When I was a kid it seemed like all of the country stars were old. Yes, my opinion of old was skewed, but even so, the hit makers weren’t in their early twenties and actively connecting to a young audience.
But the times they are a changing, especially in Canada where we have a bevy of young country stars making a name for themselves with great albums, killer live shows, #1 hits, and gold singles.
I’ve been lucky to meet and talk to a few of these new hit makers in the last 2 years, and I’ve seen even more of them on stage doing what they love – and what they’re really good at. It’s become clear to me that the future of Canadian country music is bright and it’s becoming clearer every day that the future is also here right now.
Born 1990: 24 years old – Flat Lake, Alberta
2 time winner at the 2014 CCMA Awards – CMT Video of the Year “3,2,1” & Interactive Artist of the Year
Brett Kissel is country to the bone. Born and raised on a cattle ranch in Alberta, he started making records in his early teens and has now hit the mainstream with his first major label release with Started With A Song. He is also one of the most polite young men you will ever meet in your life. We met Brett at Boots & Hearts 2014 before he took to the stage at the Coors Banquet Kick Off Party and he was ridiculously welcoming and accommodating while we chatted, I asked questions and Trish took pictures on the bus.
Kissel is also a bonafide hit maker with three Top Ten hits already coming from his debut release (Started With A Song, Raise Your Glass, 3,2,1) and another on the way to the Top Ten right now with his current single, Tough People Do. His dedication to his craft and his fans is immediately identifiable in his interviews, social media presence and live shows.
It’s not at all a stretch to imagine seeing Brett Kissel on award show stages and country music charts for many years to come in the same way that we’ve seen Gord Bamford and Paul Brandt.
Born 1990: 24 years old – Langenburg, Saskatchewan
2014 CCMA Award winner – Female Artist of the Year
1st female gold single in Canada since Shania Twain – Cheap Wine and Cigarettes
Jess Moskaluke has taken Canadian country radio by storm – and it’s turning into the start of what should be a long, successful career in country music. Starting in small town Saskatchewan, Moskaluke worked hard to build a fanbase on her YouTube channel in the lead up to her debut album release, recording covers of popular songs while mixing in her own songs to start things off.
But now, with the success of Cheap Wine and Cigarettes, Jess has cemented herself as one of the biggest and brightest new voices in Canada. At the 2014 CNE we talked to Tim Hicks who told us that Jess would make a great Female of the Year winner because of her work ethic and the fact that Cheap Wine and Cigarettes might be the biggest song of the summer. He wasn’t wrong and the surprised – but deserving Moskaluke was called to the stage in Edmonton to accept her 1st CCMA award.
What comes next only Jess knows, but Light Up The Night is a really good country album and I have a feeling the next one, and the one after that are going to be just as good – and maybe even better.
Born 1993: 21 years old – Ottawa, Ontario
2 time CCMA Award winner – 2012 Rising Star, 2013 Female Artist of the Year
Kira Isabella’s first album, Love Me Like That, hit shelves in 2011 when she was just 18 years old – but very ready to start her country music career. In the 3 years since she has landed herself in the Top Twenty 4 times (Songs About You, Blame It On Your Truck, Quarterback, Gone Enough) and released 2 more that probably should have charted looking back (A Little More Work and my personal favourite, A Real Good Radio).
At the age of 21 Isabella is already a two time CCMA Award winner, including Female Artist of the Year in 2013 and she was nominated in the category again in 2014. If she continues on the track she’s on now it will not surprise me at all to find out that she’s been nominated for the award seven times in ten years when we take a look back when Kira turns 30.
Kira Isabella’s second album, Caffeine & Big Dreams comes out on October 14, 2014 and I’m willing to bet that there are more singles to come from that album that make their way into the Canadian country music Top Twenty.
Born 1990: 24 years old – Medicine Hat, Alberta
3 time CCMA Award nominee – 2013 Discovery Award & Rising Star, 2014 Female Artist of the Year
MacKenzie Porter comes from a musical family that includes her brother, former Canadian Idol winner, Kalan and that resulted in her learning music at an early age. Now 24 years old, MacKenzie has taken her musical and acting talents to heights that many of us only dream about. Appearing on AMC’s Hell On Wheels, and taking 2 of her first 3 singles to the Top Twenty (Never Gonna Let You, If You Ask Me To) with her latest single, Misfit Parade, on the way to doing the same, or better – Miss Porter is well on her way to a successful career in Canada and the United States. In fact, of all the young Canadian country stars, she may have the best chance to break into the US market, using her acting credits to get her fiddle in the door.
Porter hasn’t picked up her 1st CCMA Award yet, but it’s coming – and with three nominations at the 2014 British Columbia Country Music Awards (Female Vocalist of the Year, Ray McAuley Horizon Award, Single of the Year) I find it hard to believe that she’s going to go home empty handed on the year.
Keep an eye and ear open for MacKenzie Porter in the coming years, she’s not going anywhere – and it already seems like she’s finding a way to be everywhere.
One More Girl
Britt McKillip – Born 1991: 23 years old – Vancouver, British Columbia
Carly McKillip – Born 1989: 25 years old – Vancouver, British Columbia
2010 CCMA Rising Star Award winner & Group or Duo of the Year nominee
The sisters McKillip are dynamic on stage, pump out music videos like it’s nobody’s business and have cracked the Top Forty with each of their last three singles (Run Run Run, Love Like Mine, Drunk Heart) on Canadian country radio.
We saw their set at Boots & Hearts 2014 and loved the way they shared the stage with each other, had a whole lot of fun, and played to the crowd from start to finish. Britt and Carly are clearly enjoying their music career and if I were to start making guesses and predictions, I’d say that we’re going to see them a lot more moving forward – with more charting singles and nominations at the CCMA Awards.
Special mention: Trinity Bradshaw, Jordan McIntosh, The Reklaws, Lindsay Ell, Wes Mack, Lindsay Broughton, Leah Daniels.
It’s interesting to note the abundance of young female talent in Canadian country music at a time when Bro-Country has been dominating the charts and it’s hard to find a lot a of women on the US charts at all. Maybe Canada will lead the way in a resurgence of female country popularity that a lot of people are hoping for.
Either way, we’ve got some great young country acts in Canada right now that are paving the way for the future of country music in this country – and if they keep up the work that they’ve been doing – I don’t think Canadian country music fans are going to have anything to complain about for quite a while!