Sam’s tribute song

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A finalist in Queenstown’s original song contest will perform a very personal number about the passing of his father. 

Wakatipu High Year 13 student Sam Maxwell, 17, says his Songstars entry revolves around the death of his father Ewan who fell down a cliff in a West Coast hunting accident more than two years ago. 

Sam, one of 10 finalists, will perform the number about his dad – a popular father of five – tonight, tomorrow and Saturday at the Queenstown Memorial Centre. 

“I just came home one night and thought ‘Oh it’s about time I wrote a song about the old bugger’ so I got the pen and paper out and strummed a few chords that worked well together and started writing it all down. 

“It kind of just fell into place for me, I was quite lucky.” 

Sam plans to do his dad proud: “Expressing that kind of personal experience in front of quite a large number of people, I imagine it might get quite emotional but I’ll stick together and do him proud – that’s exactly what he’d want me to do.” 

His song’s sound is best described as soft rock, with a Radiohead feel that builds in intensity. The frontman for Wakatipu High band The Fletcherz is no stranger to writing and performing originals but has enjoyed having the Songstars backing band. 

“I’m just used to bass and drums and guitar – we’re a rock band – and all of a sudden you get to choose what you put in the song and have such a wide range because there’re so many capable musicians in the show and they all play so well with you – it’s really cool.” 

One of the other young guns in the show, Alex Fraser, 18, says he’s tweaked a pretty average love song he wrote a few years ago. 

“I’ve made it not so sappy and I’m pretty happy with it – at least it’s not cringe-worthy.” 

Fraser, a first-year Bachelor of Music student at Otago University, says he’s looking forward to putting himself at the mercy of the audience who vote for the winner each night. The overall winner gets $1000 and the chance to record. 

The other finalists are Rebeca Barnes, Charlotte Graf, Sam Hillman, Holly Hoogvliet, Marty Newell, Victoria Reed, Isabella Reid and Paul Winders. 

Tickets are $40. Shows begin each night at 8pm.