Countdown to stardom begins


The countdown to Queenstown’s annual Songstars singer-songwriter competition has begun.

Auditions will be held on June 7 and the contest itself, featuring performances of 10 original songs, will be held at the Arrowtown Hall from July 23 to 25.

This year’s fifth contest, billed as New Zealand’s only original artists extravaganza, is being produced by the new Songstars Trust.

“It hasn’t been pulling its weight in terms of paying for itself, so in order to keep it going we’ve decided it needs to become a charitable trust,” producer Margaret O’Hanlon says.

“What we’re doing is not The X Factor, it’s not The Bachelor, what we’re doing is a something a little more specialised.

“We’re asking people to open up their ears and minds to something they haven’t heard before - that’s risky, that’s also creative.”

There’ll also be a couple of tweaks this year. Audiences can still vote for a winner each night but the overall winner will be chosen by an expert independent panel.

In another departure, the winner will receive a recording scholarship to help develop their musical and songwriting ability, and a video of their song will be made.

Asked her advice to anyone wanting to audition, O’Hanlon says: “Just have a song that is unique, that you feel passionate about performing, because it’s not just the song, it’s the whole package.”

Video audition entries will also be accepted this year.

Last year’s winner was Tai Forrester, singing Guilty.