When it comes to country music, Canada has always seemingly played second fiddle (no pun intended) to the United States. The fact is however, Canada has given the world an impressive number of country music stars:
Shania Twain is arguably the best known Canadian country music export of the last 20 years but Terri Clark, Anne Murray and Hank Snow have also made rather significant contributions to the genre.
Though it may be a little premature or unfair to cast lofty expectations upon his shoulders, Alberta’s Brett Kissel just might be the next great Canadian country music star.
After four independently released albums, the first of which was released in 2003 when Brett was 12 years old, the musician signed a recording contract with Warner Music Canada last year. His major label debut, Started With A Song, was released on October 1.
The album’s first single, “Started With A Song” became a Top 5 Canadian Country radio hit and vaulted to the top of CMT’s Top 20 Countdown a month before the record came out. A month after the album’s release, he found himself performing alongside Big & Rich at Grey Cup 101 in Regina.
2014 started with Brett winning two Association Of Country Music in Alberta Awards; one for Rising Star of the Year while “Started With A Song” won Single Of The Year. At the start of February, more acclaim came rolling in for Brett when he secured five Edmonton Music Award nominations along with two Juno Award nominations.
Performing at the iRock tonight, Brett is typically Canadian (ie: disarmingly kind) when it comes to discussing his rise through the ranks of Canadian country music.
“The past year has been incredibly exciting for me,” Brett begins from a Kingston, Ontario tour stop. “I’m only 23 years old but feel like I have been training for this for a while. It’s like I’ve been called up to the major leagues from the minors. The stakes are higher but I have never had more fun either.
“I am very lucky to have gotten such an early start in country music. I have an amazing fan base and people that support me. The fact that people are coming to see us play live and listening to what I have to say, I want to do my best to portray an image that I can be proud of.”
Brett attributes his down-to-earth attitude to his parents and his grandparents. Raised on a cattle ranch in Flat Lake, Alberta, Brett recognizes the importance of remaining down to earth. He jokes that were he to return to his parents’ home, it wouldn’t be two minutes before he was out in the field chasing cattle.
Doing those drop-ins isn’t quite as cut and dry for the budding star, however. Late last year, after realizing how much money and time he was investing in traveling to Nashville, he and his wife decided to permanently relocate to Music City.
“Things are terrific in Nashville. I realized that it was important for me to be immersed in the industry itself. So far, I am enjoying everything about being in Nashville. I have already developed some incredible friendships and have had the opportunity to connect with some great songwriters. To have such incredible talent surrounding me, it really lights a fire under me to want to elevate my profile.”
While he is almost outright amazed to have had his record receive such a warm response, his Juno Award nominations (and scheduled live performance during the awards show) are a great source of pride for the singer. Even in the event that he doesn’t go home with the awards, he is simply elated to have been invited to the game.
“I have watched the Juno Awards every year since I can remember,” he says. “To go from never having even attended a ceremony to going, being nominated and performing at the awards is just incredible. There are so many times that I have to count my blessings and pinch myself to know that it’s not a dream.”
Will this landmark opportunity be the impetus for Brett’s head getting slightly larger? He doesn’t see that happening. And if it does, he says his grandfather will be all too happy to bring him back down to earth:
“My grandfather could care less about music and Juno Award nominations,” he laughs. “But, along with the rest of my family, he is also very proud of how far I have come.”
What: Brett Kissel with special guests One More Girl
When: Friday Mar. 7, 8:00 p.m.
Where: iRock Moncton, 415 Elmwood Dr., Moncton
Tickets are $22.50 plus taxes and service fees. Advance tickets are available for purchase online at www.ticketbreak.com