Debbie Harwood caught the music bug stepping onto the stages of the Onekawa and Ahuriri Taverns.
Later this month, she'll take centre stage with four close friends and be inducted into the Te Whare Taonga Puoro o Aotearoa (New Zealand Music Hall of Fame)
Harwood might be based in Auckland these days but she has and always will be completely in love with Hawke's Bay.
It's where she caught her "non-negotiable music bug".
Harwood, Annie Crummer, Dianne Swann, Margaret Urlich and Kim Willoughby are all being inducted.
Collectively, the quintet performed as When The Cat's Away in the 1980s, entertaining thousands of Kiwis on the local pub and club circuit.
They re being recognised not just as a vocal group but for their individual contributions to Aotearoa's music scene, their inspiration to local artists and audiences, and their role in shaping popular culture.
All five women got their start in the early '80s.
Crummer and Willoughby, having already released music under either solo or group names, found themselves atop the charts as guest vocalists on the Netherworld Dancing Toys hit "For Today".
Swann's band Everything That Flies was on the rise and earning plaudits, and Harwood's talent was recognised early with a signing to CBS Records and award nominations following soon after.
Urlich was unmissable as the frontwoman of Peking Man.
"When I was a young person, women were outnumbered in the business by perhaps 100 to 1," Harwood says.
"All of us had toured for years in original bands.
"As the touring circuit dissolved and radio shut its doors to local music, surviving as an original band became almost impossible.
"At this time, as video became the new radio, local artists were competing with the huge video budgets of overseas bands.
"Our videos looked tragic in comparison, and it perpetuated the self-effacing Kiwi attitude that New Zealand music was crap.
"It was a tough time. The only way to get to the people at this time was to tour the length and breadth of New Zealand, relentlessly building up a live fan base."
Four of the five women had a chance meeting at the 1985 Aotearoa Music Awards where all of them were finalists.
Not long after that, the idea was floated of adding Willoughby and forming When The Cat's Away.
And this month, Harwood, as an individual and as part of the band, will be inducted into the NZ Music Hall of Fame.
Harwood told Hawke's Bay Today the induction came out of the blue.
"I really wasn't expecting it at all. It's interesting because the more alternative artists tend to be lauded here like mainstream artists are in the rest of the world.
"I guess it's a tall poppy thing, which is both endearing and infuriating at the same time.
"I'm used to just having my head down making music and performing - it's a world with very few markers or acknowledgements in NZ so it caught me by surprise."
She said when she was received the news from the heads of Recorded Music, she shed a few tears.
"I'm not used to it being about me.
"What really thrilled me most though was the fact that we are being inducted as individuals as well as the band.
"Cat's Away took up five years and my solo career took up 37 years so my solo pursuits and music production mean the most to me."
Harwood's musical journey started in Hawke's Bay, and even though she now lives in Auckland, she longs for the region.
"I, daily, long for the skies and still pore over the HB Photographers' Page on Facebook every day marvelling at the extraordinary beauty of my home.
"It took me many years to get used to Auckland but it's where I needed to be for the music and my children are here so I am grateful to be able to call both places home.
"My very first band, Raven, was a hard-working Hawke's Bay band - playing at the Onekawa and Ahuriri Taverns.
''It is absolutely where I got the non-negotiable music bug and where I met the first of many wonderful musicians."
Harwood has gentler plans for the future.
She released an EP in 2019 called "The Sun", featuring five original songs.
"I'm very proud of that record and would like to keep recording in a more intimate way - perhaps just piano and voice. I'm all for 'gentle' now after years of rock music."