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Nelson’s Peasants win Smokefreerockquest 2011

Nelson band The Peasants are set for Kiwi music success as the winners of this year’s Smokefreerockquest.

The six top bands played off in Hamilton on Saturday for the country’s biggest youth music prize after being selected from 800 entrants at regional finals held around the country earlier in the year.

Last year’s second place-getters, known then as The Peasants of Eden, had developed their performance and wowed the judges with their tight and mature sound. The Peasants’ band members are Georgia Nott (vocals and percussion), Abbey Phillips (vocals and keyboard), Chris Phillips (drums), Joseph Corban-Banks (bass), Rupert Wockner (rhythm guitar), Holly Tippler (vocals and keyboard) and Clark Hinton (guitar).

The judging panel, made up of Matt Barthow from TV channel Four, Tania Dean from NZ on Air, Joel Little from Dryden Street (and Kids of 88 co-writer), Sam Collins from Kiwi FM, Sharyn Wakefield from The Edge, and OpShop’s Bobby Kennedy, said The Peasants had a presence far beyond their years. Lead singer Georgia Knott was singled out for particular praise.

“Her voice is totally different from any other New Zealand singer,” said NZ on Air Repertoire Executive Tania Dean. “It is powerful, emotional and dynamic – she actually left me speechless.”

Georgia Knott said the band was on a huge high of self-esteem after their win, having done ‘heaps of practice’ to perfect their act. She has been singing ever since she can remember, and says her family predicted she would be a star when she sang at her grandfather’s birthday at the age of nine. Georgia has another year at school and then is going on to study composition at university. Three other band members will be going back to school and three are leaving at the end of the year, but The Peasants intend continuing to play together.

The prize package will give The Peasants a big helping hand into the Kiwi music industry. It includes an NZ on Air new recording and music video grant worth $10,000, a place on the NZ On Air Kiwi Hit Disc, musical gear to the value of $10,000 from NZ Rockshops, and recording time and radio promotional support for a single.

Second place went to singer/songwriter Massad from Sacred Heart College in Auckland, and third place went to Attic Sky’s from Whakatane High School whose members are Riley Brightwell (bass player and vocalist), Miles Sutton (guitar) and Ollie Butler (drums).

Four other awards were given out on the night: Alice Alsweiler, guitarist from Fuzz and the Sly Tones from James Hargest High School in Invercargill, won the MAINZ Scholarship for outstanding musicianship; the APRA Lyric Writers Award went to Hanna Olsen from Otamatea High School in Northland; The Velvet Regime took the Lowdown Best Song Award and the Smokefree Women’s Musicianship Award was won by Eden Roberts from Western Springs High School In Auckland.


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