Delaney Davidson sits on top of the country’s country music pile as both artist and producer with the announcement of the 2020 Country Music Award winners for album and single. Davidson and Barry Saunders have together won the 2020 Tui for NZ’s Best Country Artist for their collaboration album ‘Word Gets Around’, while Tami Neilson won the Best Country Song award for Hey Bus Driver! – one of two singles from her February 2020 ‘Chickaboom!’ album for which she was judged a finalist. (The other was Any Fool With A Heart while her co-finalists up for Best Country Music Song were Kaylee Bell with That Summer and Katie Thompson for her own anthemic West Coast.
Both songwriters of excellence and with a number of other successful collaborations between them, the Davidson and Saunders joint venture released in April 2019 proved a tour de force of atmospheric music Davidson has described as “a manic and barnstorming balance.” Melding his trademark dark power, with the heartfelt, straight dealing of living legend Barry Saunders, their ‘Word Gets Around’ album was produced by Davidson who notably also co-produced Neilson’s winning song/album – making him a winner on two significant counts.
Other finalists for the Best Country Artist title were Katie Thompson for her album ‘Bittersweet’ and Kendall Elise for ‘Red Earth’. Tami Neilson of course already has four Best Country Album Tuis (2009, 2010, 2012 and 2015) to her name, and the Davidson/ Neilson combo is well tested and much loved, the pair winning Best Country Music Song back in 2014 for their duet Whiskey and Kisses.
With the 2020 Country Music Awards in Gore cancelled because of the Covid-19 crisis, the winners were announced live on Radio NZ’s Music 101 show. Ironically, 2020 was to be the inaugural Tussock Country Music Festival, incorporating all the different annual Gore events and awards.