McKay makes MLT competition final cut

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Listening to the New Zealand Gold Guitar Awards on the radio as a child had inspired him.

Russell McKay has made it into the finals of this year’s MLT New Zealand Songwriting Awards with a song titled You.

McKay lines up with fellow Gore musicians Jenny Mitchell and her father Ron, whose songs both also made the finals.

McKay has tasted success before, his first CD, Between the River and the Railroad Tracks, winning Album of the Year at the Southland Entertainer of the Year Awards in 2009.

He also entered the MLT songwriting awards in 2008 but did not make the final cut that year.

McKay said making the finalists’ list was fantastic.

He didn’t enter just to win but to “gauge how the song stacked up”, McKay said.

His song You was about overthinking things and second-guessing, McKay said.

When asked if he was talking about himself in the song, he said everybody tended to second-guess or overthink things sometimes.

The song was a contemporary composition.

He played guitar on the recording, he said.

“I just recorded it on my iPhone and sent it in,” he said.

Now all he had to do was practise and polish the song for his performance on the awards night.

He was looking forward to playing at the St James Theatre, where the event is being held, and was feeling both nervous and excited about performing.

While he liked country music, he was also keen on other genres as well, he said.

Listening to the New Zealand Gold Guitar Awards on the radio as a child had inspired him.

He dragged pots and pans out of the cupboard and started to play his brand of music.

That was among his first memories of music.

He found a chord chart belonging to his sister, which further fuelled his passion for music.

A year at the Southern Institute of Technology studying music cemented his passion for music.

The MLT New Zealand Songwriting Awards and New Zealand Country Music Awards will be held in a combined evening on Thursday, June 1, at the SBS St James Theatre in Gore.