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Donna Dean Wins Top Country Awards

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Voxy Newswire
Voxy Newswire
Donna Dean
Donna Dean

She has opened for Don McLean of American Pie fame and her creativity has been likened to that of Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen. Now Auckland’s Donna Dean has taken out the nation’s two highest honours in country music writing and recording.

At the nation’s biggest country music awards night the award-winning singer-songwriter has taken home awards for both the RIANZ Best Country Music Album and the APRA Best Country Music Song of 2011 at the New Zealand Country Music Awards in Gore.

Donna’s fifth album ‘What Am I Gonna Do?’ won out over The Brendon Ham Band’s ‘The Live-Demo's’ and Jackie Bristow’s ‘Freedom’ in the best album category.

In the best country song category, Donna’s album’s title track has been judged ahead of Jackie Bristow’s ‘Freedom’ and Tami Neilson and Lauren Thomson’s ‘No Good for My Soul’.

‘What Am I Gonna Do?’ is Donna Dean’s first album since 2002. She is swiftly gaining international acclaim, her material has been translated into French and she has toured Germany bi-annually since 1998.

Donna has also worked alongside an impressive list of America's song writing legends including Don McLean, Russell Smith & The Amazing Rhythm Aces and Willie Nelson.

The liner notes to Donna’s album tell a story of a woman who has had her fair share of challenges and triumphs - leaving home at 15, children, marriage, divorce and then growing success on the country music scene.

Referencing such a background, Donna’s songs become “snap shots of observation of the human condition” according to her bio information from the best country album award entry.

Her writing broaches co-dependency, dementia, long distance relationships, deceit, gratitude and more in “day-to-day events we all relate to”.

Donna has personally financed every album she’s recorded by working in low paid jobs. She also has 20 years of volunteer work to her credit including Refugee Resettlement in Auckland and distributing food to homeless shelters in London.

All 10 original tracks on ‘What Am I Gonna Do?’ are written and performed by Donna Dean and were recorded at Hill Street Studio in the Auckland suburb of Onehunga. Guest musician on the album is Bill Chambers from Australia and it has been released by Ode Records.

Her most recent previous album ‘Money’ was also a winner taking out two awards in 2004, one each for Best Country Album and Best Country Song.

RIANZ managing director Chris Caddick said, “My sincere congratulations to Donna, who has crafted a truly exceptional album with ‘What Am I Gonna Do?’. Here’s hoping the Tui Award helps the album reach the wide audience it deserves.”

Ant Healey, director of New Zealand operations for APRA, says Donna Dean is an outstanding contributor to New Zealand music.

“There isn’t any doubt that Donna thoroughly deserves the dual honours announced tonight at Gore. The fact that Don McLean chose Donna to open his shows on his New Zealand tour last year speaks volumes for the regard she is held among music’s giants.” 

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