Recorded Music NZ and APRA are proud to recognise the outstanding contributions to New Zealand’s country music scene from the past year.
The finalists for Recorded Music NZ Te Kaipuoro Tuawhenua Toa | Best Country Music Artist are Delaney Davidson and Barry Saunders, Katie Thompson and Kendall Elise, while the finalists for APRA Best Country Music Song are Any Fool With A Heart and Hey Bus Driver, both by Tami Neilson, That Summer by Kaylee Bell and West Coast by Katie Thompson.
The winners will be announced live on Radio New Zealand’s Music 101 on Saturday 30 May.
For Delaney Davidson, it all started when he met Barry Saunders at church. They were sound checking for the Churches Tour with Marlon Williams and Tami Neilson - Barry playing old gospel songs and Delaney chugging out his signature blues trance thump.
Since then, the two collaborated on the album Word Gets Around, which was released in April 2019. A nationwide tour followed the release, and they now are up for the 2020 Recorded Music NZ Best Country Artist award.
For her third studio album Bittersweet, the talented Katie Thompson worked alongside award-winning producer Ben Edwards at The Sitting Room studio in Lyttelton to create an unpretentious, confidently personal release.
This winning combination resulted in the record peaking at #7 on the Top 20 NZ Albums chart with an album drawing from classic country music in the choice of instruments, the range of tempos and moods, and the lyrical honesty of life’s mixed emotions laid bare. This can be seen on the track West Coast, which is also nominated for the APRA Best Country Music Song this year.
In 2016, Kendall Elise launched her solo career with the debut single Heart Full of Dirt, which paved the way for the Kiwi singer-songwriter’s self-produced debut EP I Didn’t Stand A Chance, released in March 2017. This first release saw her selected as a finalist for the APRA Best Country Music Song in 2017.
After recording at Neil Finn’s famed Roundhead Studios, Kendall released her Kickstarter funded debut album Red Earth in May 2019. A deeply introspective album of intricate storytelling brought to life with evocative instrumentation; meaningful lyricism and a golden voice.
Alongside Katie Thompson, Tami Neilson and Kaylee Bell are finalists for the APRA Best Country Music Song this year.
No stranger to the Country Music Awards, Tami has been nominated for two songs – Any Fool With A Heart and Hey Bus Driver– both from her 2020 album CHICKABOOM!
Tami has previously won Best Country Album four times (2009, 2010, 2012, and 2015) at the New Zealand Music Awards, and Best Female Artist at the New Zealand Country Music Awards in 2010, 2011 and 2014.
And Kaylee has had a whirlwind year as the first Australasian artist to play C2C (Country to Country) London in 2019 after being handpicked for Key West Songwriters USA and C2C Australia. Her song That Summer is the fourth finalist for the APRA Best Country Song award this year.
Recorded Music CEO Damian Vaughan says despite the unprecedented circumstances we find ourselves in, celebrating the achievements of our artists is essential.
“It’s important we recognise the calibre of our talented musicians, especially with the wealth of exceptional country music which was released over the last year,” says Vaughan.
“Congratulations to this year’s finalists and while we might not be able to gather in person, you should feel proud of your achievements. I look forward to hearing the songs created after this challenging period.”
APRA Head of NZ Operations Anthony Healey adds: "Kaylee, Tami and Katie are writing great songs, playing electrifying shows and making real waves at home and around the world. Each of these amazing songwriters are absolutely at the top of their craft and it's so exciting to honour and celebrate them here in New Zealand."
Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, the Top Paddock Festival and the MLT Songwriting Award which usually take place in Gore, have been cancelled for 2020. However we look forward to seeing their return in 2021.
Finalists for Recorded Music NZ Te Kaipuoro Tuawhenua Toa | Best Country Music Artist
- Delaney Davidson & Barry Saunders – Word Gets Around
- Katie Thompson – Bittersweet
- Kendall Elise – Red Earth
Finalists for APRA Best Country Music Song
- Tami Neilson – ‘Any Fool With A Heart’
- Tami Neilson – ‘Hey Bus Driver’
- Kaylee Bell – ‘That Summer’
- Katie Thompson – ‘West Coast’