Tami Neilson hits the road this week on a national tour. We catch up with the multi-award winning songstress to ask about her Songs of Sinners.

1. Describe you/your sound in a single sentence


I like the way Nick Bollinger at RNZ (Radio New Zealand) once described me and my music: "A red-hot honky-tonker, somewhere between Patsy Cline and Wanda Jackson with perhaps just a little bit of Peggy Lee sophistication".

2. Your show is called Songs of Sinners. Tell us a bit about the theme of the tour and why it's called that.
I wanted to tell the story of how gospel and blues became rock and roll. How the lines were always blurred between the sacred and the profane with artists who grew up in the church (like Sam Cook, Aretha Franklin, Mavis Staples, Ray Charles) but then became secular stars. Music that isn't necessarily well-known but, without its influence, we may not have had the artists that it shaped - from Elvis to Prince.


3. You've been touring extensively overseas over the past year, and you're about to hit the road in New Zealand. What's the biggest difference between playing for audiences around the world and playing to a local crowd?
There is more pressure to prove yourself to an unknown audience, so in New Zealand I can just relax and have fun. NZ audiences are more familiar with me and my music, so it's like picking up where you left off with an old friend.

4. The way fans listen to music is changing all the time. What do you think the industry will look like in a few years' time. Can you foresee any major changes or trends?
I do like the vinyl resurgence and hope that people keep gravitating to the physical, tangible forms of music, as I feel it adds value to the whole experience. Digital is so disposable and doesn't hold the same weight for me. I'm interested to see what the next physical form of music could be and if there will be a backlash to music you can't touch or really own.

5. Your voice has been described as coming from the golden age of country. How important is the element of nostalgia to you as an artist and to your image?
Being raised on the road in a travelling family band, my main musical influence was my dad, not peers my own age, so the music of the 40s, 50s and 60s is the music that really formed me. I guess it's really ingrained into my identity, so, it naturally translates into my music and my image.

6. You released your album Don't Be Afraid in 2015. Is there a chance of new music on the horizon?
There's always a something bubbling on the back burner when you're a songwriter! I am in the process of writing my next album and heading into the studio at the end of this year, after all my international touring has wrapped up for the New Zealand spring/summer.

7. Who do you admire in the New Zealand music scene and why?
I really admire hard-working artists who are proactive and do everything themselves. Mel Parsons and Delaney Davidson are two artists who I count as dear friends and people I can bounce ideas off of, go to for their input and they can do the same with me.

8. What is your favourite song to perform live?
I love performing Reap What You Sow by Otis Rush. It's such a powerful song and really pushes my limits as a vocalist and a performer and wrings out every last drop of energy and stamina!

9. You can only fit one album on your device. What is it?
Mavis Staples - You Are Not Alone.

10. You're curating a music festival - who's on the bill, alive or dead?
Nina Simone, Judy Garland, Mavis Staples, The Beatles, Patsy Cline, Elvis Presley, Howlin' Wolf, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Ray Charles, Louis Armstrong, Big Mama Thornton, Hank Williams, Ella Fitzgerald, St Paul & The Broken Bones, Janis Joplin, Etta James ... how many days is this festival?


See tour dates and venues at www.eccles.co.nz/tami-neilson