Home grown talent

Kaylee Bell is an award-winning country pop singer/ songwriter and guitarist who grew up in Waimate district.

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She started singing at the age of four. ‘My older brother Stewart and my sister Maryann sang and played guitars and drums, so naturally I followed. I performed on stage with them for the first time when I was four, at the Waimate Regent Theatre in the Waimate country music awards.

The family travelled to Timaru each week for music lessons with South Canterbury music royalty Sheryl Higgs and Alistair Bradley.

‘My brother would learn electric guitar off Alistair Bradley and my sis and I would learn singing and guitar with Sheryl. She was my teacher from when I was 8, until I was 18.’

She can’t remember a time when music wasn’t part of her life.

‘I love so much music it’s always been hard to say my favourite but I grew up on a lot of strong female artists like LeAnn Rimes, Alanis Morissette, Sheryl Crow, Carrie Underwood, Shania Twain, Karen Carpenter ... the list goes on!’

Kaylee's favourite song at the moment is ‘I Love Capital Letter’ by Hailee Steinfeld but this is always changing.

She says it’s hard to pick just one. ‘So many songs have shaped me and my life and have been important to me at different times in my life for different reasons.’

Her proudest moments in her work life are around her song writing.

‘Anything I write that I know was the truth and what I needed to say.’

Her breakout song 'That’s What I Call Crazy’ was one of Australia's most played country songs of 2016 and more recently her single ‘Getting Closer’ - written with Australian country music star Morgan Evans - has gained international attention from US country pop superstars Keith Urban, Carrie Underwood and Kelsea Ballerini and continues to clock up some impressive streaming stats online. (Spotify 1 million plus plays).

She has toured Australia with the McClymonts, Lee Kernaghan and Morgan Evans; and opened for US artists The Dixie Chicks, and played with Keith Urban on their world tours .

Kaylee will release her highly anticipated new album later this year.

She has some advice for aspiring musicians too:  ‘If you love it then do it and never give up ... ever. Always find positive in the lesson and just never give up!’


Favourite thing about Waimate District:

The people. I feel lucky to have grown up with so many opportunities that you only get the chance to be a part of through living in a small town and with a bunch of great childhood friends.

Favourite thing to eat in Waimate District:

Well the Vines was my fave spot for a coffee and their scones or platters if I was with some friends, but also Riverstone if that is still considered Waimate District (it’s Waitaki District!) … and if not it’s still worth the drive ha!

Favourite place in Waimate District

‘The view from the vines at sunset  is pretty amazing. And home of course.’

Note - The Vines has closed, but another eatery, Harvest Bar and Kitchen, is due to open in the same spot in March 2018.

Kate O'Connell