Yee-ha - It's country music trophy time
A new generation of country music enthusiasts will be ramblin' their way to Hamilton tomorrow night for the ninth National Country Music Awards.
Twenty-two-year-old Kaylee Bell and 25-year-old Jody Direen are among the seven individuals and three groups up for gongs at the event.
"It's all about giving young emerging artists a platform to get their work seen," organiser Grace Martin said.
The awards showcase has been held in Hamilton since 2006, bringing country artists from around the country together to celebrate the successes of the genre.
Martin said the annual event drew a large crowd and this year around 800 were expected in attendance at the Founders Theatre.
The winner of each category will be awarded a trophy and the glory of being recognised as one of New Zealand's best country musicians.
She said the awards had grown in popularity largely because of the prizes offered to the overall winner.
The winner of this year's Horizon Award, of which there are three nominees including Dan Cosgrove from Hamilton, will receive a Maton guitar and trips to a singer songwriters' retreat in Australia and the Global Artist Showcase in Nashville.
"This is a very sought-after award, which gives them the opportunity to meet and work with overseas artists in the country music scene."
She said young people were breaking the stereotypes in country music and it was important to give them an opportunity to showcase their talent.
This year the main guest at the awards will be Australian singer songwriter Morgan Evans, who comes to Hamilton hot on the heels of a performance at the world's biggest country music festival and with two number one Australian singles under his belt.
Touted as "the new Keith Urban", Evans has performed with superstar Taylor Swift, is signed with talent agency William Morris Endeavor Entertainment, and recently released his debut album in NZ.
Also performing on the night are Cameron Scott, Kaylee Bell, Brendan and Pat Dugan, Lesley Nia Nia and the Howie Morrison Trio.
Country music singer Kylie Austin, a former Trans-Tasman Entertainer of the Year Award winner, will be MC.
Chelsea Armitage is a communications student at AUT.