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Tami Neilson and Delaney Davidson awarded the 2023 APRA Best Country Music Song

Story Published Friday 2 June 2023

Country music superstars Tami Neilson & Delaney Davidson were this evening presented with the APRA Best Country Music Song Award at the 2023 Country Music Honours in Gore for their song ‘Beyond The Stars’ performed by Tami Neilson and Willie Nelson.

The evening celebrated the best in Aotearoa country music with performances by finalists including The Mitchell Twins, Mel Parsons, Delaney Davidson and more followed by the presentation of both the 2023 APRA Best Country Music Song Award and the MLT Songwriting Award.

‘Beyond The Stars’ was born of grief, capturing co-writers Tami Neilson’s and Delaney Davidson’s pain at the loss of their fathers and the longing to be with them once again.  Hailing from Neilson’s fifth studio album KINGMAKER, this timeless country duet was recorded at Roundhead Studios and features Willie Nelson as the voice of Tami’s father.

Beyond the Stars music video
Tami Neilson acceptance speech

A celebrated musician in both the local and international music scene, Tami Neilson was unable to attend the awards and instead sent a video from the celebrated Ryman Auditorium in Nashville saying “This song is so close to my heart for so many reasons, to have co-written this with my dear friend Delaney Davidson. It is a song that we both wrote for our beloved dads who are both gone now and to have Willie Nelson sing the part of my father, is truly beyond the stars.” The video even shared a special congratulations from legendary Willie Nelson who said “Yay! We won Tami, Best Country Song in New Zealand. Congratulations.”

Delaney Davidson, who was at the awards in Gore to accept the award on the night says “I am very excited to have this song recognised as we wrote it about our fathers. It feels like a way to honour them and keep their spirit alive.”

The song has cemented a place in the hearts of the people of Aotearoa. “We are blessed to have such songwriting talents in this world. Tami and Delaney have crafted a beautiful, raw and heartfelt tribute. Throw in gorgeous strings and the unmistakable voice of Willie Nelson and it is a true classic” says APRA AMCOS Head of New Zealand Operations Ant Healey.

2023 APRA Best Country Music Song:

  • WINNER: ‘Beyond The Stars’ written by Tami Neilson and Delaney Davidson, performed by Tami Neilson and Willie Nelson (Published by Concord Music Publishing)
  • Find A River’ written by Maegan Mitchell, Nicola Mitchell and Tami Neilson*, performed by The Mitchell Twins (*Published by Concord Music Publishing)
  • Slow Burn written and performed by Mel Parsons (Published by Concord Music Publishing)

The MLT Songwriting Award celebrates unreleased songs from Aotearoa and Australia and was presented to Matt Joe Gow for his song ‘Whirlwind’. Jenny Mitchell and Ron Mitchell’s song ‘Daffodils’ was acknowledged as runner-up in the competition.

2023 MLT Songwriting Award:

  • WINNER: ‘Whirlwind’ written by Matt Joe Gow
  • RUNNER-UP: ‘Daffodils’ written by Jenny Mitchell and Ron Mitchell
  • ‘Compte de Paris’ written by Kate Targett-Adams and Chad Robinson
  • ‘Co-Parent’ written by Peter & Joanna Green
  • ‘Goosebumps’ written by Keith Pereira
  • ‘Help Me Remember’ written by Keith Pereira
  • ‘Little Less Lonely’ written by Jenny Mitchell
  • ‘Love Ya Like I Can’ written by Kerryn Fields and Matt Joe Gow
  • ‘Nobody Warns You’ written by Mel Parsons
  • ‘Prairie Song (Hard Times)’ written by Kerryn Fields