I’m no Ferdinand Magellan, but thanks to attending events during Country Music Week, I’ve made some very satisfying discoveries. I’m talking about new music, er… well, at least new to me.
In addition to drawing big name talent to Edmonton, for the 2014 CCMA Awards, Country Music Week showcases a multitude of amazing performers that are working hard to hone their skills, build their fan base, and become the next big thing. A lot of effort goes into making it look effortless, and it usually takes years to become an instant success. Here are my top ten discoveries from the events surrounding this year’s CCMA Awards:
Codie Prevost has been nominated for 3 CCMA Awards in the last four years, including this year’s nomination for Album of the year – All Kinds of Crazy. Not being real familiar with Codie’s work prior to Country Music Week, I am proud to say that I have become a true Codie fan. He’s a talented songwriter, and he knows how to connect with audiences, whether he’s rocking the house with All Kinds of Crazy, or bringing a tear to your eye with the heart wrenching I’m Okay.
Mackenzie Porter is a classically trained violinist, accomplished actress, and is ready to make a big name for herself in country music. She’s quickly become one of @OscarCares favourites, as he bought her debut studio album at Fanfest. In addition to Oscar’s endorsement, her 2014 CCMA nomination for Female Artist of the Year, follows her 2013 Rising Star nomination. Seeing her perform at the Legends concert with the graceful and ageless Michelle Wright, tells me that Mackenzie will become as big a name as she chooses to be.
Quentin Reddy, whom I’ve mentioned previously on this site, has had a good taste of the spotlight, making the top two in CMT’s “Big In A Small Town”. On his debut album, Diamond in the Rough, Quentin co-wrote nine of the eleven tracks, including my favourite, a rockin’-country song, Moonlight Ride. It could become a workingman’s anthem.
Madeline Merlo has just released her self-titled, debut EP; With the driving, inspiring, song Alive well positioned to follow up her first single, the beautifully melancholy Sinking Like a Stone, this adorable little mermaid not only has a great voice, but confidence and maturity beyond her years. Another of @OscarCares favourites, Madeline surely has a bright future ahead.
The Command Sisters give me pause to ask how do two girls, so young, have such polish and presence? I saw Charlotte and Sarah perform at the CBC studio, and again at the Alberta Music Showcase at the Westin, and was bowled over by the richness of sound they produced with their harmonies and two acoustic guitars. Wow! You should go to TheCommandSisters.com and check out what they’re up to, but don’t compare your life accomplishments with those of their young lives, or you’ll wonder what you’ve been doing with all your time.
Brett Kissel and Gary Fjellgaard Okay, we’ve all heard of Brett Kissel, after all he led the way with 8 CCMA award nominations this year, with Brett winning Interactive Artist of the Year, and Video of the Year for 3-2-1. What I didn’t know until the Legends concert, when he performed with Gary Fjellgaard, was the reverence he has for the roots of modern country, and his respect for previous generations of artists. I wish I could have found video of that performance, but at least I found footage of Mr. Fjellgaard performing Dance With This Old Cowboy. Enjoy.
Leah Daniels is the winner of the 2014 CCMA Spotlight Performance Contest, a fan-voted contest hosted online by the CCMA. I saw her perform at the Countdown concert prior to the Awards show, and am willing to bet we’ll hear a great deal more from her in the coming years.
Wes Mack – By the time Wes was selected as the winner of the Canadian Country Music Association Discovery Award in September of 2013, he already had built an impressive resume as a young entertainer, appearing in film and television, as well as garnering international attention for his music. With no apparent end to his talents in sight, Wes has also directed all of his own music videos.
Cory Marquardt hits on a very contemporary topic with his single Smartphone; I’ve often wondered why they’re called smartphones, when people do such stoopid things with them? Cory looks like he might be trying out for a spot in Metallica, but his music rocks country style, and he’s got a song called I Need A Beer. So what’s not to like?
One More Girl is two girls, duh. Britt and Carly McKillip, are another pair of multi-talented siblings, and previous winners of CCMA’s Rising Star (2010). Full of energy and confidence, with an edgy feel to their music, these sisters find themselves poised to make a big impact on the country music scene. Below, you can check out the video for Love Like Mine (directed by a guy named Wes Mack).
Honestly, the list could keep going, but David Letterman does a Top Ten List, so I do a Top Ten List.
But if you get the chance, you might also want to check out Samara Yung, and Ryan Bradley.