Singer's life 'surreal'
Rising country star Jody Direen has just returned from the United States after playing the Global Artist Showcase in Nashville - and she did not come back empty-handed.
While there, the singer/songwriter inked a management deal with BGV - the same company that represents internationally renowned television star and adventurer Bear Grylls.
The former Rakaia resident and Wanaka native has performed nationwide and in Australia.
She won the Nashville opportunity as part of the Horizon Award at the 2012 National Country Music Awards.
Jody described the trip and subsequent management deal as a turning point in her career.
"Having a management company like BGV behind me opens so many doors. Most of all, they believe in me 100 per cent and nothing is ever stagnant.
"Even though I have only been working with them for a short time, we have achieved a lot. I have already started working on some new material in the studio in Nashville, and there are solid plans in place, " she said.
"Without going into too much detail, they have the power and ability to take me to where I have always wanted to go. It's still going to be a lot of hard work, of course, but I am up for the challenge. After managing myself for five or so years, it is a surreal - but great - feeling, having this group of people in my life."
Jody released her first album, Here We Go, in 2011 and said she hopes to release some new material by the end of this year.
While details of who she is working with are still under wraps, she said her set at the showcase consisted entirely of new material, which received a great response.
"I was really happy with how it all went. Even just experiencing Nashville alone, you feel that much closer to the music. Everyone there can sing, everyone can write, everyone is so talented. So it really pushes you to be the best you can be."
She also met former American Idol winner and Grammy Award-winning country artist Carrie Underwood, who was performing at the Grand Ole Opry, as well as Vince Gill.
"My admiration for creating music has increased immensely after being in Nashville.
"Some of the situations I found myself in, such as meeting Carrie, make the dream more real and almost more achievable, when you get to witness someone up close who is living it.
"My journey thus far has been a whirlwind of emotions . . . this is the nature of this career pathway and I wouldn't change a thing about it."
For more about Jody Direen, visit her at facebook.com/jodydireen