Tamworth Star Maker a regular at Gold Guitars
Waimate songstress Kaylee Bell was a regular at the New Zealand Gold Guitar Awards in Gore for 12 years before her overall win at age 18 - and now she is one step closer to living out what she describes as her ultimate dream.
Bell, 23, was crowned the 2013 Toyota Star Maker at the Tamworth Country Music Festival last week, a competition that has sparked the careers of some of the biggest names in country music.
While the prize package includes a new Toyota vehicle with an unlimited fuel card for 12 months, a recording deal and a trip to Nashville in June, Bell said the biggest high was that Keith Urban also nailed the Star Maker on his way to becoming a country superstar.
Writing and singing a duet with Urban would be a career fantasy, Bell said.
Bell has been singing country music since age 4 and performed at the New Zealand Gold Guitar Awards from a young age, but made the move to Bathurst five years ago for more opportunities.
Her rise in success has not come without sacrifice.
While holding down jobs as a copy co-ordinator, a waitress and is a regular performer at a Bathurst venue three nights a week, Bell has continued to write and travel to festivals around Australia and was a grand finalist at the Star Maker in 2011 and 2012 before her win.
A piece of advice she would offer to other musicians is that Australia is a big country, but the music scene is small. "You work hard, but you make sure you're nice to everyone - you never know when you're going to meet them again."
- The Southland Times