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NZ Country Music Awards finalists

Announcing Aotearoa’s acclaimed country musicians recognised as finalists

Winners to be announced at NZ Country Music Awards in Gore

The New Zealand Country Music Awards are New Zealand’s pre-eminent celebration of Country Music Artists in New Zealand and held each year in Gore, Southland, New Zealand. The Awards event is run by the New Zealand Songwriters Trust. The awards include:

• Recorded Music NZ Best Country Music Artist

• APRA Best Country Music Song

• MLT Songwriting Awards

This year’s finalists for the 2019 Recorded Music NZ Best Country Music Artist, APRA Best Country Music Song and the MLT Songwriting Awards are a master class of the genre, with the winners to be announced at the NZ Country Music Awards at the St James Theatre in Gore on Thursday 30 May 2019.

The finalists for Best Country Music Artist are Jenny Mitchell for her album Wildfires, Jamie McDell for her album Extraordinary Girl, and Tami Neilson for her sixth album Sassafrass!

The top country songs recognised by APRA this year are Holly Arrowsmith’s ‘Slow Train Creek’, ‘Paint On A Sign’ by Jamie McDell, and ‘Manitoba Sunrise at Motel 6’ by Tami Neilson.

There are 10 finalists in the MLT Songwriting Awards.

It’s gearing up to be a big year for Jenny Mitchell, who released her sophomore album Wildfires at the end of 2018. Not only is she nominated for the 2019 Recorded Music Best Country Music Artist Tui, but the 19-year-old Gore local is preparing for a New Zealand tour this year.

In the past 18 months, Jenny has toured through the southern coast of Sweden, dozens of cosy Irish pubs, Australian cities, and towns and throughout NZ. With recent festival appearances with Australian Golden Guitar Winners Brad Butcher, Felicity Urquhart and Luke O'Shea, this is just the beginning for the young artist.

Hailing from Auckland, Jamie McDell began her career at 16 by harnessing the power of the internet and using social media and YouTube to promote original and covers songs to Kiwis.

Fast forward to 2017, Jamie pursued her dream of recording in Nashville, Tennessee, and spent time writing and recording an album with Australian producer Nash Chambers.

The result was Extraordinary Girl, a robust third studio album which features a hearty cast of well-known country music musicians including Kasey Chambers and Tami Neilson.

Her song ‘Paint On A Sign’ is also nominated for the 2019 APRA Best Country Music Song, a sweeping song featuring Australian country music legend Bill Chambers.

Last year, Tami Neilson released her critically acclaimed sixth album Sassafrass! to rave reviews and a nomination for Album of the Year and Best Solo Artist at the 2018 Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards.

Her track ‘Manitoba Sunrise at Motel 6’ is also in the running for APRA Best Country Music Song this year – and for good reason.

Described as “a fire-breathing belter on her own terms” by Rolling Stone, Tami has had an exciting year with a rigorous touring schedule across North America, Europe and New Zealand - including recent sold out shows at both the Auckland Town Hall and the Wellington Opera House.

The third finalist for APRA’s Best Country Music Song is ‘Slow Train Creek’ by southerner Holly Arrowsmith, a track from her well-received album A Dawn I Remember, which earned 5-star reviews in the Sunday Star Times and Otago Daily Times and comparisons to Joni Mitchell.

Holly has previously won the Tui for Best Folk album in 2016 for her first album For The Weary Traveller, and was long-listed for the APRA Silver Scroll Award in 2018.

Recorded Music CEO Damian Vaughan says there’s a wealth of talent in New Zealand’s country music scene – evidenced by our artists’ success both at home and internationally.

“From industry veterans to new musicians just beginning their careers, there’s a wealth of amazing country music coming out at the moment - it’s an excellent time to be a country music fan in Aotearoa,” says Vaughan.

APRA Head of NZ Operations Anthony Healy adds: “The albums and songs released last year are brimming with heart and soul. Every single artist creating and sharing their music with us deserves to be celebrated.”

The MLT Songwriting Awards are judged by a panel of four accomplished music industry representatives with 10 songs chosen to be performed live at the Awards evening. The finalists this year are Kaylee Bell (‘Used to Getting Over You’), Tami Neilson (‘Used To Getting Over You’, ‘Queenie’), Kendall Elise (‘Slippery Creek’), Kerryn Fields (‘Mamma’, ‘Until You’), Jenny Mitchell (‘Lucy’, ‘Tug of War’), Olivia Sutherland (‘Don’t’), Miller Yule (‘Tangled Up’) and Ron Mitchell (‘I’ll Be Country’).

This year’s Country Music Award winners will be announced during the NZ Country Music Awards in Gore on Thursday 30 May. The awards are open to the public, and tickets are available through

Finalists for Recorded Music NZ Best Country Music Album
• Jamie McDell – Extraordinary Girl
• Jenny Mitchell – Wildfires
• Tami Neilson – Sassafrass!

Finalists for APRA Best Country Music Song
• Holly Arrowsmith – ‘Slow Train Creek’
• Jamie McDell – ‘Paint On A Sign’
• Tami Neilson – ‘Manitoba Sunrise at Motel 6’

Finalists for the MLT Songwriting Awards
Kaylee Bell (‘Used to Getting Over You’)
Tami Neilson (‘Used To Getting Over You’, ‘Queenie’)
Kendall Elise (‘Slippery Creek’)
Kerryn Fields (‘Mamma’, ‘Until You’)
Jenny Mitchell (‘Lucy’, ‘Tug of War’)
Olivia Sutherland (‘Don’t’)
Miller Yule (‘Tangled Up’)
Ron Mitchell (‘I’ll Be Country’).
• For more information on Jamie McDell visit
• For more information on Jenny Mitchell visit
• For more information on Tami Neilson visit
• For more information on Holly Arrowsmith visit
• For more information on Kaylee Bell visit
• For more information on Kandell Elise
• For more information on Kerryn Fields
• For more information on Miller Yule


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