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'Made My Dream Achievable': Kaylee Bell On Providing Opportunities For Women In Country

May 21, 2024 - News

In the wake of her much anticipated new full-length LP, Nights Like This, released on March 15, Kaylee Bell is about to embark upon the Australian leg of her Australian and New Zealand tour.

Playing more than 15 shows across the two countries, this tour is monumental for Bell, who grew up in New Zealand and emerged as an artist in Australia. 

The esteemed country musician is coming off the back of selling over 10,000 tickets at her shows in New Zealand and racking up the title of most streamed female country artist in Australasia for the past four years running.

What’s more, in the first two months of its release, Nights Like This reached Number 1 on the all-genre album charts in New Zealand. 

For these reasons, as well as the numerous accolades she has been awarded, including being named the 2024 Female Golden Guitar winner, Bell is fast emerging as one of the most loved and prolific country artists in Australasia. 

In Australia, she will perform in the major cities of Brisbane and Melbourne to sold-out crowds and in Sydney to a fast-selling audience. This leg of the tour will see her adorn the stage at renowned venues such as The Brightside, Oxford Arts Factory and Howler. For Bell, it is particularly fulfilling to be once again performing in front of Australian crowds.

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Bell said, “It’s exciting to be bringing the album [Nights Like This] to Australia to tour as well. Australia was probably the first country that allowed me to be an artist. So, it’s going to be so cool to play those songs around Australia next week on tour.”

Yet despite the excitement surrounding the opportunity to perform her new album, Bell is looking forward to providing a platform for other artists, particularly those who identify as women, to share their artistry.

“On the New Zealand tour we had an artist called Navvy, who is a massive pop artist in New Zealand, she’s written for the likes of Rita Ora. She’s one of my favourite songwriters; we wrote a single together that I put out at the start of the year called Life Is Tough (But So Am I). Having her on the New Zealand tour was awesome.

“And then moving into Australia, we’ve got Max Jackson, Melanie Dyer, and Jay Santilli; all three of them are my friends, but they’re also three country artists, and it’s nice to give them a platform to perform. I’m looking forward to touring with and supporting them. Any opportunity I have, I do try and give it to a female.”

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This humility and drive to use her platform as an opportunity to create one for someone else stemmed from Bell’s support as a child wanting to pursue a life spent making music—support that originated in a strong bond with a music teacher and commitment from her parents to aid the pursuit of her dreams.

“We played in talent quests all around New Zealand, and I had an amazing music teacher who used to teach us during the week, and then we’d go and see her play on the weekend. Seeing a female up on stage, even though it was just cover gigs, meant that I became obsessed with music and performing, but it also made my dream more achievable.

“At any chance we could, Mum and Dad would take us to watch a band play. It was something that, from a really young age, I was around seven and eight years old, we were constantly exposed to.

“I learnt with her for ten years. And Mum used to drive us an hour and a half every week to have singing lessons with her. And yeah, she’s still a dear friend. So, I feel really grateful to have had a female act as such a big role model through my childhood.”

Bell has maintained these relationships and experiences, instilling a strong sense of where she came from. So it seemed fitting that for this particular tour, the run of shows was built around homecoming performances in the town she grew up in, Waimate.

“It was so important that we planned the tour around those shows; it was the first stop we had planned. I can recall all the music that we had coming into town as kids, and so I wanted to be able to create the opportunity to potentially change some other child’s life that gets to come and see us play.

“I feel a big responsibility being from a small town to do that and it was just so awesome to see a town like Waimate bring out a big community reception with kids right through to parents to teenagers, the town was absolutely buzzing.”

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It’s unclear what might be next for Bell. It was only last year that she supported Ed Sheeran on his Mathematics tour, yet for now, she is revelling in the opportunity to connect with audiences on this current tour and share the pride she holds in her most recent album release.

Bell said, “I grew up on albums and records and vinyl, so I really am just so excited to have something tangible out in the world. On this particular tour, we’ve been able to sign records, CDs, and merchandise and physically hand them over to fans. It feels like you’re gifting people a piece of you every night, which is really exciting.”

It is this connection with audiences and listeners globally that propels Bell forward, affirming her commitment to her craft.  

“I think it’s a very empowering, uplifting album that I felt like the world needed coming out of COVID. I think getting back to live music was important for people, fans, and artists alike. That uplifting feeling is the tone of this record.”

Bell has achieved so much, yet for an artist from a small town in New Zealand, her story is only beginning.

Kaylee Bell is touring Australia for the first time this week. The Melbourne and Brisbane dates have sold out, but tickets to the Sydney show can be found here.

KAYLEE BELL

Nights Like This Album Tour

THURSDAY 23 MAY – THE BRIGHTSIDE, BRISBANE (MEANJIN) – WITH MELANIE DYER (SOLD OUT)

FRIDAY 24 MAY – OXFORD ART FACTORY, SYDNEY (EORA) – WITH MAX JACKSON

SATURDAY 25 MAY – HOWLER, MELBOURNE (NAARM) – WITH JAY SANTILLI (SOLD OUT)

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