A country singer and a bear
Wanaka singer star Jody Direen has signed an exclusive deal with United States management company Bear Grylls Ventures after a chance meeting with the television star earlier this year.
After deciding about two years ago that she would not do any more pub gigs, she was persuaded by a friend to give a St Patricks Day performance at Wanaka's Lone Star, in March.
Bear Grylls and his team were in town filming Get Out Alive at the time but rain had delayed work on that particular day so they instead had a meal at the Lone Star.
''They approached me afterwards - they just looked like tourists to me,'' Direen said.
''They said some really great things and they really loved what I was doing.''
She already had plans to fly to Nashville in June to perform at the Global Artists Awards as part of her prize for winning the Horizon Award for upcoming stars at the National Country Music Awards last year.
Bear Grylls Ventures asked her to stop in Los Angeles on the way where they meet her at the airport with a ''flash Mercedes with tinted windows''.
During the next two days she met with talent management company 19 Entertainment, which started American Idol and manage Jennifer Lopez and performed for the manager of Carrie Underwood, possibly the world's most popular country music performer.
They also organised for her to hang out with Underwood in Nashville and meet 20-time Grammy award winner Vince Gill.
''Then they said they wanted to manage me on an international level. I think I jumped about 10 feet in the air in excitement. Since then it's been a bit of a whirlwind,'' 24-year-old Direen said.
She is now the only personality signed by the company beside Bear Grylls and will release her new single Loud on September 23 and a Nashville-recorded album at the end of the year.
Today is Direen's public launch under her new management company and the previously self-managed writer and performer now has a New Zealand-based manager.
She is excited about the possibilities inherent in the relationship with Bear Grylls Ventures which were acting as a recording company as well as international managers.
''The really want to see me go places and they're passionate about my career. I'm very humbled that a big company like that in America have taken to me.
''You can't get exposure on an international level without some sort of second party being involved in your career.''
She hopes her growing profile will help push the country-rock-pop genre in New Zealand, as it didn't have the exposure here it had in other countries.
''Country music actually sells the most concert tickets of any genre in the world.''
Direen performs this weekend at the national Country Music Awards in Hamilton and has more confirmed gigs in New Zealand, Australia and possibly in the United States but details remain under wraps.
The Southland Times