Town boots up for celebration of country
Yeehaw, it’s Gold Guitars time in the deep south.
Last year, fresh-faced local 19-year-old Jenny Mitchell took out the top prize in the country music competition.
She’d been putting in the hard graft for 11 years.
‘‘That was my big dream,’’ Mitchell said. ‘‘I waited my entire life to play that winner’s spot.’’
However, growing up she did not have a choice in terms of the music she listened to – it was a ‘‘pretty strict country diet’’.
‘‘Dixie Chicks were my lullabies.’’
Since the win, it had been a whirlwind year of opportunity, Mitchell said.
This week she was one of three finalists for the APRA Best Country Music Song at the New Zealand Country Music Awards, also held in Gore.
This weekend 750 entrants and 5000 spectators from across New Zealand slap on a pair of cowboy boots, warm up the vocal chords for a bit of yodelling, and undertake the annual New Zealand country music pilgrimage to Gore.
The Southland town, usually known for its residents rolling r’s and a big statue of a brown trout, becomes the nation’s capital of the globe’s most popular genre of music.
Gore, which has hosted the event for 44 years, is booked out months in advance in anticipation of the country takeover.
Today, 30-35 finalists will take to the stage, guitars in hand, Garth Brooks melodies at the ready, all set to perform in the most prestigious event – the Senior Finals. The one that Mitchell won.
Their incentive is a $15,000 prize package, which includes a music video shot in Nashville, Tennessee. The winner also gets professional photos, and a year’s worth of mentoring from Perriam Media & Entertainment Group, a recording contract, and $3500 prizemoney.
Event convener Philip Geary said the finalists were whittled down from a whopping 720 auditions held throughout the week in a range of categories.
Alongside Mitchell, who is back to perform, are some other previous winners. Waimate’s Kaylee Bell won the competition in 2007, and has springboarded to opening for Carrie Underwood, performing with Keith Urban, and had over one million streams on Spotify.
More than 25 events were part of the week’s activities in Gore, the country the music capital of New Zealand.
Dave Leaf at The Freeze Ya Bits Off busking competition in Gore, held as as part of the Gold Guitar Awards.
Jenny Mitchell was last year’s big Golden Guitar winner.