New Talent Gidgee Coal Bush Ballad Award Pittsworth