Awards a feast for country music fans
From Johnny Cash to Carrie Underwood, there was a wide offering of country music for an audience of thousands last night and Saturday night at the 2012 New Zealand Gold Guitar Awards.
The overall winner of the senior New Zealand Gold Guitar title was Kylie Price, of Dunedin, with Nelson band State Highway One named as runner-up.
Performers from the south were joined in Gore by talent from throughout New Zealand for both evenings, as cowboy boots and Stetson hats were dusted off for the 39th year.
Lynda Topp of the Topp Twins wished performers the best backstage at the junior and intermediate finals on Saturday night, as young people took to the stage with guitars, banjos and harmonicas.
The 700-plus entrants had an enthusiastic crowd of country music fans to play to on both final evenings as the overall winners were announced.
The Junior New Zealand Gold Guitar Overall Winners were Jemma and Jade Gibson – The Two J's – from Murchison.
The pair were taken to awards shows by their nana from a young age, which, they said, had fed their passion.
With musical heroes including Taylor Swift, Casey Chambers and The Dixie Chicks, the girls said they hoped to one day follow in their idols' footsteps.
Winning the junior competition was "awesome", Jemma said.
Intermediate winner Hannah Cosgrove was equally thrilled with her win.
Travelling from Hamilton for the competition, the 17-year-old said she was "in shock" after her name was announced.
"I'm very surprised right now," she said as she held up her award.
She won the Awards' junior category in 2005.
Winning the intermediate section was the pinnacle of her career so far, she said.
The five-day event has long been a popular part of the Gore calendar and attracted a record number of entries this year.
Media liaison Shona Hewlett said they had thought last year's record of 650 competitive entries would be hard to beat, but there were 710 entries this year – by far the highest number in the competition's 39-year history.
The 1500-seat auditorium was sold out both on Saturday and last night, with thousands heading to Gore for the event, including some in motorhomes, from all over the country.
Ms Hewlett said each competitor had a support crew, with a team of 20 in town from Nelson to support junior winners Jemma and Jade Gibson, and another large support crew coming from Wellington.
As the event grew it became more prestigious, Ms Hewlett said.
The main prize gave the winner the opportunity to perform in Australia, and the competition provided a platform for the winner to start their music career.
The Southland Times