From being cradled as a baby in the arms of Roy Orbison, to performing a duet with Willie Nelson, you would think that Tami Neilson lived a country music fantasy life. However, in between these monumental occurrences, The Neilson Family Band were having to busk in the streets to put food on the table, performing gospel concerts to prisoners, and roaring down the road in an exploding RV to open for Johnny Cash, which Tami managed to do, at 18, in her pajamas.
And then Tami left to start her own family on the other side of the world in New Zealand, where she now resides. Her busking chops took her to the streets of Auckland looking for her big break. From open mic nights to clubs, to headlining theaters and major festivals, Tami has now won almost every NZ music award possible.
2022 now brings Tami’s 5th album, Kingmaker. Recorded at Neil Finn’s Roundhead Studios, Kingmaker was born of the pandemic. A moment when women were struggling. Disproportionately affected by furlough: a “she-cession,” analysts termed it. Women put their dreams and careers on hold to care for their families. The songs of Kingmaker question gender roles and expectations of women in society. She shines a light on the misogyny that pervades the music industry. She sings of the underestimation of women, of their strength, power, and resilience in the face of structural and cultural barriers to their full participation in society.
Tami’s story is at the center of this feminist tapestry: from singing with Kitty Wells at the age of 10, slipping demo tapes into the laundry bags of stars to now singing with Willie Nelson on Kingmaker -- from humble beginnings to success, on her own terms. Tami Neilson is a game changer, a cage shaker, a Kingmaker.