New Zealand singer-songwriter Aly Cook is returning to the Kiwi Pro-Am National Country Music Awards in Hamilton on Saturday to present the Horizon Award winner with a Maton guitar.
Cook was the recipient of the Kiwi Pro-Am New Zealand Female Country Artist of the Year in 2012 and is endorsed by Maton Guitars in Australia.
"I have arranged the Maton sponsorship for this year's award winner, " says Cook.
While in Australia Cook also tutored at a song writing retreat at The Dag Sheep Station in Nundle NSW, where funding from APRA (NZ) was also secured.
"I have bought that to the Hamilton awards so one of the finalists of the Horizon Award will win five days at the song writing retreat next July with all airfares included courtesy of APRA." Cook says she enjoys helping and inspiring budding country artists to fuel and promote the genre.
"It is part of my ethos, " she says.
Cook has also been busy for the past year writing songs for her new album Horseshoe Radio Hotel, due for release in October. It is the follow-up to her critically acclaimed debut, Brand New Day in 2009.
Both albums were funded by the sellaband.com website.
"I believe the total from crowd-funding for both albums came to around $80,000.
"I have organically built this lovely fan base of people who have invested in me, so I have been very fortunate." While a resident of Nelson, Cook admits spending most of her performing and touring life in Australia.
"I have just returned from Australia where I have been performing in Sydney and have also been touring up in Kununurra in the Kimberleys region of Western Australia."
Cook says she flew in a helicopter over the Coburn Range in the Kimberleys for the filming of her new video Kimberley which is included on Horseshoe Radio Hotel.
Another song Western Mine reflects her time travelling on the Sydney train into the Blue Mountains.
"The Australian country music scene is very welcoming.
"There is a very big network of community stations playing country music and with all the festivals and concerts for country music, the support is massive.
"That's the thing about Australia, young New Zealand artists coming through including Kaylee Bell and Kylie Price are enjoying full-time careers over there, so I am not the only Kiwi constantly crossing the ditch."
Cook is delighted that Sony Music (NZ) have just released Godzone Country - The Very Best of Country Music a double CD set.
It features a host of New Zealand country artists from Tex Morton and Peter Posa to Cook and Kylie Price.
"I am not only buzzed for myself, but for the New Zealand country music genre.
"It is such a big deal for a multi-national company to pay attention to country music in New Zealand."
Cook says she cannot wait for the release of Horseshoe Radio Hotel."It is produced by Alan Jansson (How Bizarre) and features backing vocals from Graham Brazier (Hello Sailor) and Brendan Dugan.
"It's a very up album and has that rocky Sheryl Crowish-feel about it."
Kiwi Pro-Am 2014 National Country Music Awards, Founders Theatre, Hamilton, Saturday August 16
- Hamilton Press