Coun­try songstress to take the stage

Matamata Chronicle - - Your Paper, Your Place - REXINE HAWES

She may be a young girl but she has a big voice that’s tak­ing her places.

Matamata Coun­try Mu­sic Club mem­ber Ha­ley Cole, from Te Awa­mutu, has just been named one of the New Zealand en­trants in the En­ter­tainer of the Year com­pe­ti­tion, as part of the Nor­folk Is­land Coun­try Mu­sic Fes­ti­val.

Even more ex­cit­ing is that to date she is the youngest com­peti­tor to do so.

The an­nounce­ment con­cluded the evening at the af­fil­i­ated Waikato Coun­try Mu­sic Awards in Mor­rinsville, at which Ha­ley won in­ter­me­di­ate over­all (ages 13-18-years).

While the 15-year-old says she never imag­ined she would reach this pin­na­cle so soon, it’s cer­tainly some­thing she has been work­ing to­wards and the re­al­ity has fi­nally sunk in.

‘‘It was be­tween my­self, who was in­ter­me­di­ate over­all and the se­nior over­all win­ner. I would never have dreamed of be­ing se­lected over her, she is a phe­nom­e­nal singer.

‘‘She had been (to Nor­folk) last year and I was ex­pect­ing she would go again, but that’s not how it hap­pened. I was in shock, it took weeks for me to com­pre­hend what had hap­pened.

‘‘I didn’t even know it was an op­por­tu­nity for me at this point un­til I got it. I worked to­wards get­ting to Nor­folk some­day, but I hadn’t been prac­tis­ing or aim­ing for it this year.’’

While it is Tay­lor Swift in her early coun­try mu­sic years and Car­rie Un­der­wood who in­spire Ha­ley, her big­gest in­flu­ences are Matamata Coun­try Mu­sic club pres­i­dent Michael Tip­ping and his wife Ash­ley.

The teen was in­tro­duced to Ash­ley through a friend and she started singing lessons with her when she was 11. She then be­came a mem­ber of the Matamata Coun­try Mu­sic Club.

‘‘They have been there right from the start. I owe a lot to Ash­ley and Michael for ev­ery­thing they have done. We have worked a lot on all the things I am get­ting awards for now. They are def­i­nitely an in­spi­ra­tion and peo­ple to look up to.’’

Of the three songs Ha­ley will per­form at the Nor­folk Fes­ti­val, one is writ­ten by Michael and Ash­ley.

The young per­former ini­tially wasn’t a fan of coun­try mu­sic but now she hopes to make a ca­reer singing in the style.

‘‘When I was seven-to-eightyears-old I joined the coun­try mu­sic club and when I started en­ter­ing awards I re­ally started to en­joy coun­try.

‘‘I was find­ing and learn­ing songs from other peo­ple that I ac­tu­ally liked, that weren’t the old slow coun­try style.

‘‘Coun­try songs tell a story, I like the style, it has grown on me.’’

De­spite six years of stage per­form­ing and a list of im­pres­sive ac­co­lades, in­clud­ing Star and Muddy River Awards, Ha­ley ad­mits the nerves can still set­tle in.

‘‘I feel more at home if I have my gui­tar with me, with­out it, I have to fo­cus more on my stage pres­ence.‘‘

Ha­ley will have her de­but al­bum out in Fe­bru­ary pro­duced at Kevin Tap­pin and Michael Tip­ping’s Mill Cor­ner Stu­dios in Matamata.

And while she hopes to one day be on an in­ter­na­tional stage and to hear her mu­sic on the ra­dio, right now she is just happy be­ing a teenage girl and en­joy­ing song­writ­ing and singing.

‘‘I will pur­sue coun­try mu­sic and keep do­ing com­pe­ti­tions and fes­ti­vals for as long as I can.’’

Ha­ley Cole will be com­pet­ing for the ti­tle of En­ter­tainer of the Year at the Nor­folk Coun­try Mu­sic Fes­ti­val in May.

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