The last night of NZ Music Month saw country music being celebrated in the genre’s heartland with the NZ Country Music Awards staged in Gore. The three finalists for the Best Country Music Artist Tui for 2018 incredibly included husband and wife Phil and Lana Doublet – incredible because rather than a duo, each was individually a finalist – Lana with her album ‘Beautiful Human’ and Phil with his similarly evocatively titled ‘Strength, Love, Music & Light’.
Sadly for the Doublet-double hopes, their two albums were up against Reb Fountain and her emotion-laden EP ‘Hopeful and Hopeless’ which proved to be the Tui-winner. Indeed the night’s double was to be Fountain’s with that EP’s title song also winning her the 2018 Best Country Music Song award.
“Hopeful and Hopeless is a song about people like us, or people less fortunate than us just doing the best they can, trying to get by,” she explains. “But it’s also a song that helped me find my sense of strength and hope and community when I thought that everything was lost. Of all of the songs I’ve written, this song reminds me most of the mighty mariner Sam Prebble, and even though he has passed, he is very present with me every time I play it, so to win best APRA Country Music Song for this means the world to me.”
The EP originated in 2014 with a live recording at The Wine Cellar in Auckland, while Fountain was touring with The Eastern. It was the last time she would share the stage with the late Sam Prebble (Bond St Bridge, The Broken Heartbreakers). In 2017 she released both ‘Hopeful and Hopeless’ and an album called ‘Little Arrows’, which led to her also being a finalist for the Best Folk Artist Tui awarded earlier this year.
Unlucky finalists for the Best Country Music Song title were Jenny Mitchell’s Let Me Be and Kaylee Bell & Brooke McClymont with their song Next Somebody. In its 44th year the NZ Country Music Awards are hosted by the NZ Songwriters Trust ahead of Gore’s annual Gold Guitar Awards weekend.