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Singing in a sea of cowboy hats

by Mark Peters

Stetsons and Wrangler jeans are floodin’ through the door/And it’s sink or swim as soon as you hit the floor, say a handful of words from Chely Wright’s country song Sea of Cowboy Hats.

Although other demands meant Gisborne singer Zandria Taare had largely been out of the country music loop for some years, not only did she manage to swim, she flew in her performance of Wright’s upbeat hit.

Winning the recent Pounamu Country Music Awards’ senior female solo vocals category came as a complete surprise, she says.

“Everyone was cracking up laughing at my face.”

In fact, one of the Levin-based event’s organisers, who had seen Taare perform 10 years ago asked her to be part of this year’s Pounamu Country Music Awards.

“Gisborne went to support the awards last year and the organisers said ‘can you bring that girl with all the cowboy gears next time’.”

Both I’m From The Country, the song she sung in the heats, and Sea of Cowboy Hats are up-tempo, she says.

“I love my fast songs.”

Other Gisborne and East Coast performers also enjoyed success at the event.

Manutuke musician Whata Brown was runner-up in the western, gospel, solo and country rock categories while, known for her yodelling ability, former Gisborne Country Music Club member Florence Mataki yodelled her way to success in the finals and was overall winner of the event’s senior category.

As guest artists, senior entertainer of the year winners, The Nia Nias wowed the crowd with their performance.

“The manaakitanga down there was amazing,” says Taare. “They really made us feel at home. There is a different atmosphere in country music. Everyone wishes you luck even if they want to win themselves.”

I’M FROM THE COUNTRY: Gisborne country singer Zandria Taare’s win with her performance of I’m From The Country in the recent Pounamu Country Music Awards heats was a stepping stone to a bigger prize. Picture by Rebecca Grunwell

  1. Wiremu, Tamaki Makaurau says:

    Well deserved Zandria, you’ve been in the wings too long. Remember saying to you ages ago you had what it takes to be a winner. Humility is another quality you possess and I believe you are authentic n real – you not only sound country but you dress country and yet there’s no mistaking who You are. Nga mihi nui!!