Song starlet on course for golf

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Pop starlet Jamie McDell is relishing the opportunity to perform for a more diverse audience in Queenstown next Saturday. 

The 20-year-old Aucklander will be backed by a full band as she headlines golf’s NZ PGA Championship open-air evening concert at The Hills, near Arrowtown. 

McDell has enjoyed a meteoric rise to prominence since releasing her debut single a year ago this week. 

And while internet-savvy teenagers make up the majority of her fan base, the youngster says she’s equally comfortable performing for all ages. 

“I get my inspiration from very old country musicians like John Denver,” McDell says. 

“People definitely find that surprising – so I love to be able get up on stage, talk about it and have people appreciate where I’m coming from. 

“I’m really excited and keen for people to come down. 

“This will be one of my longest performances and this time I’ve got a really great band – so enthusiastic and they’re amazing musicians – so it will be a really fun show,” she says. 

McDell’s debut single You’ll Never Take That Away spent four weeks at the top of the New Zealand singles chart and song Rewind also topped the charts. 

Album Six Strings and a Sailboat was released in November and will make up her set, along with new songs penned over the summer and a few covers. 

“Writing is an outlet for me when I have something to say and don’t feel I can talk to my friends about it – it’s probably how I communicate best. 

“It all really comes at once. I don’t know how it happens – it’s a rush of feelings. The easiest time to write is when you’re actually really upset or angry about something because you’re full of emotion.” 

Labelled NZ’s answer to American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift and chart-topping pop-folk songstress Jewel, the musician divides her time between the studio and the beach in the northern surf town of Mangawhai – surfing, sailing and volunteering as a lifeguard. 

“Writing my own music is the most important thing for me, so I need to be experiencing life to do that.” 

But lifeguarding as a high-profile emerging artist has thrown up some interesting situations. 

“It’s been interesting this summer – I’m standing on the beach trying to patrol on flags and there’s pretty much my main audience, teenagers, hanging around the beach and they pick me out. 

“I helped a couple of girls who were in a rip, nothing serious, just preventative action. 

“They were more shocked I had come out rather than that they were in a rip. So it was kind of, ‘Hi I’m Jamie, but let’s get out of this rip’.” 

McDell, a prolific internet video blogger signed to EMI, is also looking forward to experiencing Queenstown – although not for its world-class golfing. 

“Unfortunately I’m just not a golfer,” she laughs. 

“My first time in Queenstown was a month ago for the introductions. 

“I just couldn’t believe it – it’s so awesome down there. So we’ll definitely go exploring.” 

Catch Jamie McDell, supported by The Lynch Mob, at ‘The 19th’ at The Hills, Arrowtown, on Saturday from the close of play. Free for those attending the championships

Jamie’s local support 

Queenstown favourites The Lynch Mob will take to the stage after Jamie McDell to keep the party going at The 19th. 

The family band features four siblings – Emma Pullar on vocals, and brothers Ben, Nick and Tom Lynch on vocals and lead guitar, keyboard and bass. Drummer Marc Hamilton and vocalist Stacey McDonald complete the line-up. 

Pullar says: “It’s such a spectacular setting at The Hills. 

“The 19th has an amazing amphitheatre for the audience. It’ll be a great night.”