Serenity Grace Nielsen-Year 8, Winner of The 2017 Junior Golden Guitars

04 July 2017

Tell us a little about your Country Music journey. Where did you compete and what Awards have you received?


Mum and Dad noticed that I liked to sing and organised some lessons with a Vocal Coach by the name of Catherine Short, who happened to specialise in Country Music.  I was encouraged by Catherine to enter the NZ Gold Guitar Awards in 2014 and I qualified for the finals with my Vocal Solo performance ‘Grandpa’ by The Judds.  In 2015, I returned to the NZ Gold Guitar Awards,  and to my surprise I once again qualified for the finals with my Country Rock audition ‘We’re from the Country’ by Tracy Byrd.  In 2016, I did not make the finals, however I received three highly commended acknowledgments for the Junior Solo, Junior Duet and Junior Gospel sections.  This year was particularly difficult for me, Dad passed away in April and our family were still dealing with the loss.  Dad was my biggest fan, he would ask me to perform to the nurses whenever I visited him in Hospital. 

Our Silverpeaks Country Music Club, Youth Leader (Melissa Partridge) encouraged the youth members to enter other competitions in the South Island.  I chose to enter the Central Coast Country Music Awards in Oamaru in July 2016.


It was after this competition that I was inspired to enter more competitions on the circuit to gain more experience, and over 2016 amd 2017 I have been placed in competitions across New Zealand.


The absolute highlight of my journey was when I recently competed at the NZ Gold Guitar Awards on 3 June 2017 and was placed:

  • 1st Vocal Solo
  • Junior Overall Award Winner

As a result of winning the Junior Overall Award, I now have the opportunity to enter the Tamworth Country Music Festival Talent Quest from 17 – 29 January 2018.


When my name was announced I sat there shocked, amazed and could not contain the overwhelming joy I felt.  I could not believe that I was the Junior Overall Winner, it was a dream come true. I was asked to perform my winning song again, and could not stop smiling and giggling, it was a moment that I will treasure for a lifetime.

Why did you choose to sing Country songs, do you perform anywhere else?


I enjoy Country songs because of the stories and catchy tunes. I particularly enjoy Gospel songs because of the heartfelt meanings and messages. I am a member of the Church Youth Group at Nations and I would like to be a worship leader one day, and perform at places like Hillsong and Planetshakers.  Just recently I have volunteered as a Co Host for the Otago Access Radio station with Jayden TJ and Daniel Tucker. As a Silverpeaks Country Music youth member, I really enjoy performing at the Retirement Villages and Rest homes for the elderly.  It is wonderul watching them sing along to ‘Paper roses’ or smile when I perform ‘Happy Anniversary’.

Do you have any plans to enter other competitions?


NZ Entertainer of the Year 2017 (14 October, Rotorua)

Sun City Country Music Awards (Labour Weekend, Nelson)

Tamworth Country Music Festival (17 – 29 January, New South Wales)


My focus is on maintaining my school work while preparing for the next group of competitions. I will be fundraising for flights, accommodation, car rentals  and performance costumes to attend the next three events and would welcome any assistance towards these costs.  You can contact mum (Hinerangi) on 022 371 8596 for any enquiries.