Kiwi country singer signs with Bear Grylls

By Catherine Pattison of the Otago Daily Times

Rising star Jody Direen of Wanaka plays the Paihia Pacific Resort.
Rising star Jody Direen of Wanaka plays the Paihia Pacific Resort.

A chance meeting on a rainy Wanaka day has provided an exciting career opportunity for Wanaka country rock singer Jody Direen.

The meeting led to Direen, 24, being signed by United States-based talent management company Bear Grylls Ventures (BGV).

Direen was performing at Wanaka's Lone Star restaurant in a ''one-off bar gig'' on St Patrick's Day in March when a group of BGV employees approached her after the show. ''They said: 'We think you deserve to get more exposure'.''

Direen said the meeting might have never come about as she usually only sang at private functions.

The BGV employees were there ''only because it was a rainy day'' and they could not film the reality television show Get Out Alive with Bear Grylls, in the Matukituki Valley and Mount Aspiring National Park.

She had been due to fly to the US three weeks after the meeting, as the prize for winning the 2012 Horizon Award at the NZ National Country Music Awards was a spot at the 2013 Global Artist Showcase in Nashville, Tennessee.

BGV, which is headed by British survivalist Bear Grylls, asked Direen to spend two days in Los Angeles with the company. She had a meeting and performed in Hollywood for 19 Entertainment - the talent group which manages stars such as Jennifer Lopez and Carrie Underwood.

About six weeks later, she signed a management contract with BGV, which has offices in London and Los Angeles and does everything from production to talent and brand management.

''We have already achieved so much in a couple of months,'' Direen, a former Mt Aspiring College pupil, said of the ''really exciting'' international direction her career path has taken.

BGV talent manager CJ Cardenas described Direen as ''an amazing entertainer with the vocal talent to make it far in the music industry'' .

''We feel Jody has what it takes to be considered among today's brightest country music stars. The goal is to bring Jody's music to as many people as possible.

"We want to share her talent with the masses - from there, the sky is the limit,'' he said.

She has produced three master tracks. Her new single Loud, due for release on September 23, will be heard by Central Otago listeners first.

''Because it's my home town, I want Radio Wanaka to play my song first,'' Direen said.

- Otago Daily Times

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