Sharon has the golden touch


Sharon Russell with the awards she won at the New Zealand Gold Guitar Awards in Gore. PHOTO: JOHN...
Sharon Russell with the awards she won at the New Zealand Gold Guitar Awards in Gore. PHOTO: JOHN COSGROVE
Kaiapoi country music singer Sharon Russell was not expecting to win any glory at this year's Gold Guitar Awards.

The Kaiapoi country music singer/songwriter just wanted to be there to sing alongside her grandson’s supporting band.

It came as a shock when she scooped seven individual awards and two duet trophies at the national music competition.

The 49th MLT NZ Gold Guitar Awards were part of the Bayley’s Tussock Country, a 10-day-long country music festival held in Gore.

‘‘I hadn’t decided whether or not to compete this year,’’ says Sharon.

‘‘But when I heard my grandson Josh Keating had formed a backing band to support competing singers, I entered all the classes in the classic section, hoping he and his band would accompany me on at least one of my songs.’’

As it turned out, Josh’s band backed her as she competed in all her classes in the hugely popular classic country music category.

Sharon, who has been an entrant and winner at the awards for over 30 years, says this year the classic category was huge.

‘‘Last year we had 140 entries, this year 220 classic entries took to the stage. It was a great event as all my friends had decided to enter, so we had a lot of fun.’’

The Gold Guitar Awards also saw a resurgence with a record 790 entries in all classes.

‘‘It was a record year for the event and I almost didn’t go this year, but I’m glad I did.’’

At the awards presentation, a shocked Sharon says she was honoured and humbled to have won her sections in the Classics.

‘‘‘But I have sore knees and it was a struggle climbing up and down to the stage each time.’’ She won the NZ Song and the classic Vocal Solo sections with a song she wrote inspired by a close family friend, Dani Rupene, titled “Who’s gonna love me now?”

‘‘When she was battling cancer at 23, one day I was holding her in hospital she looked up at me and asked, Who’s gonna love me now?’’

‘‘ It was a very emotional moment and that was the inspiration for the song.’’ Three generations of Sharon’s family collaborated on the song.

‘‘I wrote the words, my son Tahu Russell and grandson Josh Keating wrote the music — we did it as a family.’’

‘‘It was a very emotional win.’’

She took out the country rock and the gospel sections, then won the duet section with her long-time friend, Lesley Nia Nia from Auckland.

After seven times climbing the stage steps, she thought it was all over until she was called back yet again to win overall runner-up and her duet with Lesley Nia Nia took out the overall title.

‘‘I was completely overwhelmed. It is very stressful competing and yet I had all my family there to support me.’’

Despite all her individual successes, Sharon says her most memorable moment of the entire festival was earning a third place in the open vocal group section with a song she wrote for her late son, Daniel.

‘‘It was a hugely emotional moment as I sang it accompanied for the first time by my youngest grandson 12-year-old Liam Keating.’’

Next year at the 50th NZ Gold Guitars, Sharon will be a featured artist.