Singer holds the high note

03:00, Jan 22 2013
Vicki Downes
Winning weekend: Blenheim singer Vicki Downes with her awards from the Gourmet Paradise Country Music Awards during the weekend, including the overall winner's trophy

It's been 26 years since Vicki Downes won the Gold Guitar award in Gore, but her return to competition at the weekend showed she has not lost her touch. It also helped realise a family dream.

Mrs Downes was the overall winner at the Gourmet Paradise Country Music Awards in Blenheim on Sunday. She also won the female open and country rock sections and was part of the groups that won the duo and group sections.

But she said she nearly did not enter the awards at all. Mrs Downes stopped competing in country music awards after winning the Gore Gold Guitar awards, New Zealand's most prestigious amateur country music award.

It was only her parents' dream of seeing her and her three sisters sing together that convinced her to enter the Blenheim awards this year.

"It's always been my parents' dream to have the four of us girls sing together and we never ever have, so we thought we'd enter as a group."

Having decided to enter in the group, she then agreed with one of her sisters to enter the duo section as well, and she eventually decided to enter as a solo performer too.


The sisters had intended the performance to be a surprise for their parents, but the secret was out when their father, John Galloway, became convenor for the awards. Practice also became difficult when one of the sisters moved to Timaru.

But winning the group section in front of their parents and families was the highlight of her weekend, she said.

"The other girls aren't singers as such. They were reluctant competitors, but I think they were quite proud of themselves that they did it. The whole reason for doing it was to do the group thing, and to come out and win the group was even better. It's been better than we expected."

After winning the Gold Guitar, Mrs Downes spent four years as the opening act for international musicians, including American soul group The Drifters, before moving to Blenheim. She has continued to sing in bands and in clubs through the years. Getting back into competing though was nerve racking, she said, and she had no plans to compete again. She would perform though as a guest star at next year's Marlborough awards, and she might not be the last of the Downes singing at the awards. "It's encouraged my [two] boys to maybe do something next year," she said.


The Marlborough Express