Kaylee Bell: Our best country musician
The South is the place to be if you're a country music fan.
At the New Zealand Country Music Awards in Gore on Friday night, Heart First by Kaylee Bell, was revealed as the nation’s Best Country Music Album for 2014 while Tami Neilson and Lyttelton-based Delaney Davidson’s Whiskey & Kisses won the gong for Best Country Music Song.
Bell is no stranger to awards. Last year she won Best Female Artist at the National Country Music Awards in Hamilton and later became the first Kiwi since Keith Urban (1990) to win Australia’s Toyota Star Maker title.
The 25-year-old rising star, a former employee of The Press, is originally from Waimate, and is now based in Australia.
Recorded Music NZ CEO Damian Vaughan described Bell as one of the most promising young New Zealand artists.
"With earnest lyrics and uplifting performances, Heart First is an outstanding example of the exceptional country music produced in New Zealand,'' he said.
Tami Neilson and Delaney Davidson are no strangers to the country music scene. Neilson’s past three recordings have all taken home Tuis for Best Country Music Album and Davidson won the award last year with Marlon Williams.
For Davidson, it's the third time he has won the APRA award for Best Country Music Song. The pair collaborated to make Whiskey & Kisses on Neilson’s latest album Dynamite! The song is a duet featuring the vocals of Neilson and Ben Woolley.
Anthony Healey, APRA AMCOS Director of New Zealand Operations, believes Whiskey & Kisses encapsulates the country music genre.
"Tami and Delaney have written a country song that will be remembered for many years. It is emotional and honest and it has proved to be the best country song of the year.''
The New Zealand Country Music Awards are hosted in Gore as a part of a week-long celebration of country music. It attracts more than 5000 fans annually. The other finalists for Best Country Music Album were Marian
Burns for The Paris Sessions and Anna van Riel for Whistle and Hum. Burns was also a finalist for Best Country Music Song with Finger in Too Many Pies. Neilson claimed the other finalist spot in this category with her solo effort, Texas.