I’m on the plane right now heading home from the Canadian Country Music Awards in Winnipeg – and what an incredible weekend it was.
Since my last diary entry less than 2 days ago, I’ve performed at three very different venues. I got to share the stage with my buddy Lisa Brokop for a “girl power” acoustic performance at the SOCAN-sponsored Songwriters’ Cafe on Sunday. Then after the Gala Dinner I was whisked off to perform at the Capitol Records party, where I did a couple of songs with a full band. My set fell in between performances by Darius Rucker (of Hootie and the Blowfish) and Deric Ruttan and Dierks Bentley, so it was kind of like being a rock star for the night, especially hanging out backstage with the guys, who kept me in stitches! It was like a comedy routine back there!
But yesterday proved to be the biggest highlight for me, when I participated in “The Great Guitar Pull”. It was an acoustic performance of hit songs and stories from the writers who wrote them, and the songwriters I shared the stage with were absolutely stellar. Along with my great friend and mentor Ralph Murphy, who hosted the event, four of us were asked to participate: myself, Randy Bachman (of Bachman Turner Overdrive and The Guess Who), Buddy Cannon (legendary songwriter and producer of multi-platinum records by Kenny Chesney, Sara Evans and many more), and the one and only “Whisperin’ Bill Anderson” (who is not only a living legend and a staple of the Grand Ole Opry, but who has also penned hits across 5 decades of his career including most recently “Give It Away” by George Strait and the Grammy-winning Allison Krauss/Brad Paisley duet “Whiskey Lullabye”). I thought I had played with the best of the best when I performed with JD Souther last week, but THIS show found me sitting right next to Randy Bachman and following – get this – “Taking Care Of Business”, “No Sugar Tonight”, “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet”, and “American Woman”. UNBELIEVABLE! I have to say I cried a few tears on stage – it was so surreal to have the honour of performing alongside these incredible men. And my manager was so happy and proud and excited for me that he was in tears too.
Which leads me to the big announcement…I guess at this point I can let the cat out of the bag and let you know that I am being managed by Louis O’Reilly, last year’s CCMA-winning manager who also handles Shane Yellowbird (last year’s CCMA Rising Star) and Brad Johner – a couple of Canada’s best. After heading up the highly successful independent record label 306 Records (this year’s CCMA-winning label of the year), Louis has now founded the EMI co-venture On Ramp Records which is a home for not only Shane and Brad, but also my high school buddy Deric Ruttan. So that will be the Canadian home for my record, which is pending release in early 2009. I am SO excited to be working with Louis – he is not only a very savvy businessman, but he’s also an honest and down-to-earth person, which is a rare and wonderful trait in a manager.
Immediately after the Great Guitar Pull I found myself backstage at the televised CCMA Awards show, rubbing shoulders with the superstars of Canadian country music. Actually after all of the Canadian artists I’ve met in the past couple of years, it felt more like a big reunion…I didn’t really realize how many of my friends were up for awards, but I felt like I was cheering them on all night long: Jason Blaine, Murray Pulver of Doc Walker (congrats to you on your big wins!), Lisa Brokop, Female Artist CCMA winner Jessie Farrell, Deric Ruttan, Crystal Shawanda (who did a gorgeous performance), and Hey Romeo (winner of the Best New Group CCMA – congrats, guys!). Actually one of the songs I co-wrote with Hey Romeo is planned to be their next radio single, so guys, you are my favourite (ha ha!).
During the show I was seated right up at the front, watching the cameras whirl around and listening to the fans scream. How cool. And I sat right next to Buddy Cannon, so during the commercial breaks I got to chat quite a bit with him. He’s such a humble, soft-spoken man – you’d never know he had just finished recording Kenny Chesney’s record!
After the show I was whisked off by my manager to the red carpet, where I did a CMT interview with my “dates” – Buddy Cannon and Whisperin’ Bill Anderson, who was a presenter on the show. Bill, by the way, is so incredibly kind and supportive. A class act. He even asked me if I’d be interested in co-writing with him. Geez, I’ll have to see if I can pencil him in!
The final reception basically summed up what a fantastic weekend this was for me. I may have only had 6 hours of sleep in the past 3 days, but after having arrived on Friday knowing very few people, I felt like I was in a room full of friends. I have met so many radio personalities, booking agents, promoters, corporate sponsors and fans in the past three days – and they have all been so enthusiastic and welcoming to me. I can’t wait to get my record out there so I can go and visit all of them on a big cross-Canada tour.
Well, I think I’m gonna try and catch some shut-eye before I keel over onto the shoulder of the stranger sitting next to me! I can’t wait to get back into songwriting and finishing up the last few tracks on my record. I also can’t wait to my give my boyfriend a big kiss (he is probably just as tired as I am after listening to me gush about everything that went on this weekend in a bunch of 3am phone calls – sorry about that Dave!).