From a Southland sheep farm to the big smoke, Annah
Mac might have travelled a fair few miles but, with her debut
album looming, the journey might just have begun, writes Shane
Annah Mac, whose single Celia has been nominated for
the 2011 Silver Scroll Award.
A swag of music awards; a move from the South Island to
Auckland to further her career; a record deal with major
label Sony; songs with a sweet centre... no, this story is
not about Bic Runga. All of the above applies to Annah Mac.
On discovering the similarities she shares with Runga in
regards early career arcs, the Southland songwriter who spent
her high school years as a boarder at St Hilda's Collegiate,
Dunedin, responds with the same enthusiasm that spills out of
the dozen poppy songs on her forthcoming debut album
"That's cool. I didn't know that. I sort of missed Bic Runga.
I was into Brooke Fraser," the 20-year-old artist (full name
Annah Macdonald) says via telephone from Auckland.
To mark her album's release on Monday, Mac is playing a
one-off Auckland show later that week. Though she hopes to
take her songs on tour around New Zealand at some point,
exactly when has yet to established.
In fact, that's not unlike her career. It's early days, Mac
"I want to make my mark here. I've had a lot of radio play
and exposure but there is a long way to go yet."
Let's take a look at her recent track record:
The only unsigned artist to feature on the first edition
(2009) of the Great New Zealand Songbook, which
included her song Home, Mac released her first single
Focus in late 2009, the song spending 27 weeks in the
radio charts top 100 and reaching No 3 on the New Zealand Top
In early 2010, having moved to Auckland from her parents'
farm in Tokanui, Southland, at the start of 2009, she signed
a royalty-based contract with Sony Music, then subsequently
completed her debut album, aided by American producer Brady
Blade, whose New Zealand connections include Opshop and
Soon after finishing recording, Mac got a chance to test the
songs on her debut album, her live band (which features three
members of now-defunct outfit The Electric Confectionaires)
supporting American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson at her
April 2010 Auckland concert, which attracted an audience of
To cap off a successful - and busy - past couple of years,
Mac's latest single, Celia, has been nominated for the
2011 Silver Scroll Award.
Still, Mac should be used to prizes: during her second year
at St Hilda's, at the age of 15, she won the Play It Strange
secondary schools songwriting competition for Blue
Butterfly; the following year she walked away with the
Smokefree Rockquest female musician award; those trophies sit
alongside three Gold Guitar Awards, the first of which she'd
won before turning 9.
Raised on a sheep farm at Tokanui, about 60km southeast of
Invercargill, Mac took to the stage at the age of 8, joining
her two younger sisters and others in gigs at a local hall.
It was a childhood filled with family jams on various
road-trips, including annual sojourns to the Tamworth Country
Music Festival in New South Wales.
"It's just such a great platform," she says of the Gold
Guitar Awards, held in Gore annually. "I don't know any other
place where a kid can stand on a stage in front of thousands
of people. By the time I got to high school, I was writing
But that's the past. At 20, with a debut album a couple of
days away from hitting shop shelves (and/or the cyber
equivalent of a shelf), Mac is more than a little restless.