Kiwi singing star covers US legend for TV drama

Ricardo Simich. ,
Spy News,
Publish Date
Saturday, 3 November 2018, 10:48AM
Tami Neilson. Photo / Supplied
Tami Neilson. Photo / Supplied

With a soulful voice straight from the golden age of country and rockabilly, 2018 NZ Music Awards nominee and four-time NZ Music Award winner Tami Neilson is bringing Crazy back.

Having just returned from a sell-out European tour, Neilson, 41, who is a nominee in the Best Album and Best Solo Artist at this year’s NZ Music Awards, has also managed to find time to record a cover of Willie Nelson’s legendary tune Crazy, which will feature on the special 20th episode of The Brokenwood Mysteries.

The episode, this month on Prime, is set in an asylum and follows the team of detectives as they interrogate previous patients of the institution to sniff out a motive for a cold-blooded, revenge-style murder. Neilson’s soulful cover is the perfect accompaniment to the spooky, celebration episode.

The hit NZ-made show has a massive international audience and now plays in 16 different countries worldwide, to cumulative audiences of more than 8 million people per episode.

Its international success has had an impact on all those involved, including Neilson, who discovered during her recent European tour that a significant number of people coming along to her shows had heard of her music via The Brokenwood Mysteries, which has been a great juxtaposition for her lilting songs.

“It was amazing to be playing in towns in Spain and Germany and for fans in the audience to come up after and say, ‘we loved your music in The Brokenwood Mysteries’,” she says. “It makes you appreciate how universal music can be and how it brings people together. It also made me proud for the show and the fact that we can make things in NZ that are loved the world over.”

The Canadian-born, Kiwi-based country music star and her brother Jay Neilson have had a long relationship with the crime show, contributing music to all five seasons. The international appeal has also been beneficial for others in the show. Actress Fern Sutherland, who plays leading female DI Kristen Sims, is working in Canada and Nic Sampson, who plays DC Breen, has moved to London.

“I didn’t realise how popular the show was until I went overseas,” Sutherland says. “I walk down the street pretty anonymously in New Zealand, which is nice and chill. But I get asked for autographs and pictures fairly regularly in the most unlikely overseas locations. At first, I always think they’ve confused me with someone else, but then they say, ‘You’re Detective Sims from Brokenwood’.”