A singer who refused to sign a New Zealand's Got Talent contract has taken out the top prize at the Australasian country music awards.
Kylie Price, already being dubbed in Australia the "Kiwi Kylie", won a raft of accolades at the prestigious Tamworth Country Music Awards.
The 19-year-old singer-songwriter returned home to Dunedin yesterday with her awards for the Overall Talent Quest winner, Overall Senior winner, and winner of the senior female vocal section of the Capital Country Music Association talent quest. She also won the Tamworth Songwriter's Association award for best performance of an Australasian composition.
"I'm rapt, absolutely chuffed," she said,
"It's all good exposure, and it's great experience for me. Things are coming together nicely."
Price last year also claimed the overall prize at the Golden Guitar Country Music Awards in Gore.
"It really all started from there," she said.
"That was such a wonderful result, and I'm just so happy that these awards and all the people involved are just encouraging me to keep going."
New Zealand country music legend Gray Bartlett is acting as a mentor to the young star.
He said the win needed to be placed in context.
"It is huge. She competed against the best in Australia and beat them all, and that has worldwide credibility," he said.
Bartlett said Price's talent had no bounds.
He said that on a recent visit to Los Angeles, he played a demo of Price's work to Hollywood promoter Merv Goldstein, whose clients have included Tom Jones, Judy Garland and Frank Sinatra.
"He thought she was absolutely brilliant," Bartlett said.
"Unfortunately, too often not enough credit is given to artists in this country who achieve great things, and that's why so many base themselves overseas.
"It's important that everyone know just how talented this young girl is."
For now, Price is the opening act for touring English pop group The Hollies, for three shows beginning Friday.
"It's all been very humbling and I've always wanted to open for a big act," she said.
"The exposure you get on something like that is huge and there is just so much that can be learnt from a band like The Hollies."
Bartlett said Price's decision to refuse to sign the New Zealand's Got Talent contract, which would have forbidden her from entering the Tamworth awards and opening for The Hollies, was obviously a "very good one".