Country songstress to take the stage
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.