She took to the stage in her cowboy boots and wowed the judges with her melodies; now Sophie Toyne has added a national country music award to her collection.
The 9-year-old from Whanganui performed in two sold-out shows at Baycourt Theatre in Tauranga on October 5 and 6 which celebrated 40 years of the New Zealand Country Music Association. Sophie was named the 2019 junior overall entertainer.
Ashley Tipping, marketing manager for the New Zealand Country Music Association, said Sophie is incredibly talented.
"She knows the direction she wants to go in as an artist, which at 9 is really rare, so she's definitely one to watch for the future and she has a very bright future I think."
For Sophie's first performance, she sang Wayfaring Stranger by Emmylou Harris and in her second performance, she played her guitar and sang a modern country love song from the TV series Nashville.
New Zealand artists The Topp Twins and Dennis Marsh were the guest performers for the event.
The competition runs seven affiliated country music awards throughout New Zealand every year.
Singers can perform all forms of country music including western, gospel, country rock, new country and singer-songwriter.
They can enter as many categories as they like, with two from each category - junior, intermediate, senior, veteran and singer-songwriter - selected to compete in the finals.
Sophie was the junior overall winner at the Aotearoa Country Music Awards in Palmerston North in August, giving her entry into the national final.
It also gave her automatic entry into the 2020 New Zealand Country Music Association Entertainer of the Year.
Tipping said Sophie has been singing since age 5 and started with a variety of music before gravitating towards country music in the past few years.
She teaches herself how to play new songs on her ukulele and guitar and can be found busking on the streets of Whanganui so she can buy more music equipment.
Sophie is part of the Wanganui Country Music Club, a group anyone can join, Tipping said.
"People tend to think it's just hay bales and western music but it's not that any more, it's really cool and modern."
There is a local country music club where people can sing with the band and from there they can enter competitions and go to country music festivals, Tipping said.