Singer has dad in her heart

Serenity-Grace Nielsen finds a quiet place to practise and remember her father. Photo: Gregor Richardson
Serenity-Grace Nielsen finds a quiet place to practise and remember her father. Photo: Gregor Richardson
Nearly a year after losing her father, Serenity-Grace Nielsen has found something to celebrate again.

The 13-year-old country music singer has just won the 2017 New Zealand Country Music Association junior entertainer of the year award - something she believes her father, William Nielsen, can take a lot of the credit for.

''It was actually my dad who got me into country music. He always loved country.

''Even though his dying was a sad part of my life, it also showed me how to put that extra emotion into my performances.

''I've learnt to draw on it, especially for the sad songs.

''If I feel like crying when I'm singing, then I'm sure the audience will too.''

She said her dad was her biggest fan, and he would often ask her to perform to the nurses whenever she visited him in hospital.

She said it made her feel closer to her father and the associated emotion had been the secret to her singing successes so far.

The Columba College pupil has already won junior categories at the Gold Guitar Awards, the Southern Alps Country Music Awards and the Auckland Country Music Awards.

Serenity-Grace said she was overwhelmed by her most recent award.

''I'm still a little shocked to be honest. My mum has helped bring me back down to earth by sending me straight back to school.

''Dad would have been so proud.

''I reckon he really helped me and he would have been really happy that I won this. But he also would have wanted to be on stage with me.''

Serenity-Grace said she hoped to compete at the Tamworth Country Music Festival next year, and if she was successful, it would open a wagon-load of musical pathways for her.

''It's a huge stepping stone.''

She said singing was a driving force in her life and something she could see herself making a career from.

''My dad was a very religious man. He always told me to follow my own way and never go off track.

''As long as I have God on my side, I'll be OK.

''That's one of the key points I'll always have in my mind.''

john.lewis@odt.co.nz

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