If you’re not familiar with Tami Neilson’s face by now, where on earth have you been?? She’s our adopted Canadian-born Queen of Country, who been cleaning up at all the NZ music awards (Silver Scroll anyone?!), has been the gorgeous front-cover portrait of the Glory Days Magazine for the past couple of months, and was one of the featured artists at Christmas in the Park this year! Yup, and she’s a mom to two sweet babes, has been performing in a bevy of gigs as of late, and is like kin with NZ’s beloved country-sisters, The Topp Twins.
Tami is one sweet, gorgeous and talented Big Deal. And I was lucky enough to meet, chat and co-design with her! Can’t wait to show what we concocted, but for now let’s chat with our Canadian-Kiwi Country Sweetheart…
1) NZ is often compared to Canada, as they both seem like the small, over-polite brother, to their respective loud, big brother countries. Being a NZ-settled Canadian, what kiwi things remind you of home?
I find Kiwis and Canadians have a very similar self-depreciating sense of humour. We aren’t afraid to poke fun and not take ourselves too seriously. I also find the lush scenery and vast beauty of our countries very similar. NZ always reminds me of the best bits of Canada, squeezed into an island. Like an abridged, pocket edition of a novel, where you can skip the boring parts!
2) Who are the three most inspirational people to you?
Yikes, that’s a biggie. Hard to choose only 3, so, I might have to cheat a little (a good way to kick off an answer about “inspiration”…) and say that my family probably inspire me most. My Dad inspired me with his music, my Mom inspired me with her sense of style, my Hubby inspires me to achieve things that I don’t think I can, my Babies inspire me to be a better person, a Mother that I hope they can be proud of.
3) What started your love of country music, and how has the NZ scene changed over the years?
My childhood was completely saturated with music, I grew up singing and touring North America in my family band, so, you would think it might be a bit hard to pinpoint the exact time, but, I think I can narrow it down to the first time my Dad brought home “Coal Miner’s Daughter”, (the Loretta Lynn story) on VHS (damn, I’m old) and I watched it, totally transfixed and fell in love with Loretta on the spot, picked up my Dad’s guitar and started to write my own songs.
I’ve noticed a huge shift since arriving here 9 years ago. At first, it was pretty daunting, coming from a country where it is so mainstream and one of the most successful genres, to a country where it got little to no exposure in the media or recognition in the industry, and when it did, was treated with a bit of disdain. For a song by a country artist to win the Silver Scroll (the most prestigious music award in NZ) this year says a lot about how much it has shifted and how far country music has come.
4) If you could share the stage with anyone (dead or alive), who would it be and where would your dream performance be?
5) It’s Christmas (almost)! What is your favourite holiday tradition?
Even after 9 years of making my life in NZ, I still can’t quite get used to Christmas without snow, and a lot of the traditions I grew up with are wrapped up in the whole winter culture… like hot chocolate by the fire and building snowmen… but, I’ve made new traditions here in NZ, like driving up Franklin Rd to look at the all the houses decked out with beautiful lights, while we eat ice creams and listen to Bing Crosby’s White Christmas on the stereo or watching “It’s A Wonderful Life” snuggled up on the couch. I love decorating the tree, and this year was especially fun now that my 2.5 year old understands what’s going on and gets so excited!
6) Where in NZ is your fave place for some downtime with your wee family?
Because I spend a lot of my time travelling and working on most weekends, I actually love just being home and spending time there. I know it sounds a bit boring, but, it’s actually really lovely to wake up in your own bed and wear our pajamas til noon and be lazy and just be together as a family in our own little nest.
I think we are all giving little nods of agreement to that last one; mmm PJ’s and nesting… And who else loves visiting epic Christmas Lights while devouring ice-cream?? I know I DO!
What a total sweetheart! I look forward to sharing our collab project with you early next week.
Until then, enjoy this last mad weekend before Christmas, be sure to get some Christmas Light sight-seeing in, and if you haven’t seen Tami perform yet, you can catch her at The Gunslingers Christmas Ball tomorrow night, or at Summer in the Square on Saturday.