Award-winning songstress Tami Neilson is hitting the road in her adopted hometown of New Zealand and is bringing the likes of Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash with her - well at least their songs.

And no corner of the country will miss out on her booming voice (or laugh) with a show even planned at the village hall in Paekakariki - tickets for which can be purchased at the local fruit and veg shop.

"I know it's totally off the beaten track and people are like 'why was this smaller show added to your tour?' But I love Paekakariki. It's one of my favourite places to play," she said.

"They're a lovely, fun, raucous audience. It's always the first venue that sells out."


The 11-date nationwide Tami Neilson Sings Songs of Sinners tour is her most extensive headline tour on our shores, the idea for which evolved from a request to perform a gospel show as part of a jazz festival in Christchurch.

"They said 'could you put together maybe a gospel show?' And I was like 'um, well um, an hour and a half of gospel music is pretty intense', can I kinda go with the theme of the songs of sinners and how gospel music became rock 'n' roll?" Neilson said.

"Because whether you are a person of faith or not gospel music was an incredible influence on almost all the beloved artists of today."

The Canadian-born artist and her Hot Rockin' Band of Rhythm have promised to belt out originals and classics from the greats who have had a hand in shaping the powerhouse she has become.

"I wanted to give my New Zealand audiences something a little different and new that they hadn't seen before I go away touring overseas for the rest of the year," Neilson said about the show.

One of Neilson's "musical heroes", whose songs will feature in the show, is American RnB and Gospel singer Mavis Staples, who Neilson opened for in Auckland last month.

"I considered retiring after that because I just thought this isn't going to get any better," Neilson said.

"I always had such an affinity with her because she grew up in a family band, singing with her father on stage and that's how I grew up. She then lost her father and put out an album to keep his legacy going on and that's what I did when my dad passed away - made sure to put an album out which included his songs."

Neilson spent her teenage years touring across Canada and the US with the Neilson Family Band, which included opening for Johnny Cash.

She moved to New Zealand 11 years ago to marry her Kiwi husband. The couple has since had two little boys.

Neilson said she couldn't pick a favourite country from her past or current hometown because that would be "like trying to pick one of your kids, right".

Her dream scenario, however, would be to get the best of both worlds by skipping Canadian winter for a Kiwi summer and vice versa.

"I just have to get my music successful enough that I can chase summer all my life," she said.

That dream came a whole lot closer when So Far Away from Neilson's Don't Be Afraid album got picked up by popular ABC series Nashville.

About 40 seconds of the song featured on show's soundtrack.

"I'm a big fan of the show. I have a weakness for cheesy soap operas," she said followed by that hearty laugh.

"It was definitely in the background. It was in this noisy honky-tonk scene in a bar and I was playing on the jukebox. But I just did not care I was like 'I'm in there, I can hear a little bit'."

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