Arrowtown-raised Holly Arrowsmith in NZ’s top four

2 minutes read
Posted 6 May, 2024
Holly Arrowsmith 1

Holly Arrowsmith

Arrowtown’s own hometown, folk, ‘alt country’ style songwriter Holly Arrowsmith is still making powerful music waves with her single Desert Dove, now named one of just four finalists for Best Country Music Song in New Zealand’s top country awards Country Music Honours.

Raised in Arrowtown, Arrowsmith, based in Christchurch, will perform at the prestigious awards in Gore on May 24, five years after she took out the APRA Best Country Song for her ‘Slow Train Creek’ at the 2019 awards.

‘Desert Dove’, released in January last year, is the first single on her new record which hasn’t been released yet and is a welcome return to the finalist list, showcasing Arrowsmith’s unique sweet and strong tones in a touching, alt-country ballad inspired by her American grandfather.

The song was also named in the top 20 finalists for the Silver Scroll Awards for the second time last year, right up there alongside other top Kiwi singer-songwriters like Tami Neilson, Marlon Williams, BENEE, Tiny Ruins and Ny Oh.

“In Tuscon, Arizona, my grandfather fed the birds every morning,” Arrowsmith, born in New Mexico, says. “There was a dove that would wake me while I was visiting, mournful and resolute in its song. When he died, I heard that same dove in New Zealand and it filled me with a sense of him.” Desert
Dove is a song about distance, loss and grief, and finding courage in the face of these things, she says.

It’s a poignant, but also uplifting tribute to her American grandfather, whom she idolised growing up. He once traded belt buckles and jewellery with Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash. “Music was always part of the mythology of my childhood,” Arrowsmith said last year. She wrote the song on his passing.

“It feels great to be named as a finalist for this song, particularly because I wrote it in memory of him. He was an amazing person and I'm lucky I get to sing about him and keep those stories alive.”

Her first release in several years, Arrowsmith says the pandemic created a hiatus because she couldn’t tour. “I became a mother and was slowly working on a new record.”

To add to the honours Arrowsmith was delighted to hear Desert Dove being performed by a choir in Melbourne that put out a recording of the song this week. “I was so blown away to hear it being performed on that scale,” she says.

‘Neon Bright’, the second single from her upcoming record, will be out on 9 May for NZ Music Month.

Arrowsmith, who’s style and sound has been likened to American folk legend Joni Mitchell, will be up against other top NZ country music greats with Do You Think Of Me? written by Katie Thompson, Victoria and Andy Knopp, ‘Madeline’ by Jamie McDell and Racing Through The Night’ by Delaney Davidson.



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