July 24th, 2014 | Comments off
When you come from a place called Flat Lake, Alberta, it’s pretty tough to get noticed. For Brett Kissel, it’s pretty tough to be ignored.The 23-year-old singer/songwriter has released two independent albums, sold out countless shows, and earned two Canadian Country Music Association Award nominations, becoming its youngest nominee ever. Brett Kissel is now ready to release his major label debut album through Warner Music Canada, Started With A Song.Co-produced by Kissel with Ted Hewitt (Rodney Atkins) and CCMA Award-winner Bart McKay, Started With A Song is an exhilarating collection of music that can be best described as the New Wave of Old Country: each song a slice of real-life sentiment; emotional touchstones that run the gamut of highs and lows and explore such subjects as deep love, trying moments and poignant reflection, measured out by hell-raising good times and a sense that something special is happening here.
Listening to the rousingly playful title track, the invigoratingly catchy “321” and the modern country gem “Something You Just Don’t Forget,” it is no wonder why Bob Doyle, the manager behind Garth Brooks and The Band Perry, proceeded to sign Brett to a co-management and publishing deal upon meeting him in Nashville.
Kissel makes it clear how personal these songs really are with tracks like “Country In My Blood” – written about the Alberta cattle ranch that has been in his family for over a century – the poignant true-life tale of his grandparents in the moving ballad “Together (Grandma and Grandpa’s Song)” and “Girl In A Cowboy Hat,” an upbeat song about potential romance.
Last summer, Kissel headlined Canada’s largest country music festival – Big Valley Jamboree in Camrose, Alberta. After a late set and a long autograph line, he returned home to the ranch at 3 a.m. At 6:45 a.m. there was a knock on his bedroom door. It was his grandfather (“who we affectionately call Grandpa Bear”).
“I said, ‘Grandpa, I’d really like to sleep in. I just played Big Valley Jamboree last night and I’ve only had two hours of sleep.’ And he said, ‘Wake up, because you’re no country star on the farm!’
Kissel realized at that moment, “My Grandpa was right. No matter what I do, even if it’s playing in front of 25,000 people, once I get home, work needs to get done. It doesn’t matter who I am onstage.”
It’s a much different kind of work when he hits the road, which he does often. An energetic and electrifying performer, Kissel plays upwards of 150 shows a year.
His parents remind him that he’s been an attention-seeker his whole life. “I craved the spotlight. Any opportunity to stand up on the couch and belt out a tune when I was 3 or 4 years old, I always took.”
When his grandmother bought him a Sears-catalogue guitar just before his 7th birthday, Kissel’s fate was sealed.
“It was this deep-rooted passion inside of me. When I was 10 years old, I was playing three-chord Johnny Cash songs at talent shows, but singing them two octaves higher than his deep baritone voice.
“When I was 12 and I got a $50 honourarium to play for a local 4H club – I realized I could do this for a living,” he chuckles. “Usually it took me two birthdays and a really generous tooth fairy to make $50. And I made that in 20 minutes just playing and singing songs? I was over the moon.”
Kissel continued to perform at various agrarian events and celebrations, even being paid for one concert with a pure bred bull.
Influenced by the likes of Johnny Cash, Glen Campbell, Buck Owens and George Strait, Brett Kissel is still very much his own man: a dynamic, charismatic performer, singer and songwriter and ready to make an imposing impression on the global country music scene with Started With A Song.
“I write music that’s true to myself, about experiences that I’ve had in my young age,” Kissel declares, “and it’s my hope that the fans and all the people listening are either touched by it or can escape wherever they need to escape from for three-and-a-half minutes.
“I’ve been working on these songs for three years, and cannot wait to begin making new fans by playing around the world.”
When he finally reaches that goal – and you know that Brett Kissel has the confidence, determination and talent to pull it off – remember, of course, that it all Started With A Song.
July 16th, 2014 | Comments off
A successful singer, songwriter, actress, model, and television host, Beverley Mahood is truly a dynamic entertainer.
Though in many respects a seasoned veteran of the entertainment industry, Mahood’s career is set for a new beginning in 2013. An exclusive management deal with Nashville-based All Entertainment promises a new foray for Mahood into the competitive US market, a step she has been preparing for since the release of her award-winning debut album in 1998.
“There was something so exciting about releasing that first album,” says Mahood of her debut CD Girl Out of the Ordinary. “Dreams were big and possibilities seemed endless. That excitement is back. With my new partnership with Brad Allen (of All Entertainment) it’s like starting out all over again, beginning a brand new chapter in my life and my career.”
Successful chapters of Mahood’s past musical journey include Lace (1999), Moody Blue (2004), and Unmistakable (2009), each album as diverse and acclaimed as the entertainer herself.
“Each album I’ve done is reflective of the time of my life in which I recorded it,” says Mahood. “My music is the story of my life. It’s honest and real. I don’t ever hide behind misleading lyrics. As a performer and individual, I have my own style and would like to be considered a strong woman with something intelligent to say through a heartfelt sound.”
Beverley’s firm belief that everything in music starts with the song enables her to approach her songwriting with an unequalled passion and appreciation for the craft. (Mahood penned “Come to Me,” a song recorded by Celine Dion for her platinum-selling “Miracle” album in 2004.) Lessons about love, loss, and personal growth are all part of Beverley’s musical mix, issues that she has explored as much for her own sake as for the sake of her audience.
That loyal listening audience broadened in 2004 when Beverley began hosting CityTV’s BT Television in Vancouver. Beverley has since become one of CMT Canada’s most popular personalities, hosting several series for the network, including CMT Central, Karaoke Star, Ultimate, Project Mom/Project Dad and now, the runaway hit Pick A Puppy, a family-oriented series heading into its third season on CMT, YTV and The W Network.
“Hosting television has brought me closer to what people really care about,” says Beverley. “I’ve found that the more you share with them, the more they will grow with you.” Beverley’s latest foray on the small screen is a made-for-television movie that was filmed in Nashville earlier this year. She plays Anneliese, the lead character in Changing Seasons, an emotional and heartfelt story of a devoted single mom looking for a fresh start. The movie, directed by Jason Dallas and co-starring Dan Cortese, will air in late 2013.
If there’s anything that rivals Beverley’s passion for entertaining, it’s her dedication to community. Closest to Beverley’s heart are initiatives for children. She is a devoted supporter of Juvenile Diabetes, the Alberta Children’s Hospital, and the David Foster Foundation. She is currently the national spokesperson for the Pink Mitten Campaign (www.pinkmitten.com) in support of breast cancer research. And remarkably, 2013 will mark Beverley’s 16th year hosting the Kinsmen Foundation’s annual Telemiracle Telethon ( www.telemiracle.com), which raises millions for those in need in the province of Saskatchewan.
In the past couple of years, Mahood has performed for some very exclusive audiences, including the G8 World Leaders in Toronto, British Royals William and Kate (on their first official trip to North America,) for the men and women of the Canadian military during a two-week tour of Afghanistan, and most recently for a crowd of hundreds of thousands as host of the CBC Canada Day Celebrations on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.
Beverley now resides full time in Nashville, Tennessee, and is putting the final touches on an album set for release early this year.
“The music is definitely me,” says Mahood. “It is honest, it is real, it is inspired and I think people will appreciate that. I am beginning a new chapter in my life and career. Have you ever had a dream come true? I have! Now, dreams and opportunities seem endless and achievable.”
July 9th, 2014 | Comments off
Crop Circles, Dean Brody says, is an album he hopes will take listeners away from the cares of daily life for a while. “When we listen to music, we don’t necessarily want to think about what’s going on in the here and now, we want to go on a journey, and I hope that’s what happens for my fans with this record.”
Job done – On songs like ‘The Old Sandbar’ and ‘Mountain Man,’ the Jaffray, BC born, Nova Scotia-based singer/songwriter celebrates his love of the East Coast and his childhood home at the foot of the Rockies and, with his Civil War era love story, ‘Kansas Cried,’ transports listeners through time and space without missing a beat.
Crop Circles covers a lot of miles and nowhere more so than on Brody’s lead single, ‘Bounty,’ a fiery, turn of the century, murder ballad that finds Brody’s characters running from the law on a late night train to Mexico and features a standout performance by fellow Canadian country singer, Lindi Ortega. In it’s first week of release, ‘Bounty’ held the #1 Most Added song overall and #1 Most Added spot at Country radio for two consecutive weeks and displays Brody’s growth as a writer, lyricist and storyteller in equal measure with a story that has both substantial emotional weight and a certain amount of levity. ‘Bounty’ recently reached #1 on the Canadian Country singles chart!
Regardless of the topic or whether a song is purely observational or drawn from his personal experience, Brody’s music has a cinematic quality that makes it easy for listeners to put themselves into his songs and to feel as if they’re traveling along with his characters. “I see the world in pictures and I love stories and creating worlds, either using my own background, or by putting myself in other people’s shoes, because I’m fascinated by other people’s perspectives on life.”
Although Crop Circles finds Brody adopting a darker, rock-fuelled tone, it also showcases his ample sense of humour and his unique ability to weave a fine yarn, regardless of where or when a song takes place. Nowhere is that more evident than on the album’s title track, which offers up a plausible and hilarious solution to the longstanding mystery of how crop circles are actually created and the fact that they might have more to do with country boys taking their dates on a joy ride through a farmer’s fields than with aliens visiting Earth. “I am trying to have more fun on this record,” Brody says, “and ‘Crop Circles’ is a perfect example. It’s a crazy song that just got crazier when we went into the studio, and when we do it live it goes up a notch again.”
“I love shaking things up musically and lyrically,” he continues. “I wasn’t just influenced by George Jones and Merle Haggard, but by bands like AC/DC, Aerosmith, The Kentucky Headhunters and all kinds of artists, so those influences play a role in what I do and I’m lucky to have fans who’ll let me explore them.”
Truth to tell, Brody shakes it up right from the album’s opener, ‘Four Wheel Drive,’ a song that sets the record straight for anyone who might be tempted to turn their nose up at someone because of what they look like or where they call home. “What’s most important is being good to other people and ‘Four Wheel Drive’ is about the idea that you don’t have to rub elbows with high society to be popular with the ladies. You just have to romantic and be a good guy.”
That belief is heavily informed by Brody’s life experience and specifically his childhood growing up in Jaffray, BC, where he worked in the local sawmill prior to and during his pursuit of a career as a singer/songwriter. But it’s also a product of the fact that, in Brody’s experience, in order to find your true place in the world, often, you may need to cover a fair number of miles yourself.
That was certainly the case when Brody was chasing his own musical dreams. Shortly after moving to Nashville in 2004, Brody found himself unable to work in the US legally and seriously considered giving up on music entirely. Owing to the intervention of producer, Matt Rovey, (with whom Brody has worked with on all of his albums to date), Brody got the chance to record his self-titled debut. The album’s lead single ‘Brothers’ was a hit in the US and Canada and garnered Brody multiple CCMA Award nominations as well as the 2009 CCMA Award for Single of the Year.
Later that year Brody relocated to Nova Scotia’s south shore and signed a deal with Canada’s Open Road Recordings, on which he released his sophomore record, Trail In Life (2010), and his hugely successful 2012 follow up, Dirt, both of which won the CCMA Award for Album of the Year in 2011 and 2012, respectively. Additionally, Dirt’s lead single, ‘Canadian Girls,’ became the first track by a Canadian artist to hit #1 on the Canadian Country Chart since 2008. Dirt also yielded two #1 videos on CMT, two certified Gold singles (for ‘Canadian Girls’ and ‘It’s Friday’ – featuring Great Big Sea), and earned Brody the title of most played Canadian Artist on country radio in 2011 and 2012. Both records were also nominated for JUNO Awards in the category of Country Album of the Year. In all, Brody has been nominated for twenty-six CCMA Awards and recently took home the 2013 CCMA Award for Male Artist of the Year for the second consecutive year.
While Brody, like any songwriter, spends a great deal of time getting his songs just so, on record they sound so honest and immediate, it seems like he’s singing them for the first time. It’s a unique talent and one that’s been a hallmark of his songwriting from day one. But regardless of how far Brody takes listeners on Crop Circles, he takes care to bring them back home again on tracks like ‘Back To The Front Porch’ and ‘Little Things About Us,’ songs that find Brody giving thanks for the joys of home and family and reminding listeners where his own heart lives. “It’s the little things that are special when you’re in love. The things that make you feel nostalgic are usually small and, as time goes on in a relationship, they’re what you appreciate and remember.” Also, he adds: “It’s the little things you often draw on for support when you have to work out larger issues in love and life.”
On Crop Circles, whether a song is specifically about Dean Brody’s own life or not, he displays a singular talent for crafting stories so well lived in they sound like he’s experienced every second of every line, which makes it that that much easier for his audience to see themselves and their own lives and loves reflected in his music.