The highly-anticipated APRA Best Country Music Song Award was announced live on Radio New Zealand’s Music 101 on Saturday 18th June. Taking out the title this year is the ever-moving masterpiece ‘Trouble Finds A Girl’ written by multi-award winning alt-country artist Jenny Mitchell, the esteemed Tami Neilson, Ōtautahi’s Chris Wethey and Papua New Guinea born Tali Jenkinson (Vallé).
Written together at an APRA Songhubs song writing camp held in Ōtautahi, the stirring track was inspired by Mitchell and Neilson’s
personal experiences working in the industry, as well as, the work carried out by award-winning Stuff journalist Alison Mau, who investigated #metoo claims within the New Zealand music industry. The revelations, and the bravery of many NZ artists who chose to speak out about their own experiences over the past year, sparked a conversation between Jenny and Tami in their song writing session. Discussing their own experiences, and wanting to advocate for change, ‘Trouble Finds a Girl’ came to life.
Speaking to the work, Jenny Mitchell says “It’s for my little sisters, who I hope to be able to guide and educate as they make their way through the music industry. It’s for the world in general, and any person who’s ever felt unsafe; inside the entertainment industry or not.”
Hailing from Southern NZ, Jenny Mitchell has had an impressive career to date. Her 2018 album WILDFIRES, produced by Sydney’s Matt Fell, was awarded the 2019 Tūī for Recorded Music NZ Best Country Music Artist. Following her first Tūī, the album became the first NZ album to receive a nomination for Alt-Country Album of the Year at the 2020 Australian Golden Guitar Awards.
On collaborating with industry icon Tami Neilson, Jenny describes the experience as an honour. “Tami’s been one of the biggest musical inspirations of my life and has also been a fierce protector of me as I’ve navigated the industry. I can’t really even put into words what it means to have her on the song.”
No stranger to the podium herself, Tami Neilson returns in 2022 to claim the APRA Best Country Music Award for the third year running, a trifactor further solidifying her place as one of today’s most dynamic, decorated and respected country music artists.
Tami is a reminder of the soul-shattering effect of the human voice at the height of its powers, and ‘Trouble Finds A Girl’ is no exception. The song’s message is a powerful, sombre and sobering one, but one that should be heard by everyone… And Neilson makes damn sure that you’re listening.
Ōtautahi Songhubs curator and Aotearoa’s own Country Music Troubadour, Delaney Davidson reflects “I was very excited to see what Tami and Jenny were going to come up with. From the descriptions of that session, it was a hang on for dear-life style affair. And I remember listening back at the end of the day - the song had a really profound effect, thinking about Jenny and her protective feelings for her sisters and Tami's experience and care echoing that too. So great that Tali and Chris were part of the writing team and seeing them all on stage together in Gore to represent this kaupapa was a real moment to be proud of”.
With a style that is a fusion of R&B and Hip-Hop but melodically pop/radio friendly, Tali Jenkinson (Vallé) shows that his ear and pen for music are equally gifted. Vallé has carefully been honing his craft, drawing on experiences from everyday life but keeping his Papua New Guinean heritage at the forefront of everything he has to say. Telling people "Music got into me" - Jenkinson saw every time music reached out it's hand to him, he grabbed it and ran with it hand and hand. It is no surprise with his consistent dedication and vision that Vallé rightfully has his first Song Award under his belt with ‘Trouble Finds A Girl’.
Chris William Wethey blends his love of soul, folk and stirring vocal harmonies into this work. Ripe with both emotion and tension, this year’s Winning Song reflects Wethey’s innate ability to seamlessly draw on his versatile portfolio of experience to enhance the atmosphere and ambiance of whatever it is he lends his hand too – this could be a result of his time as a respected music teacher, or perhaps a reflection of his diverse musical training. Whatever it is, it is not only noticeable but deeply moving.
APRA AMCOS Head of New Zealand Operations Ant Healey says: “It’s exciting when a dream team comes together and makes great music, even better when it comes with an important message.”
The incredible calibre of Aotearoa’s Country Music continues to flourish and with that, so too do the stories and song writing of our world-leading country artists.
For more information on Jenny Mitchell visit http://www.jennymitchell.co.nz/
For more information on Tami Neilson visit http://www.tamineilson.com/
For more information on Chris Wethey visit https://www.instagram.com/chriswilliamwethey/?hl=en
For more information on Tali Jenkinson visit https://www.officialvalle.com/