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Singing out loud . . . John McCabe takes some time out to strum his guitar. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Oamaru man John McCabe is just passionate about music.

Over the years, the singer-songwriter has recorded with the likes of Shania Twain, Michelle Wright and Stevie Wonder, and he has just signed a new record deal with a Nashville company.

His career as a musician started when he was 12.

At that age, McCabe often performed alongside his mother, Joyce McCabe, at live shows across North Otago.

Many of the songs that were performed had been written by the young musician himself.

“It was a wonderful era,” he recalled.

“Everyone knew Joyce McCabe – she was an amazing lady.”

His main inspirations for becoming a singer-songwriter were country singers John Hall, Marty Robbins and Tom T. Hall.

In 1981, he took a leap of faith by venturing to Canada to further his music career.

“It was only supposed to be a wee look around but it turned out to be 14 years,” he said.

While in Canada, McCabe gained recognition for his skills in singing and songwriting which helped him secure several musical contracts.

He returned to New Zealand briefly but his love for North America could not be tamed, so he decided to shift back to Canada for several more years.

Most of his time in Canada was spent on the road touring and performing in various locations with his own bands.

“The miles were phenomenal. You might be talking 1500 miles [2400km] between gigs.”

During his time in Canada, he landed what he considers the “best job of his life” as a full-time musician at a bar near the United States border.

McCabe signed with New Jersey-based record company Banner Records, which led to an “incredible” rodeo tour across 17 states.

Family commitments brought him back to Oamaru 13 years ago.

McCabe said his recent record deal with Nashville-based Lamon Records was an important milestone in his career. Trying to sign a deal with a record label was the hardest part about working in show business, he said.

He performs at clubs and private functions, and has a gig at the Oamaru Club at the end of this month.