Wanaka-based singer/songwriter Jody Direen, who plans to head to Nashville next year to further her career. Photo by McRobie Studios.
Rising country music singer Jody Direen has come a long way
since performing in the Otago Daily Times' Big Night
In at Forsyth Barr Stadium last year - and come April she
will be going even further.
Direen (23), of Wanaka, told the ODT her experience
during the show, which marked the paper's 150th anniversary,
''The main thing for me was the sheer size - it was the
biggest crowd I've ever performed in front of.
''It gave me the feeling if I could do that, I could do
anything ... it fuelled my drive and determination a little
bit more. It made me want it more and have more of those
While performing in front of about 20,000 people was
nerve-racking, Direen said she had come a ''long way since
then in terms of handling pressure''.
This year, she has balanced performing gigs across the South
Island, managing and staging her own ticketed shows, and
writing her own music for her second album, which will have
more of a pop influence - with a little bit of help from some
of the country music industry's heavyweights.
Direen spent time in Australia earlier this year writing with
some of the top country songwriters and also had meetings
with Keith Urban's former manager, Greg Shaw.
''It was awesome ...he's keen to help me out."
After winning the New Zealand National Country Awards Horizon
Award earlier this year, Direen earned herself a trip to
Nashville in June, coinciding with the Country Music America
Festival where she will perform a 20-minute set at the Global
Artist Showcase in front of industry representatives.
However, after talking to Mr Shaw, she has decided to travel
to Nashville in April and spend three months in the country
music capital of the world, focusing on songwriting.
''[Greg] has a lot of contacts that would take me years to
build up myself ... one girl in particular writes songs for
''I'm just going to suss the whole Nashville thing out; I'll
know what to do after that, whether I find a way of staying
there, or coming and going.
''I'm at the point now where I need to just do something a
little bit different to get to the next level.
''I never want to turn my back on New Zealand - my career so
far has been New Zealand and that's really important to me
... I'm just going to go over there and see what comes of
She also has a record deal with Ambition Entertainment
pending, but was ''not quite ready'' to sign it yet.
''They are quite happy with that. There's a lot more to
consider - it does limit your opportunities once you've
signed and I don't feel I'm quite there yet. I want to have a
look around and see what other opportunities there are out
While ultimately her dream to become an internationally
renowned singer and songwriter ''seems so far away'', Direen
was determined to keep going.
''A lot of people are telling me how tough it is over there
and the chances of making it are extremely small. I'm
listening to it and knowing it's going to be bloody tough,
but I'm not going to [give up]."