Morinville – It has been 18 years since country singer Brett Kissel got his first guitar, 11 since he cut his first album and began playing country fairs and rodeos with some regularity. That 11-year-old musician / entrepreneur is now a 22-year-old seasoned performer with more than a decade of experience under his leather boots. Kissel will open Morinville’s Light up the Night Festival this weekend with a show at the Morinville Community Cultural Centre Nov. 23 at 8 p.m.
Kissel said concert attendees should expect a high-energy performance. “I’ve been cooped up for the past year not doing a lot of shows because I’ve been exclusively dedicating this year working on my new album,” he said. “So I’ve been back and forth to Nashville. Out of the 11 months we’ve seen come and go of 2012, I’ve been in Nashville for probably six or seven of them. I cannot wait to hit the stage. They’re going to see a very high-energy show and a lot of excitement coming from me now that I get to hit the stage again.”
Born and raised in St. Paul, Kissel said he enjoys playing smaller communities. “To go do a smaller community like Morinville is great because I feel that I’ve got a lot in common with folks from small towns,” he said. “At the same time I don’t mind if I play Calgary, Vegas, Nashville or L.A. I’ve been fortunate to play all those cities, but at this stage in my career, especially being a small town guy, I’m more than happy to come out and play a smaller community.”
Just as Kissel’s venues have gotten bigger over the past 11 years, so too has his album count. The singer released his first album Keeping It Country more than a decade ago and used the profits from the first album to begin working on his next. His new album Started With a Song is his sixth album but the first he is hoping to take international. “I’ve saved enough money to make this my national and international debut,” Kissel said. “I’m really treating this as my first album. I’m treating this as my introduction to the big Canadian country music scene as well as the international country music scene. We’ll be releasing it out of Nashville.”
Kissel said the new album’s name was chosen from one of the album’s tracks, the title inspired by a philosophy the performer learned from his manager. “My manager pounded it into me that hit songs make hit artists and that the most important thing is to be true to yourself and true to your music,” Kissel explained. “That’s why over the past two- / two-and-a-half years I’ve been writing songs. I’ve written over 150 songs for this album. It all starts with a song.”
That wealth of songs has been whittled down to 16 and will probably be whittled down to less than a dozen when the album is released. Kissel said if he had his way he’d keep all 16 on the album.
True to the music
Whatever number of tracks ultimately remains on Started With a Song, they each carry Kissel’s belief in providing his fans with songs with a positive message. “I just want to make sure when people are turning on one of my songs that they can just forget about their troubles and enjoy what they hear,” Kissel said. “I grew up on a cattle ranch in St. Paul. So it’s also very important for me to have an element of true country in there and rural roots. I grew up listening to the classics all my life. I’m only 22 but I’m a real student of traditional country music. So I always want to have an element of that in my music.”
Kissel feels his new album bridges the gap between traditional country and major market country radio. “I just want to make sure when people turn on one of my songs they enjoy what they hear, get a good sense of who I am as a person, and they can forget about their troubles for three-and-a-half minutes at least,” he said.
Residents will have the chance to see Brett Kissel live Nov. 23 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25 for general seating, $20 for seniors and $10 with student ID. For more information visit www.morinvillecommunityculturalcentre.ca.