Australian soul and R & B diva Toni Swain is to debut her white-hot stage show in Wairarapa.
Swain, who is based in the tiny New South Wales settlement of Nundle, begins a tour of New Zealand next month with her own band after first playing the Shakey Isles about a decade ago with Anthony Jones and a Sydneysider group.
The Toni Swain Band plays King Street Live on March 7 and could also join the line-up for the Wairarapa Wine Festival as part of a tour in support of her latest album, The Red Shed.
Swain, speaking on Friday from her Nundle home, said the four-piece band accompanying her on the three-week tour includes ex-pat Kiwi guitarist Roy Payne, who is originally from Auckland, and drummer Scotty Bennett, who was born and lived in New Zealand until he turned 7.
"I have a few friends in the South Island. Like Aly Cook, a singer-songwriter who will be helping to promote the Masterton gig and will also be on the bill as support at our gig at The Boathouse in Nelson."
Swain said the upcoming tour will showcase her original songs and tunes taken from her latest eight-track album, which was written "while I was living off grid in a self-built shed deep in the Tasmanian bush".
"Those songs were written by candlelight and wine, literally."
She said the album had spawned "many short performance runs down to Melbourne and the south NSW coast, and up the north coast to Sydney and thereabouts" and generated a flood of new compositions.
"I've been inspired to write many, many more tunes - very new, soulful, and a lot of jazz and blues roots.
"This is the direction the music is heading after the last album, which was probably more blues jazz country."
Swain, originally from Perth, took to the road at 18 to play guitar and saucepans through Turkey and Eastern Bloc nations in Europe, according to her online biography.
"The Sydney years that followed saw Toni branch out into many different band, duo and trio line-ups, but especially solo mode, playing the acoustic shows around the traps."
She had performed at major blues festivals across Australia including the Bridgetown Blues, Thredbo Blues, Bimbadgen Blues, Goulburn Blues, and Maldon Folk festivals. She next moved to northern Queensland and played the Cairns circuit before playing the 2005 Tamworth festival, which spawned a full noise tour of Australia.
Swain had lately played festivals including the Barra Bash, the Port Fairy Folk Festival, performed at the Cygnet Sunday Market and Cygnet Folk Festival and played Sydney concert support for Don Walker, fellow Australian songwriter and Cold Chisel band member, for whom guitarist Payne also plays.
The Toni Swain Band play King Street Live on March 7 and tickets, available through eventfinda.co.nz, cost $15.