I'm Just a Country Girl at Heart
Biography Gail Russell, Wellington, New Zealand Gail was born into a musical background with both her parents being very good musicians and singers. She was brought up on a small sheep and dairy farm 25 miles north of New Plymouth on the West Coast of New Zealand. On this farm she was surrounded by the music of Doris Day, Rosemary Clooney, Hank Snow, Jim Reeves and other American Artists of that era. Gail recalls many evenings spent with her parents listening to these artists on their old gramophone which took pride of place in the family lounge. Gail also remembers her father playing a small piano accordion and says he was very good as was her mother who played the piano. Her Mother, the Superintendent of the local Sunday School taught songs like 'Shall we gather at the river' and Tell me the old old story' to many children including herself from the small farming community. She says those songs have influenced her love of country music for what it is today. Gail's first solo performance was at a primary school concert in 1961 at the age of 11 and from that time she knew that singing was to be a big part of her life. At New Plymouth Girls' High School, she took voice lessons, competed in singing competitions, sang in school productions and she also sang in the Baptist Church Choir . When she attended Palmerston North Teachers College she continued with voice training and anticipated becoming an Opera singer but that did not eventuate as marriage and children came along. After 15 years away from her hometown Gail returned to New Plymouth where she joined a country music club, brought an Ovation Guitar and started to learn some country songs. After a year singing at the clubs she was invited to join a dance band with two musicians from Iceland who had both come to New Zealand to live. They were both very good musicians and gave Gail the chance to gain experience entertaining at clubs, RSA's and country dances. This band was very popular and there was no shortage of work for them. Gail says the money she earned then also helped a lot when her children were at High School. In 1991,Gail moved to Wellington where she joined other Country Music Clubs and she joined another dance band. The Band Lystica was also in demand and so she spent a good part of the 90s' singing with this band at the same sort of venues as she had back in her homeland of Taranaki. It was during the early 90's that Gail started competing in Country Music Awards and success soon arrived as she gained placings at various awards around the lower part of the North Island. On one occasion when she got an entry form in the mail she noticed a section for original song writing. Gail had not written any songs before and thought it would be nice to write something for her elderly Mother hence her first song 'My Mother's Love is More Precious Than Gold was written. She got runner up with this song and this gave her the inspiration to start writing more original songs. In 2002 she won a song writing award with a song she had written for her nieces wedding and so at this time she was persuaded by friends to start recording some of her songs,thus her album 'I'm Just A Country Girl at Heart' ' came to being. To date the album has done very well and has taken her very high on the World Indie Charts, In August she came in at no 4 On The World Most played Artist Chart and at no 3 On Joyce Ramgatie's top 200. The album is very easy to listen to with a great variety of songs. It has been very well produced by Geoff Duncan of Gherkin Productions, Wellington.