Arrowtown's Holly Arrowsmith wins Best Country Song award

May 25, 2024

The best in New Zealand country music gathered in Gore this weekend at the Country Music Honours to celebrate the finalists and winners for the 2024 APRA Best Country Music Song Award and MLT Songwriting Award.

The glamour red-carpet event was alive with country music superstars, coming together to celebrate the opening of the Bayleys Tussock Country Music Festival, a 10-day long event of all things Tussock Country.

The audience was treated to performances by finalists Holly Arrowsmith, Katie Thompson and Mel Parsons and special guest Suzanne Prentice to name a few with MC Steve Broad hosting the evening.

South Island folk songwriter Holly Arrowsmith was presented as the winner of the APRA Best Country Music Song Award for her song ‘Desert Dove’.

‘Desert Dove’ is Arrowsmith’s second Best Country Song Award winning song, following her win in 2019 for ‘Slow Train Creek’.   The song showcases her trademark sweet and true voice, with the classic, catchy alt-country ballad inspired by her grandfather.

“In Tucson, Arizona my grandfather fed the birds every morning" Holly explains. "There was a dove that would wake me while I was visiting, mournful and resolute in its song. When he died, I heard that same dove in New Zealand and it filled me with a sense of him. It is a song about distance, loss and grief, and finding courage in the face of these things.”

A leader within the contemporary folk and alt-country movement in Aotearoa, Arrowsmith’s sound pays homage to tradition without being too reverential. From driven, glittering ‘90s guitars with rich layered vocals reminiscent of Mazzy Star, to her falsetto lilt and stripped back emotive performances, she shapeshifts from powerful to intimate with ease, and ‘Desert Dove’ captures this talent perfectly.

Watch the official video for ‘Desert Dove’ 

The 2024 MLT Songwriting Award celebrates unreleased songs from Aotearoa and Australia and was presented to Mel Parsons for her song ‘Hardest Thing’ while Nicola Mitchell’s song ‘The Man Who Told Me’ was acknowledged as runner-up in the competition.

Award-winning singer songwriter and Lyttleton based touring artist Mel Parsons is no stranger to awards, having claimed a Tūi at the 2020 Aotearoa Music Awards, 2019 Taite Music Prize finalist and Top 20 finalist for the APRA Silver Scroll Award in the same year.  She was also a finalist for the APRA Best Country Music Song Award last year with her song ‘Slow Burn’.

Mel’s unreleased song ‘Hardest Thing’,  is a “pretty straight up and down love song”.
Mel is performing at the Tussock Stage on Saturday 25th May 6.30pm at the Little Theatre in Gore as part of the Bayleys Tussock Country Music Festival.

2024 APRA Best Country Music Song Award

  • WINNER: ‘Desert Dove’ written and performed by Holly Arrowsmith
  • ‘Do You Think Of Me?’ written by Katie Thompson, Victoria Knopp, and Andy Knopp, performed by Katie Thompson
  • ‘Madeline’ written and performed by Jamie McDell
  • ‘Racing Through The Night’ written and performed by Delaney Davidson

2024 MLT Songwriting Award

  • WINNER: ‘Hardest Thing’ Written by Mel Parsons
  • RUNNER UP ‘The Man Who Told Me’ Written by Nicola Mitchell
  • ‘Nothing To Fear’ Written by Mark Casey & Lavina Williams
  • ‘Boots’ Written by Jon Collins
  • ‘Wilted Flower’ Written by Fiona Louise
  • ‘Your Old Ways’ Written by Chad Robinson & Kate Targett-Adams
  • ‘Addicted’ Written by Rosie Teese
  • ‘Tell Me Mama’ Written by Karra Rhodes
  • ‘When I Go’ Written by Zac Griffith, Co-written by Allan Caswell
  • ‘Little Victories’ Written by Barry Saunders

 Main Image: Holly Arrowsmith - credit Si Moore

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