2014 Emerging Artists
NOVEMBER’S XS EMERGING ARTIST OF THE MONTH – RACHEL WOZNOW and AMBRE McLEAN
“A commanding voice combined with a charismatic stage presence” – a statement that best describes Rachel Woznow, an 18 year old, Edmonton born pop singer/songwriter. Her unique sound is vibrant and infectious with a distinctly soulful quality. Rachel sings with a sincerity and maturity rarely found in such a young performer.
Rachel’s distinctive voice and effervescent personality have attracted the attention of highly respected songwriters and producers such as Rob Wells (Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez), SA Trackworks (Elise Estrada, Laura Pausini), Hands Up! Music, Vince Degiorgio of Chapter 2 Productions (Former Vice President of International A&R at RCA Records), Matthew Tishler (Disney/Nickelodeon), and Juno Award-Winning Producer Tyson Kuteyi (Nelly Furtado, Keshia Chante). Her powerful vocals have been likened to many seasoned performers such as Demi Lovato, Kelly Clarkson, and Katy Perry.
Rachel has co-written three tracks with highly acclaimed songwriters/producers Rob Wells, Ron Irving, Cecil Frena, Jimmy Whiffen, Ari Mastoras, and Dan Davidson.
Big & Loud is Rachel’s first national radio release written and produced by award-winning team SA Trackworks and Ron Irving.
The answer to that question begins the moment you hear her sing. It’s something you earn a deeper understanding of as you absorb her songs, or perhaps more accurately – as they absorb you. “Soul” is a word that means different things to different people… Some things need to be felt rather than summed up with words. Some things are better understood by that shiver down your spine, that smile on your face, or that tear that sneaks down your cheek. Whatever soul means to you, experiencing the music of Ambre McLean, may just leave you with a new definition.
A veteran of the Canadian music scene, with her genre defying style and indie approach, McLean has carved her own path along the way. After years of performing with bands Kyn, and Sharon Said, Ambre released her debut solo EP “Just Passing Through” in 2004, showcasing her ever-evolving craft. Since then Ambre has released 3 studio album’s, garnered numerous accolades and has appeared regularly on the Canadian music festival circuit. Currently touring in support of her brand new album “Me”, McLean is truly one of Canada’s rising stars. She has been called “Canada’s best kept secret”. With songs that will stick with you, and a voice bound to haunt you, this is one secret you’ll want to be in on.
“Seeing Ambre live is what live music should be like – Spontaneous Combustion… This is the new sound of Canada rising, soulful, thoughtful, and reflective.”(Michael Williams)“I find her voice fantastically expressive.”
OCTOBER’S XS EMERGING ARTIST OF THE MONTH – THE MANDEVILLES
There was a moment during the recording of Don’t Ask, the most stirring and evocative track on The Mandevilles’ new album Windows and Stones that came to epitomize the heart, soul and energy of the band.
The vocal performance by band co-founder Serena Pryne was so gut-wrenching and so emotionally draining, mining the very depths of her soul that she practically collapsed into the arms of superstar producer GGGarth Richardson when it was over. That vocal take and the similarly powerhouse performances from her bandmates, came to be the template and benchmark for the rest of the album.
“I knew it was a powerful song with a lot of emotion behind it and I was a little intimidated to record it” said Pryne. “He let me do my thing and just pour everything I had into the microphone. He said I would know when I was done.”
From that moment on, that song set the tone for the rest of the record.
“I don’t know if GGGarth knew it ahead of time and planned it with that song, because he would always reference Don’t Ask if we were struggling at any other moment. He set the entire tone based on that track,” said guitarist and band co-founder Nick Lesyk.
The entirety of Windows and Stones is just as creatively, spiritually and emotionally intense and takes the listener on an aural and experiential journey that they won’t soon forget.
AUGUST’S XS EMERGING ARTIST OF THE MONTH – LA+ch
His first single “You Are My Sumer” went to #1 on Hype Machine (worldwide chart which measures weekly online coverage of songs). “You Are My Summer” was also streamed over 3 MILLION times on Spotify!
His brand new single “Hunter” was streamed over 50,000 times in the first four days of release and has already received rave reviews from multiple media outlets in the US and abroad. He’s drawn comparisons to unique and creative pop/dance producers such as Disclosure and Gorgon City.
And…. he’s Canadian!
JULY’S XS EMERGING ARTIST OF THE MONTH – WAKEUP STARLIGHT
Wakeup Starlight, a Folk based Rock band, started in Calgary in 2010, blends the beauty of anthemic songwriting with the fun and intimacy of 60’s folk music. Caleb Cummings, singer songwriter of the band since it’s inception, moves their performances with the looseness of Dylan, and the happy stomp of Paul Simon back in the S&G days.
Wakeup Starlight has released two records since 2010, The Breakdown (Full Length – 2011), and The White Flags of Alderaan (EP – 2012). The first radio single from The Breakdown, titled One Step Away managed to make it’s way into The Billboard top 100 and sold over 10,000 singles on iTunes. One Step Away earned Wakeup Starlight the GMA award for Best New Pop Song that year. The White Flags of Alderaan has held steady in the AAA top 100 Americana albums since 2012.
Wakeup Starlight has toured across Canada and the USA performing with artists such as Marianna’s Trench, Ill Scarlet, Danko Jones, Maestro, and Jars of Clay, as well as showcasing at international festivals such as the Midwest Music Summit (Indianapolis), Canadian Music Week (Toronto), The Jazz Festival (Calgary), and Africaday (Calgary).
JUNE’S EMERGING ARTIST(S) OF THE MONTH – LOU POTTER and FARAHRI
Lou recalls having a burning desire to be an entertainer at a very young age. A local opera singer known as “Uncle Keith” – the late Keith Hall contributed to the harnessing of Lou’s talent providing “one on one” vocal lessons since she was seven years old. At the age of 10 she started piano lessons and sang in the town choir, her favorite class in school was “Sing” and she participated in as many music oriented productions as she could throughout elementary school and formed an all-girl heavy metal band during high school named Salient.
Immediately after graduating high school, the band members had moved on beyond Salient to pursue other avenues, it turned out that Lou’s athletic talents awarded her with a hockey scholarship where she was able to portray her work hard ethic by receiving awards for the skill that she had brought to the team. After attending college, hockey was now on hold for the next passion- music. The aspiring singer/songwriter leaped into construction work to generate enough cash flow to move to the big city and pursue music as a full time career. Ice hockey was now a hobby behind a fulltime job working for a paving company, she had maintained the hard working “Farm Girl” ethic to get to the next chapter in life. On short notice to her friends& family she announced it was time. Being a small town girl with big dreams, it took a lot of courage for her to pack up and head down to Vancouver B.C. to immerse her-self into the music scene, Lou understood that the market was competitive and very saturated but also full of great opportunities in entertainment for talented individuals. Lou has been known to say “the glass is half full, not half empty”. Entertaining and creating music was now the lifestyle and the new career path had been chosen.
A ferocious musical talent, Farahri blends her own unique style of Pop along with the best of Dance, R&B, Hip-Hop, Reggae/Dancehall and Hindi Pop.
However, Farahri’s’ abilities as a vocal powerhouse do not only transcend musical genres. Able to sing in English, French, Spanish, Hindi, Swahili and Jamaican Patois, Farahri makes fans out of any audience with her mesmerizing performances; a true representative of the international music scene.
Having already established herself as a trendsetter, Farahri is no stranger to the fashion world. Her distinctive and avant-garde personal style have won her honors such as one of ANOKHI magazine’s Most Sexy and Successful People of 2010 and a spot to perform on America’s Next Top Model Live in Toronto, May 2012. Recently, Farahri has accepted an endorsement deal with the high-end purse designer, Pretty by CLAUDINE. She has also been appointed the official ambassador for Toronto Youth Day and continues to endorse the AMA SWISS Diamond Watch Company.
Having performed all over the world in countries such as Canada, the United States, Mexico, Austria and Jamaica, Farahri continues to expand her international stardom. She has also shared the stage with some of the industry’s most celebrated superstars including, Usher, Chris Brown, Jeremih, Shaggy, Howie D. of the Backstreet Boys, Beenie Man, Elephant Man, Gyptian and Massari.
A force to be reckoned with, Farahri is ready to lead the next generation into the musical future.
MAY’S EMERGING ARTIST OF THE MONTH – ANDREA GODIN
Andrea Godin is no stranger when it comes to the music industry. Born and raised in St. George, Ontario, this beautiful Pop/EDM/R&B recording artist and songwriter knew at a young age she wanted to be a singer. After her first performance at 11 years old, Andrea was ready to get her career started.
Andrea has won many titles and has released lots of music throughout her years in the industry. She released her debut EP, followed by her singles Bullet, Need A Minute, I Love Miami, Memories (with Grammy nominated artist Ryan Farish, charting #44 on the iTunes Top 100 Dance Charts), Hot Summer (along with an official music video) and her most recent release The Melody. These releases have been a big stepping stone in her career and have been on rotation on Canadian, American, European, & African stations such as Sony TV, Samsung TV, Xbox Live, Much Vibe, BPM TV, Sirius XM, Galaxie, and many more. The songs have been featured on blogs, magazines, and radio worldwide and have also been licensed and performed on national television (City TV, OMNI, CHCH, CTV, Rogers, etc.).
Andrea is currently in the studio recording new music for projects in Europe and across North America with successful DJ’s, producers, and artists such as Alvino, The Hitfinders, and Radion6 to name a few. She also song writes for other artists, her most recent writing project being for the artist Ines with co-writers and producers Benjamin Franklin and Rodrigo Ace in France. Andrea has been busy showcasing her music along with her back up dancers at many high profile events. She has performed in venues such as The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, The Grand ‘Ole Opry in Nashville, and in some of Toronto’s most popular hot spots.
Andrea has also had the pleasure of opening for such artists as Karl Wolf, Craig Smart, Theory of a Deadman and more. Magazines such as Urban Teen in California, UK Flow Magazine, Essential Pop, and Nine5four have already picked up on this talented singer, some even making her the cover of their magazine. Andrea has many big plans and projects in the works worldwide and she is anticipating the many exciting things to come.
APRIL’S EMERGING ARTIST(S) OF THE MONTH – THE SEASONS & ALLIE X
The Seasons: four young lads splitting their time between Toronto and Montréal while singing Indie Pop inspired by the 1960’s : Simon and Garfunkel, The Beatles, The Mamas and the Papas. The Seasons are two voices, one melody; two melodies, one voice. Two brothers, Julien and Hubert, share the vocal duties. They sing a deep-rooted indie folk pop sometimes together in harmony sometimes not. There words are delicate, deep and refined, springing from within the wells of their imaginary universe. The debut single “Apples” is a smash success across Canada and it attracted the attention of The Agency Group who quickly added them to their roster. The band’s debut album was released on April 6th as they head out on the road supporting Patrick Watson! The Seasons say they write songs for themselves – to get away, to escape, to try and find that calm within reality. If afterwards, people listen and follow, they only hope it makes them feel just as good.
Alexandra Ashley Hughes, better known by her stage name Allie X, spends her time between Toronto and Los Angeles these days. She blew up across Canada with much thanks to pop princess Katy Perry. Perry took to Twitter in February praising Allie and her debut single “Catch”, posting the following to her 51.3 million followers: “Currently I’m obsessed with this song CATCH by Allie X: http://neongoldrecords.com/allie-x-catch/ SPRING JAM!”. That definitely helps. In her first interview, Allie tells Billboard magazine she locked herself in her bedroom for two years making music.
MARCH’S EMERGING ARTIST(S) OF THE MONTH – NADIA DOLCE (MONTREAL, QUE) AND HALFWAY TO HOLLYWOOD (VANCOUVER, BC)
After the success of last summer’s dance/electronica single, “El Gitano”, with world renowned, DJ MC Mario, it received International airplay in 26 countries. Nadia gained recognition and continued to write and perform for up and coming local DJs (Chuck Bernard, Ken tracy and Anthony Pag from Sharpshere Records). She caught the attention of MICH2050 music label when she went to record a personal project and impressed them with her songwriting and vocal talents. Her passion and drive towards music persuaded MICH2050 to collaborate on a single, which lead to an EP and now is in the workings of a full album. Nadia began her journey when she was accepted to the McGill Conservatory of Music for classical vocal training and music theory. She continued to follow her dreams influenced by her musical idols such as Mariah Carey, Christina Aguilera, and Whitney Houston.
She inherited her nickname Dolce from her girl group “Dolceamare” (sweet and sour) as being the one with the sweet and kindhearted personality. Nadia remained focused on pursuing a solo career. She won the 16th edition of CFMB’s Superfantastico (Italian version of American Idol) giving her the opportunity to sing her very own composition, “Believe”, in Italy at the Reggio Pop Festival, in August 2011. She also had the opportunity to perform “El Gitano” at the CKOI Beach Party in front of 10 000 people, in 2012 as well as recently performing at various venues such as Moomba Supperclub and Plaza Theatre with her soul sister, Lady A. To kick off 2013, Great Things Studios directed her first official music videos for “Remember” which received 55 000 + Youtube views and the French version of the first single “Souviens-toi”. Taking a new direction from her previous electronica releases, rediscover a new side to Nadia Dolce with her latest EP “Remember” along with Dolceamare Girlgroup’s new journey. Dolce always says,”All is possible when you believe
HALFWAY TO HOLLYWOOD
Vancouver pop-rock trio Halfway to Hollywood have been together just over a year and have already built up a sizeable social media profile on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. This, along with their rigorous touring schedule has allowed HTH to cultivate a loyal following in most major towns and cities across Canada, selling over 7000 digital singles and 500 copies of their EP in this time.
The band’s sound is a high energy blend of Canadian and American pop influences and they are often compared to bands like Hedley, Marianas Trench and Faber Drive. Their message is simple, yet powerful: believe in your dreams, stay positive and great things will happen!
The new EP, entitled “Party Like it’s Prom Night” and released in March 2013, was met with strong sales that pushed it to number 17 on iTunes’ Canadian pop chart within just a few hours. It was produced by 604 Records/Union Entertainment Group/Simkin Artist Management producer Danny Craig (Default, Fighting for Ithaca, One Bad Son) and had already been generating a buzz, both locally and abroad, with the lead-off single “Green Lights” selling over a thousand copies before its release. The band’s current plans consist of continuing to grow their fan base through further touring, festival appearances and video releases. This summer you can catch the boys playing alongside notable acts like Down With Webster, Dragonnette and Victoria Duffield to name just a few.
FEBRUARY’S EMERGING ARTIST OF THE MONTH – MATTHEW JOHNSTON (LONDON, ONT)
London, Ontario native and prolific song-smith, Matthew Johnston, has signed to 604 Records in anticipation of his debut full-length record The World Will Break Your Heart set for release in late 2014. An earlier self-produced EP led to Matthew’s opening for Canadian artists such as Hedley, Lights, Down with Webster, Faber Drive, and Justin Nozuka, and International artists such as Girlicious and T-Pain. Matthew has written songs for Classified and produced for Juno award-winning Shad.
In this new era of post-indierockgoth-souldown-tempopbr&bdancetraphip-pop, let’s put aside the old descriptors and call Matthew Johnston’s debut album The World Will Break Your Heart what it truly is: honest.
Johnston’s first single, “Explosions In The Sky” is a slice of contemporary pop music, pulling on perfect strings of melody but somehow wrapped in a tempo and rhythm that makes for an upbeat hit. The accompanying video is a perfect companion to the song and will be sure to turn heads at MuchMusic upon it’s release.
Matthew Johnston has been committed to music since he was 13, beginning as a drummer and evolving into a multi-instrumentalist, singer, and producer. His debut full-length is the culmination of years of growth and struggle. Through all of the up-and-downs of young adulthood, Matthew persevered; performing, producing, arranging, and mixing his debut entirely on his own, finally arriving at this brave statement of unrelenting hope. The heart-rending songs are aimed squarely and unabashedly at the best parts of us without ignoring life’s painful realities. It is music that is bright, big, and, above all, sincere.
JANUARY’S EMERGING ARTIST OF THE MONTH – VIRGINIA TO VEGAS (TORONTO, ONT)
Virginia To Vegas has arrived with the debut single “We Are Stars” featuring Alyssa Reid. The Toronto-based enigmatic singer and songwriter Derik Baker has combined feel-good electronic groove with an infectious chorus to create a unique brand of indie pop that is creating a stir among music critics and fans alike.
2013 Emerging Artists
November’s XS Emerging Artist Of The Month – JESS HART
In 2005, Hart recorded her debut self-titled EP, produced by Dominique Messier in collaboration with Studios Piccolo Productions. Her self-produced debut album “Incorporated” was released in 2009, with single “Journalists” charting #11 in Toronto. After relocating to the West Coast to tour and perform, Hart released the single “Lifestyle Ad” which charted on the Canada iTunes Top 100 Singer-Songwriter Songs, June 2012. Her repertoire has been licensed for use in film and television.
October’s XS Emerging Artist Of The Month – FLASH JAM
Five-piece pop outfit Flash Jam is one step closer to packing dance floors with its much-anticipated sophomore release. The Edmonton-based band recently released their sophomore EP – ‘Brite Nights, Volume One’ – from the collection of songs known as ‘Brite Nights Sessions’ that the band is splitting into two volumes.
The Brite Nights Sessions feature an array of songs, from uplifting party anthems with infectious hooks to lighters-in-the-air ballads with energy-infused melodies.
Flash Jam emerged into the music scene in 2009 with its self-titled EP featuring catchy pop single “Caught on the Dance floor,” which garnered independent radio play across western Canada. It didn’t take long for this attention to reach a broader audience. Flash Jam won numerous competitions early on, prompting a series of Canada-wide bookings. The band also opened for several major-label acts like Faber Drive, Stereos and Crash Karma.
It took a break from touring in late 2011 to record with major-label producer Jeff Dalziel (Prozzak, B4-4, Ten Second Epic, Tupelo Honey, Alyssa Reid, Adriiana) in Toronto, Ont. Dalziel and Flash Jam hit it off instantly and after many long, caffeine-infused nights, the group perfected Brite Nights. An arsenal of talent, including songwriters Chris Meyer, Dane Hartsell, Rob James and Grammy Award winner Carl Utbult, assisted Flash Jam in the creative process.
Co-founders Jamie McLean (vocals) and Oliver Banjac (guitar, synth, back-up vocals) created the band with a common vision — they simply wanted to fulfill their passions while engaging a broad audience through its lyrics, melodies and live performance. With the likes of Stefan Candie (synth, vocals), Brody Krock (bass), and recently added Caleb Hilbich (drums), the band intends to continue doing just that with its newly-released tracks.
September’s XS Emerging Artist(s) Of The Month
THE GLORIOUS SONS and CELEB
THE GLORIOUS SONS – There is a mechanic shop in the heart of industrial Kingston. It stands in the corner of a dead end surrounded by dead trees and mangy strays of all kinds. There, lies their dream; In each graceless poster covering the walls, in the stained carpet beneath their feet, in the empty cases of Pabst that jingle to the vibration of their melodies. They are The Glorious Sons, a Canadian rock band, defined by their music and inspired by the day to day grind.
They are the everyman band, with a passion for portraying the lost romance of liquor, women and rock and roll.
The band was formed eighteen months ago as a four piece and was quickly changed to a five piece with the addition of lead singer Brett Emmons. The band is made up of of Jay on the lead guitar, Adam on the drums, Andrew on guitar and vocals and Chris on the bass and Brett on keyboard and lead vocals.
The future for the band is bright. Their first EP will be released in September and they are beginning to gain fan support across Canada and will be touring the east coast come the fall. The band currently resides in Kingston and they continue to jam atop the mechanic shop where they began. They continue to write songs and play as often as possible. As their dreams become a reality, they still understand the importance of keeping their lives afloat. They continue to wake early in the morning for the daily grind and at five pm, you can count on that old Nissan truck pulling into the lot, followed by three others. Five men will get out; make their way to the corner of Jay’s house and united by their goals and day to day lives, they will continue to preach the lost romance of liquor, women and rock and roll.
CELEB – Discovered by Multi-Hit Producer “Jazze Pha” (Missy Elliott, 2Pac, Aaliyah, Notorious B.I.G), CELEB found himself relocating to Atlanta, Georgia and recording with some of today’s hottest urban superstars. From Atlanta, CELEB signed with the XOXO Entertainment Corp. label, (distributed by Universal Music), and commuted to Vancouver to work on radio singles with Producer “Adam H.” and his all-star team.
The web spread wider as the singles found their way to Florida to be mixed by Grammy Award Winner, Orlando Calzada (One Direction, Lady Gaga, Enrique Iglesias), then on to New York City where Mastering guru, Larry Lachmann (John, Legend, Whitney Houston, Edwin McCain) put the icing on the cake! Currently CELEB is juggling a U.S. Summer Arena Tour with some of Todays hottest young stars performing in front of packed stadiums, and working diligently to finish his debut album; CELEB has teamed up with many artists for features and collaborations including Elise Estrada, Craig Smart & Jazze Pha (Pronounced “Jazzy Fay”).
His infectious debut single “Second Chances” featuring K.T. and his follow up “My Boo” featuring Craig Smart are both available on iTunes worldwide. You will also be seeing much more of CELEB as he guest stars on the latest season of “Real Housewives Of Vancouver” alongside his Producer, Adam H. Turn up your speakers, hit play, and time yourself as to how long it takes for you to be hooked on “CELEB”!
August’s XS Emerging Artist Of The Month – ROCKET ROCKET SHIP
RocketRocketShip is the kind of band that you will drive hours and hours for the chance to see live. Starting out strong, the St. John’s, Newfoundland six-piece has only been together since 2009, but have already opened for bands like Marianas Trench and Ten Second Epic and are gaining fans by the truckload.
The band is made up of Tyrone MacNeil (Lead Vocals), Paul Brake (lead guitar, vocals), Dave Shears (bass, vocals), Jeremy Kelly (drums), Matt Dines (guitar), and Kenny Purchase (synth) and with each member bringing a different musical background, they collaborate to create their signature power pop sound.
Their skill in delivering pop hooks and energetic arrangements is remarkable and is one of the many reasons that they are being noticed by fans, peers, and industry professionals. Their never-ending conversation with fans both on and off the stage has created a band known as much for their music as for their overall entertainment value. RocketRocketShip never requires stadium budgets to produce a larger-than-life act and puts on a live show that could compete with any well-established pop punk band. They use everything from trampolines and confetti bombs to alien mascots and glow sticks as they engage their audience in the performance.
If you’re someone who likes to make your way to the front of the crowd and will refuse to stop dancing until the final chord has petered out, you’ll like RocketRocketShip. To keep track of what the guys of RocketRocketShip are up to, head to their Facebook page or follow @RocketShipBand on Twitter. Chances are, they’ll be announcing some significant tour information soon!
July’s XS Emerging Artist Of The Month – KYLE MISCHIEK
Kyle’s sophomore release “Fallin’ In Deep – EP” is a 7 song short album that offers a blend of hard hitting modern EDM tracks, 90’s R&B influenced slow jams, and some light pop-rap.
Behind the scenes is the work of ECMA winning producer Jamie Foulds, songwriting collaborations with the likes of Gordie Sampson, Steven MacDougall, Breagh MacKinnon, Dylan Guthro, and a couple of high energy club beats by Halifax artist MattyBoh. Even with the East Coast All-Star support team he has, Kyle still takes on the bulk of the songwriting, and drives his music through electrifying live performances, and innovative online content.
Growing up in Cape Breton, NS, and starting out locally, Kyle’s early success can be traced back to music development programs such as “Next Big Thing Talent Search” and “The Gordie Sampson Songcamp”. But it was Kyle’s work ethic and passion for making music that brought him to the next level.
Kyle’s debut EP “570” featured the hit Cape Breton single “We are an Island Remix”, which was a modern take on Kenzie MacNeil’s classic song “The Island” (originally recorded by the Barra MacNeils). The song caught the attention of Cape Bretoners all over the world, and helped him attract over 170,000 YouTube hits.
Kyle has quickly developed a loyal, young audience of teenage girls known as “The Mischicks”, but more and more often people of all shapes and sizes are revealing themselves as Kyle Mischiek fans! His growth has been exponential, and he is gearing up to take the nation, and world by storm with his latest release!
For more information visit kylemischiek.com
June’s XS Emerging Artist Of The Month – RENEE MALO
Renee Malo had her big break on the national stage of CMT Canada’s “Big In A Small Town” as a Top 30 Finalist. Since then, she has been hard at work recording her album in Nashville, and promoting her first single, “Can You Hear me Now”.
Renee is a true artist. She co-writes her own songs and is an outstanding performer who draws in any audience. This country blonde bombshell has this “down-to-earth” sassiness about her that everyone seems to love. Her single “Can You Hear Me Now” has been attacking radio stations across Canada and has sure proven to be a hit. “The single is definitely an ‘ex-girlfriend song” says Renee. “It’s about getting through to someone that just doesn’t get it any other way, which I think anyone can relate to at some point in their life” Renee continues.
Renee is hosting her Album Release Concert in her hometown, Cold Lake, Alberta on July 27th, 2013. Her single “Can You Hear Me Now” is available on iTunes and her album will be available on iTunes after July 27th, 2013. This raw Alberta talent is the one to watch! Look out country radio, your going to love her!
May’s XS Emerging Artist(s) Of The Month
QUENTIN REDDY & HIGHDIAMOND
QUENTIN REDDY – New to 306 Records, Quentin Reddy first appeared on the national stage on CMT’s Big In A Small Town, and he has since been hard at work recording an album, and promoting his first single, “Rest For My Body”.
“Quentin is a true artist,” says 306 President Louis O’Reilly, “he writes his own stuff, he’s a solid performer, he’s got a cool look about him, and he can draw you in.” Reddy responds, “Well, I’m a Catholic Newfie, transplanted to Alberta, so I guess it just comes naturally. I’ll talk to anybody!”
Quentin’s single, “Beautiful Crazy Life” features Canadian roots rockers, The Heartbroken, who joined Reddy in the studio. The guitar work of Stuart Cameron, and the backing vocals provided by Damhnait Doyle are unmistakable. The single was delivered to Canadian radio at noon on May 6, at which time Quentin hopped a plane to Toronto to begin promoting it. “For me, ‘Beautiful Crazy Life’ was sort of personal,” says Reddy. “I used to live for myself, putting myself first. But that all changes when you have kids. The song’s about healing and understanding.”
Recognized at a young age for their outstanding dance ability, stage presence and genuine personalities, Cat & Ang are no strangers to performing on the big stage and have many television and movie credits to their names.
Cat & Ang have been dancing pretty much their whole lives spending endless hours at dance competitions and putting on shows. They began taking singing lessons around the ages of 12 and as their voices became stronger, so did their passion for being singers…not only accomplished dancers…, which led to a dream of becoming a sister act where they could sing & dance their way into everyone’s hearts.
These talented ladies were born to perform. Dressing up in fabulous costumes and dramatic stage makeup, Cat & Ang have always thrived from entertaining audiences. Their passion for singing and dancing has enriched their lives so much that they could never imagine not performing and sharing their love for music in hopes of inspiring others.
April’s XS Emerging Artist(s) Of The Month
LEXI STRATE and ROBYN & RYLEIGH
LEXI STRATE – This new and exciting, raw Alberta talent is determined to make her mark in the pop scene! Unexpected sultry tones and strong, soulful vocals, combined with her stunning urban-chic style, Lexi stimulates the senses and undeniably captivates her audience.
Lexi got her big break in Edmonton when she won a big radio contest in 2012. The prize was a trip to Vancouver to record two singles with the talented Mike James and his Milk Music Co. team. Lexi’s very first single, “Turning Point” debuted on Edmonton’s 104.9 Virgin Radio in September. She was also named Astral Media’s Breakthrough Artist for the month of October, capturing audiences all across Canada, with national radio play! In December, Lexi released her next single,”Unstoppable (We Got That Feelin’)”. This fun, edgy dance track was featured in the CW’s TV series “Beauty & The Beast”.
Her latest release (Jan. 2013) is “All For You”, co-written by Milk Music Co.’s Mike James (Kelly Rowland, Kreesha Turner), Stef Lang (Mr. Immature), and the brilliant Davey Badiuk (Dragonette). This high-energy track’s catchy hook, describes a “hurricane” of reckless feelings and emotions experienced when blind-sided by unforeseen love. With an exciting sound that stands alone, and a certain, relatable message, this song is sure to be a radio hit.
With diverse influences such as Dallas Green, Rihanna, Bruno Mars, Adele, Jann Arden and Maroon 5, Lexi’s songs reflect a new and interesting edge to pop music. Lexi is currently teaming up with Canadian producer/songwriter, Jeff Dawson, radio artist Laurell, as well as Mike James and the Milk Music Co. team, to continue to create and record music that her fans can connect with.
Watch out for this bright Alberta star! Her future is NOW!
ROBYN & RYLEIGH – Sisters Robyn Gillespie (left) and Ryleigh Gillespie (right) are a talented emerging country/pop duo hailing from Langley, British Columbia. Their sound is a reflection of their favorite musical influences the energy of modern rock blended with traditional country elements of acoustic instruments, meaningful lyrics, and sibling harmonies.
“R and R”, as their friends and family lovingly tag them, are true Canadian country girls in daily life, growing up in a serene setting on the family property in BC’s Fraser Valley. When not on a stage or in front of a camera, Robyn can be found working on her own car, while Ryleigh is an avid quadder, and once beat some farm boys in a tractor race at a fair after one of their gigs.
The girls began singing and performing together organically. Robyn began writing the first of her many songs at age 12, and discovered singing in front of receptive family members and friends was fun and well received. Soon after, Ryleigh began harmonizing to her sister’s songs from an adjoining room, creating what is now their signature sound. Duly impressed, their mom and dad encouraged them to sing together, and that’s when the sibling magic took over. Robyn has blossomed into a prolific songwriter and guitar player, also dabbling with every instrument she can get her hands on. Ryleigh is now also co-writing some of the girls’ songs, in addition to being a working actor. The girls’ first, full-length album is set for Spring 2013 release on Raincoast/MDM Recordings.
Robyn and Ryleigh are authentic country girls – singing about fast cars, boys, and hot summer nights. Part mud, part makeup, part glamorous, part funny. The perfect recipe for a couple of girls you’d like to get to know better.
March’s XS Emerging Artist Of The Month – WARREN DEAN FLANDEZ
Born in Yellowknife and calling Vancouver home, Warren grew up singing in the church, steeped in the rich tapestry of gospel music. At the age of 15, Warren began singing lead in a soul gospel choir under the direction of Checo Tohomaso, former backup singer and keyboardist of Marvin Gaye, Lionel Ritchie and the Commodores. It was under Checo’s mentorship that Warren developed his craft through studying the ways of Motown and channeling the essence of soul greats.
An accomplished recording artist, songwriter, musician, producer and entrepreneur, Warren also heads a growing entertainment empire known as Studio Cloud 30. Since its expansion in 2010, Studio Cloud 30 has quickly become one of Canada’s leading artist development companies with several divisions under its umbrella, including boutique imprint label 30 Records.
In May of 2011 Warren released his critically acclaimed debut album ‘Vintage Love’ (30 Records/Fontana). ‘Vintage Love’ was a collaborative effort produced by the incomparable Mike Southworth that featured contributions from R&B songstress Divine Brown, The Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, Printz Board (Black Eyed Peas), Andrea Martin (Roc Nation) and a song penned by legendary songwriter Diane Warren.
‘Vintage Love’ garnered national praise from publications such as the Toronto Star, Vancouver Province and Montreal Mirror, which listed ‘Vintage Love’ as #2 on their top 10 R&B albums of 2011 in the company of Jill Scott, Mary J. Blige, R. Kelly and Jennifer Hudson.
February’s XS Emerging Artist(s) Of The Month – LEANNE PEARSON
“Here and Now” is her first offering to Canadian radio. Co-written by Leanne and produced by Bart McKay this single is from her debut release “Serendipity”.
If you think her name is familiar well that’s because she was a top six finalist on CMT’s “Big In A Small Town.” TV show, and this past summer she was the winner of Dauphin’s Countryfest Talent Contest. A great start for a talented young lady.
“Leanne has the maturity as well as the talent.” – Aaron Pritchett
“There’s a thing about you, it’s the ‘get it’ factor. You understand who you are, you’re confident in who you are and you’re not trying to be somebody else.” “Your voice is ridiculously good and you have this sweetness about you.” – CMT’s Casey Clarke
“You come across as such a level headed kid. You have a great voice, a great smile… so if you keep that level head, I think we may see more of you.” – CMT’s Joel Stewart
October’s XS Emerging Artist(s) Of The Month – LISA NICOLE and GREG WOOD!
LISA NICOLE – Small town girl Lisa Nicole has moved her heart and soul, all by herself, to the big city of Vancouver B.C. where she is pursuing her path of music. This down to earth, upcoming country rock singer is driven to make a statement in the music industry.
Lisa recently went to Nashville to write and record for her upcoming album, whom award winning producer Bill Buckingham is producing. She has also released her first music video for her single “Not Over You” with over 8200 hits on YouTube! She is also a graduate of Selkirk College Contemporary Music and Technology, where she received a Songwriting and Performance Major in Vocals. Songwriting has become a part of Lisa that she will never give up.
Lisa grew up listening to good ole country music. Many of her influences include Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood, Martina McBride, Taylor Swift, Christina Aguilera, and Guns N’ Roses. She has a certain feistiness of country rock in her veins. At just the age of nine, she made her first appearance singing at J.B’s pub in Balfour. At age 15, she was hitting three to four different jams a week at local pubs in the Kootenay’s. She would have to wait outside, even in the winter, for her turn to sing.
Now, you can find Lisa at Gabby’s Country Cabaret, Merritt Music Festival and The Media Club in downtown Vancouver. She has also competed in the BC Talent Search, Canadian Idol and has done a tour in the Kootenay to Okanagan region.
You can follow Lisa at www.lisanicolemusic.com or on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Reverbnation and MySpace.
GREG WOOD – Greg is a born storyteller and after spending the better part of 2008 travelling coast to coast across the United States, from California to Virginia, writing songs along the journey, he returned home to Alberta deciding to set his stories free, recording his debut singer-songwriter CD. The EP “Set You Free”, released Fall 2008, charted on several college radio stations from St. John’s, Newfoundland to Kamloops, B.C. It was also in light to heavy rotation on community radio, on CBC Radio 3, and several commercial stations also gave “Broken Hearted Girl” and “Pass Me By” adds and made them available for listener requests.
Greg’s songs have also been featured on such programs as “Acoustic Planet”, and the program “Northern Spotlight” featured “Broken Hearted Girl” alongside releases from Nickelback and Mobile! Skopemag picked Greg as an “Artist to Watch”. By the spring of 2009 Greg was pursuing music full time, playing numerous live shows. He has captivated audiences as a soloist and with his bands, in venues both intimate as cafes, as large as theatres and festivals, performing at a multitude of events, including BOONSTOCK 2011 (on stage following A Perfect Circle).
September’s XS Emerging Artist Of The Month – JESSICA ANBARA
Jessica Anbara is a Canadian singer/rapper and songwriter from Gatineau, Quebec. She was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia and is of Lebanese and Australian descent.
From as far back as her first steps, Jessica has always been a natural born performer. She would never let an opportunity pass, performing at talent shows, festivals, weddings and various other events. Having spent her childhood in Lebanon, Jessica offers great diversity and an “international” touch to her music, singing in English, French and Arabic.
In 2011, Jessica took the necessary steps to advance in her music career. She registered as an official artist and began recording her original music. Since then, she has successfully made a name for herself. She has been interviewed by several radio stations and has had her songs played on air and at clubs around the cities of Ottawa & Gatineau; she has also proven that hard work pays off, given her album has not yet been released.
Jessica is a very business oriented young woman, who takes part in the entire decision making affecting her career, from directing her videos to editing her photos, she does it all.
She is not only a musical artist, but is also a great entertainer known for her great performances and dancing. At only 16, Jessica was a hip-hop and belly dance teacher.
In April 2012, Jessica won airtime on WPBS TV to premiere her first original music video “Don’t Turn Away”. She is also very active within her community and can be found taking part in volunteer and charity work across the city for many causes (Cheo Charity, International Women’s Day, The boys & girls club… etc.). With such powerful fast rapping skills, Jessica had also been appointed to be a judge at the “Drop the beat” rap battles in the Ottawa/Gatineau area where she also performs regularly. On July 18, 2012 Jessica opened for Karl Wolf at the annual St Elias Lebanese festival. She continues to strive for success, this is only the beginning.
Her motto is “There is no limit to my art”, and to that she stays true. She has broken stereotypes by creating great musical work within several different genres of music as well as incorporating french language and arabic sounds. Jessica is currently working on releasing her first pop/rnb album, as well as a rap mixtape and an electronic dance music EP to be released within the next year (2013). In the meantime she continues to impress and entertain Canadians through her involvement in many events and projects. Jessica appeared on Daytime Rogers TV to promote her single “Let Me Go”.
August’s XS Emerging Artist Of The Month – CARMEN CORCOZ
Carmen reminds us of how “Rock and Roll” first started. Showcasing a fun and soulful vibe, her songs originate from a mixture of gospel, blues and rhythm music. Reliving “The Isley Brothers” days when music wasn’t so prepackaged or just a mindless repetition over a hypnotic beat.
“I always dreamed of inspiring others through my music and lyrics”
The singer, songwriter and actress released her first Album “Inspired” on August 21st, 2011. During that process, she had been performing live and promoting her debut single “Hide N’ Seek”. Entertaining at numerous charity and community events, Carmen felt that there was much more she could do. Staying true to her words above, she had affiliated herself with SickKids Foundation in hopes of helping sick children and the Hospital through music. Her campaign will be ongoing until August of 2012 and every song download or album purchased, proceeds will be going to the Foundation.
“When I sing, my goal is to reach inside every listener and tell a story from the heart. I want to remind them that music is my freedom and it leaves me to inspire continuously.”
July’s XS Emerging Artist Of The Month – RACHEL ASHLEY
Standing up and singing on a restaurant table at the age of four was the beginning of Rachel Ashley’s journey as an entertainer. Since then, this motivated prairie girl has been unstoppable. Living on a farm near the small town of Graysville, Manitoba, Rachel has developed a strong passion for writing and performing country music.
At the impressive age of 16, she already has 40-plus gigs under her belt this past year alone, and a diverse catalog of songs – some of which have been co-written with the likes of Canadian writer Ron Irving, and veteran Nashville songwriter Marc Alan Barnette. Her love for music, consistent determination, a pure heart-warming voice, and the ability to play several instruments such as the guitar, piano, mandolin, and banjo, are sure signs that this singer-songwriter has what it takes to make her dream of becoming a country star a reality.
June’s XS New Artists Of The Month – MICHAEL WOOD BAND and THE SWILLS!
MICHAEL WOOD BAND –Michael Wood grew up surrounded by music, and one day digging around in his parents’ basement he discovered the music that would continue to inspire him: a trunk full of his Dads classic rock vinyls. He set up a turntable in his room and proceeded to be influenced by the tradition of musicians such as Cream, Hendrix, and The Ramones.
Summers were spent at festivals studying a diverse range of acts, and near constant exposure to alt rock radio began to define his music as he started to write songs.Excited to share his songs with audiences, Michael began winning over local audiences with his infectious energy. Performed with a band of skilled musicians including Josh Weed on guitar, Jon Baergen on bass and Alex Campbell on drums, the music is described as “Shockingly fresh, strong songs with a great delivery. Infectious grooves that bring to mind The Police, Kings Of Leon and Red Hot Chilli Peppers with undertones of Hendrix, the Ramones and Tom Petty. I had to listen to the music from start to finish…then press repeat.” (Aaron Bethune, Play It Loud Music).
THE SWILLS – The Swills are an exciting new rock band from Vancouver. Combining killer heavy riffs with catchy melodies, kick-ass rhythms, and songs that actually have something to say, The Swills are the perfect solution to the mundane modern rock blues!
They’ve been together since 2006, with very humble beginnings as a true garage band, complete with a rehearsal space in a bus depot! They’ve made a name for themselves with their fans by putting on high-energy shows designed to make people move. They’re also known for their social conscience, both in the songs they write, and by putting on shows for various charities. To date, they have raised over $3000 for such local charities as Covenant House and The BC Prader-Willi society. Moving forward, they plan on producing and performing in at least two charity events per year.
Their first self-produced record, Travelling Thru Time, released in 2008, was well received by college and independent radio stations, and The Swills are excited to build on that success with their new record, which draws heavily from their punk rock and blues rock influences, to create a unique hard-rocking sound.
May’s XS New Artists Of The Month – MENA HARDY and FRANKLIN McKAY!
MENA HARDY – I love retro rock and the classic feel a really good retro band can give to new material. Few bands have matched the feel of pure magic I had after I saw my first Frankie Whyte and the Dead Idols show back in 2007 but I very recently found an act that really did it for me in the same way that so few have .
Mena Hardy is my answer to the question “What if Janis Joplin (Mena’s biggest influence) had lived?” and her self-titled EP is a testament to that and all things ‘Redneck Rock’ cool. With an infectious smile and enthusiasm that goes along with doing what she loves, the petite brunette is a natural extrovert in a profession where a ton of tunesmiths have had to learn a degree of personalism to engage audiences and plenty never have. She is amused when I tell how I found out about her. I had been looking for a female-fronted Southern rock act to write about and a nearly fruitless search turned up her name – a hard-rocking young woman from Alexandria which I assumed meant Alexandria, Louisiana or perhaps Alexandria, Virginia not Alexandria, Ontario, Canada. If you try to track down Southern rock musicians online you’ll find a number of them are more country than rock and they are almost all guys.
But if you look hard enough you might find bands that have a blend which echoes the best of the Allman Brothers, Mountain, Skynyrd, etc. There are Janis Joplins and Melissa Etheridges out there – just not necessarily in the Southern United States. Southern rock is no longer a geographic classification for the genre if it ever really was “After a while everything I was listening was Delta blues and Southern-based and it just kinda came together. When I write I try to do a more a modern version of Southern rock and make it MY genre, my niche.”
Her performance included covers of ‘Mississippi Queen’ by Mountain and ‘Rock N’ Roll’ by Zep. These are the kinds of tracks that compliment her hard rockin’ original material like her showstopper ‘Livin’ It Up’.
“The first set is always the most difficult because the people (audience) aren’t drunk yet so ya gotta warm ’em up,” she jokes.
Setting aside time for an interview with me we went over her background chatting about her start in a small-town which straddles the Ontario/Quebec border. Feelings of awkwardness were never a stranger to young Ms. Hardy, the only would-be rock star in her rural setting, a vivacious heterosexual woman who got targeted for homophobia by local crackers without the qualification of being gay .
“I always knew there was something different about me growing up. I was the artist – the weird kid, always playing music and reading books. I was characterized as a ‘dyke’ because I had picked up a guitar,” she recounts candidly .
The familiar experience young musicians get of being told they’ll never make it is touched upon as she performs the autobiographical track ‘I’m a Loser’ in which she plays with the label bestowed upon her by peers and teachers in her small-town. After a year and a half in Toronto her reality is very different now. But not different enough when it comes to occasional bouts of stage fright like those she had when she first hit stages.
FRANKLIN McKAY – Franklin McKay is the definition of a fresh new artist with a soul full of passion expressed through his exciting voice and melodies that do not fail to deliver in any way. ‘Someone’, Franklin’s first radio release, simply defines living the moment.
Born in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario and now residing between Los Angeles & Toronto, Franklin McKay is making a massive new appearance to the Music world. With an extensive list of experience, writing and recording music from a young age of 14 with knowledge of performing live for thousands of people, Franklin McKay is no stranger to the music scene and is making a worthy return to his roots.
Franklin is influenced greatly by artists such as, Elton John, Neil Diamond and Harem Scarem. The unique tones and remarkable success of these artists is also present throughout Franklin’s performance. ‘Someone’ is his latest release from the album ‘Just Sayin’. This is a song that brings fresh new vibes to modern music and there is something for everyone in this track. Expressing the idea of love and comfort in his lyrics, this feel-good song will leave you with a smile on your face. :S
Franklin has been lucky enough to have had honorary mention by Billboard Magazine in their annual world song writing competition (2010) rewarding his unique talent. Now currently working on his debut album “Just Sayin”, produced by Harry Hess, We can expect amazing things that will surprise and keep us tuned in.
April’s XS New Artists Of The Month – LINDI ORTEGA and MARCIO NOVELLI
LINDI ORTEGA – Hot off the heels from 2 Juno Award nominations for New Artist of the Year and Roots & Traditional Album: Solo, Lindi Ortega just might be the next big female voice to come out of Canada.
Somewhere in an old 1960’s apartment building in the city of Toronto, Canada, a well worn pair of cherry red cowboy boots wait by the door. About a half foot from those boots sits a guitar case, brightly decorated with glittery stars and images of Mexican painter, Frida Kahlo. A little down the hallway and towards the bedroom, a Johnny Cash record is spinning away. On the bed is a journal with a bird on the front cover and the saying “Go Slow, Life in Progress”.Sitting on the floor with a bottle of merlot and a red flower in her dark hair is where we find Lindi Ortega.It’s rather obvious from her appearance that Miss Ortega, with her ruby lips and Mexican/Irish background, is the kind of gal that would stand out in a crowd, but she prefers to be standing in front of one.
Lindi Ortega has just completed a new full length record produced by Ron Lopata and released on Last Gang Records on June 7th of 2011. Lindi has already been proclaimed, “One of the most important new artists of the year,” (Tom Lanham, The SF Examiner).
MARCIO NOVELLI – Marcio Novelli is an award-winning Canadian independent pop/rock singer-songwriter with a dynamic voice and a sound to match. With recent attention from numerous Grammy award-winning producers, Novelli entered the studio in late 2011 with producer Jim Wirt (Incubus, Jack’s Mannequin) and engineer Nick Blagona (Green Day, The Police) to record his debut full length album, “It’s Not An Excuse, It’s A Reason”, in just two weeks. His first single “Doctor, Please” features Chris Steele of Alexisonfire on bass.
Novelli’s previous “Break Me” EP was produced by Juno award-winning producer Julius ‘Juice’ Butty (City and Colour, Alexisonfire) and went on to win the best pop/rock recording of the year at the 2009 Hamilton Music Awards with the title track currently in daily rotation on idobi Radio (the Internet’s #1 alternative station) and reaching the top 20 on college and university radio stations.
On social networking sites like Myspace.com, Novelli has managed to exceed well over 8 million song plays via word of mouth. Stickam.com recently featured Novelli’s live webcast entitled “The Marcio Novelli Show”, bringing in nearly 1 million viewers. Fans tattooed with his lyrics can be seen multiplying across the globe, proving that Novelli’s ever-growing worldwide fanbase shows no signs of slowing down.
March’s XS New Artist Of The Month – SABRINA VAZ
Sabrina is JUMPING out into the music world with her new original single “JUMP”. She is a young talented singer who also has a passion for song writing. Her increasing fan base, which she refers to as “Mystars”, have shown her much dedication and support. “Mystars” is the term of endearment that signifies how she sees her fans as her stars, because they are the ones that are allowing her to make her dreams come true. In her words, “they light up the sky to my journey”. Sabrina is a Canadian born singer from Windsor, Ontario. Her French and Portuguese background has expanded her fan base to include people from all over the world that share these languages.
From a very young age Sabrina was passionate about music. Before she could speak a full sentence she was already humming and babbling her way through songs with a microphone in her hand. Growing up in a musical household, her father Rick a versatile musician and songwriter who always participated with his band in various shows, helped nurture this passion in her. Sabrina grew up attending rehearsals when she would herself pick up the mic and join them, who have now become her band for her live performances.
February’s XS New Artist Of The Month – TY BAYNTON
Ty Baynton is an interesting mix of good ole boy, philosopher and mischief. His tongue in cheek sense of humour sometimes masks his deep appreciation for living life on purpose. Ty seizes the moment, the day and life. As a prolific songwriter, his lyrics reveal his love of country living, friends, family and a rocking good time. As a performer, his real pleasure comes from having “the crowd singing back to” him as one of his songs says. Ty is serious about the quality of his music, but never takes himself too seriously. He picked up a guitar at 14, wrote his first song and began performing at 15. Now at age 22, he performs in venues around Southern Ontario and has refined his writing style which he says has been influenced by a diverse group of writers including Jeffrey Steele and Rhett Atkins and draws inspiration from a wide range of artists including Robert Johnson, Eric Church, Oasis and Hank Williams Sr. to name a few. Ty would rather play music than just about anything else. That others love to listen has been an added bonus and a pleasure.
For more information on Ty, visit www.tybaynton.com
January‘s XS New Artists Of The Month – SONY MAI and MARIE CHRISTINE
SONY MAI – Born in Asia, Sony was raised in Quebec amidst Vietnamese-Chinese and Western cultures. At a young age, she displayed a keen interest for the arts and already had strong aspirations of a career in music.
Despite modest means, Sony’s parents enrolled her in several classes to help broaden her musical knowledge, including violin and vocal lessons, the latter of which revealed her exceptional voice. Grants and awards followed, helping her to continue developing her talent. Passionate by nature, Sony also trained in gymnastics and the martial arts, and became interested in writing and dance. Contrary to most of her fellow peers, Sony continued to be inspired by legendary vocalists such as Mireille Mathieu, Édith Piaf and Barbara Streisand.
Fast forward to January 15, 2012 and Sony releases ‘Guilty’; the first single from her self-titled album. The record features pop-dance songs that deliver an enticing sensual energy and ballads that are filled with bewitching emotion in every note. Through masterful arrangement by Canadian director Black Pérignon, the foreign beauty and incredible harmonic range of Sony’s voice are brought to life and leave no one indifferent.
MARIE CHRISTINE – There is an exotic haunting beauty in the voice of Marie-Christine. It’s a sound that conjures the sophistication and magic of both her up-bring and heritage. Born and raised in Montreal to Haitian parents, Marie-Christine swears that the seeds of her love for music were planted well before her birth. “I know that my father used to sing to me while I was still in the womb,” she says happily.
Her father had an intense love of classical music, so much so that he taught himself to play piano. He was determined to pass his passion on to his daughter and made sure that Marie-Christine was able to take advantage of schooling in Montreal where she spent fourteen years from the age of 5 in classical piano training.
While it was generally classical music that filled the house, Marie-Christine secretly harbored a love for pop music, sneaking listens to the likes of Whitney Houston, En Vogue, Bell Biv Davoe, Stevie Wonder and even New Kids On The Block! “I just loved the sound of the voices,” she says. “Especially the harmonies of En Vogue. I would spend as much time as I could with the radio pressed to my ear.”
With the release of the album Walk In Beauty in early 2011 a new voice has emerged on to the world stage.
December‘s XS New Artist Of The Month – MICHALA TODD
With a fiercely assured sense-of-self and a barrage of infectious hook laden pop songs, 18-year old Toronto native Michala Todd has emerged to hit pop music with a kind of hunger and resilient optimism that can only reside in the hearts of youth.
Her debut EP “Millions of Pieces,” (produced by Michael Lee & Don Somerville and released in Canada via Fontana North/Universal Music) is a boisterous and fearless record littered with expansive pop hooks and the kind of electric dance rhythms that’ll get inside your bones.
With a voice so completely fueled by her inherent lust for life, Michala delivers a versatile sound that moves swiftly from high-energy dance to pop-rock and right through to spirited power ballads. While she has been honing her vocal abilities as a cross genre artist since the ripe old age of seven, Michala has always known her heart to be wrapped up in pop music.
More information on this month’s XS New Artist of the Month can be found on her website at: http://www.michalatodd.com
October‘s XS New Artist Of The Month – SAL PIAMONTE
Sal Piamonte is no ordinary minstrel and his music is no ordinary sound. If Rob Thomas had Santana’s chops on guitar, then you might come close to Sal Piamonte’s sound. Leafing through Sal Piamonte’s biography is a reading exercise in amateur recording accolades. He certainly has the credibility, and when you listen to his music, you know he has the ability. His lyrics are poignant, not pretentious. His guitar work is catchy, not kitschy. His voice is solid, not sprawling. Piamonte knows his groove, hits it early and often, and at a young age seems to have found his niche. He brings a unique sound and style to his music and the energy on the tracks is palpable. As you listen to the tracks, you can tell how near and dear each of them is to Piamonte’s heart. He plays with emotion and it is tangible in every way. There is no doubt this multi-faceted soul-rocker is racing along his music path. His determination, passion, and energy are unstoppable.
September’s XS New Artist Of The Month – LEXI TELLINGS
August’s XS New Artist Of The Month – JACKIE VALENTINE
“There’s a very good chance you haven’t heard of Jackie Valentine. There’s an even better chance that you will, very soon, and a lot. The sound is pop-redux: classic hooks and rhythms rooted in the ‘60s and ‘70s, but thoroughly new-millennial and infectious…”
“Hey now, I’m a golden king,” sings Kieran Mercer on “Building Walls and Burning Bridges”, from Jackie Valentine’s debut album. He’s almost certainly not addressing himself, but it’d be bang-on if he was. Two years ago, Mercer was just a guy with a handful of demos and a Myspace page. Cut to 2010, and the 22 year old singer-songwriter-guitarist is sitting on a mind-blowing debut album recorded at Vancouver’s Mushroom studios.
His songs make too much of an impact to be “little”, but self-effacement aside, it’s easy to appreciate why the Golden King is dazzled by his current situation. When 604 Records head Jonathan Simkin originally happened upon his DIY Myspace efforts – specifically, a nugget of baroque pop called “The Divorce” that could easily pass as a string-driven Left Banke cover – he advised Mercer to get himself a band. By the time he entered the legendary west coast studio, the industrious Mercer was flanked by guitarist-vocalist Cameron Gray, bassist Martin Leather, drummer Graham Boots, and dream producer Dave Genn.
Clearly, the chemistry was precious – Jackie Valentine and their Midas-fingered knob-twiddler have managed to find a middle ground between Maroon 5 and Paul McCartney on power pop overdrive.
“I think that sense of pop music has been lost,” Mercer pleads, adding that Michael Jackson is another bottom-line influence. “When people hear the word ‘pop’, they think of boy bands and stuff. I’m thinking more along the lines of the Beatles, Elton John, classic rock with a pop feel to it.”It’d take a tin ear to not love this stuff. Or to put it another way, if you’ve ever adored a pop song in all its luminous, feelgood glory, then you know that Jackie Valentine took their one shot and aced it. Mercer has to admit he’s a little “spooked out” that his world is changing faster than the speed of sound. It’s almost like things are working out too well.
Christabel Antonia Spratt (born October 30, 1989), better known by her stage name Chrissy, is a Canadian R&B/Pop singer and songwriter. She was born and raised in Ottawa, Ontario. Spratt was born to an Egyptian mother, Marie-Antoinette and her British-Lebanese father, Richard.
As a child, Spratt aspired to be a singer. During her adolescence, she studied piano and singing. She attended St- Patrick’s High School in Ottawa, where she participated in multiple musical performances and talent shows. Spratt currently attends the University of Ottawa, where she majors in Arts.
June’s XS New Artists Of The Month – LOKZ & GENEVIEVE FISHER:
LOKZ – With awe-inspiring vocals and the right look to go with it, Lokz (pronounced Locks), is a naturally talented vocalist, songwriter and producer from Toronto primed to launch his career. Lokz captures the soulfulness of his influences, Lauryn Hill, Stevie Wonder, Luther Vandross amongst others from the era, as well as his parents (Arlene Duncan and George Koller) both musicians, but interprets it with his own passionate hunger. Those influences have helped construct his intrinsic sonic creations and a powerful release of his inner most secrets, feelings and emotions. All of which will be heard on his debut album “Point of No Return”.
Singing since the age of 5, Lokz realized his passion for music, which has now taken on a life of its own. Encouraged by the praise of his peers for his craft, Lokz stuck with music. Originally, he began working on tracks with friends writing hooks, and assisting with production, before crafting his own compositions. At first he attempted the more conventional route by attending the Trebas Musical Institute for two semesters, before realizing that his desire outgrew the size of a classroom, as it was confining his ingenuity and stunting his growth. It is however, perhaps this lack of traditional training, that helped mold such a focused, driven artist, that stands out from the rest of the formally trained bunch.
GENEVIEVE FISHER – Born and raised in London Ontario, 19 year old Genevieve comes from a rich heritage of Aboriginal and Italian descent. Her father is from Chippewas of the Thames First Nation in Muncey, Ontario and her mother is from Calabria Italy. She is very proud of her heritage and is actively involved in both communities who have embraced her gift of music.
Genevieve has not looked back since winning her first competition while only 2 years old. She cannot remember a time in her life when music was not uppermost in her mind. As a student of music Genevieve is accomplished in piano, violin, and various forms of choir. However, her first love has always been, and still remains, country music. At the age of 13 Genevieve competed at the 30th Annual Canadian Open Country Singing Competition for her age group in Simcoe, Ontario and walked away with top honours.
Genevieve often finds herself out in the community, never saying no to the many organizations that request her talents to help raise money for their causes. In the past she has volunteered her time for various events including The Aboriginal Festival, Native Community Events, Fight against Breast Cancer, Women’s Shelters, Tsunami Disaster Relief, Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, Thyroid Foundation, Children’s Hospitals, Partners in Research and other organizations. She has been asked to perform the National Anthem at countless events including baseball games, The Canadian National Diving Championships and Sportsmen Hall of Fame dinners. Monthly you will still find Genevieve singing for the residents of senior homes and hospitals. This past June, she became the youngest artist to walk away with an award at the London Music Awards in her Ontario hometown as she was selected as the Most Popular Country Artist. Most recently Genevieve, and her newly formed 5 piece band, has had the honour and priveledge of being asked to open for recording artist Crystal Shawanda on 2 occassions. Her world continues to grow with many exciting new projects in the works for the future. This includes recording her first CD featuring a number of tracks written by Genevieve.
May’s XS New Artist of the Month – LUKAS ROSSI
Rossi trained in Toronto and later formed and fronted two bands in Canada. The first was Cleavage (1995–2005) with brothers Jonathan and Bill Jamieson. The Toronto-based band won the “Best Canadian Unsigned Band” award at the 2000 NXNE Music Festival in Toronto. In 2004, Rossi entered into a publishing deal with EMI Music Canada. After acquiring this deal, Rossi worked and wrote with producer Dave Tyson in Los Angeles and later recorded demos with producer Gavin Brown (Billy Talent, Three Days Grace). In 2005, Rossi partnered with Pulse Ultra’s guitarist, Dominic Cifarelli, and his friend, Jay Cianfrini, to form a band in Montreal called Rise Electric.
Rossi and two of his colleagues, Mike Fox and Gavin Brown, were winners in the 2006 People’s Voice International Songwriting Competition for their song, “Drive”. It gained third place honors in the Top 40/Pop category and landed Seventh Place in the overall competition.
April’s XS New Artist of the Month – NATE HALL!
Nate Hall is a talented and original young singer/songwriter from Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, who has a unique voice mixed with an acoustic pop vibe. Nate has just recorded his first two singles “Things” and “Out of My Mind” at Ear Candy Studio. Recently, Nate’s song “Things” was picked up by the Missing Children’s Society of Canada and is the official song of the I STOP Movement to end child abduction. “Things” is now available on iTunes with all proceeds going to the Missing Children’s Society of Canada. Nate has just been named The New 99.1 CKXS Artist of the Month for April, 2011. Go check out Nate’s latest single, “Out of My Mind” on iTunes.
On December 10th, 2010, Nate released a 5-track CD, recorded at Number 9 Studio in Toronto, Ontario, with all proceeds from the sales going directly to Friends Without a Border, a charity committed to improving the health and well being of children in Cambodia. The CD was distributed by local Starbucks Coffee Shops, as well as at a follow-up charity concert. Following the success of this project, Nate’s CD was selected to be sold at the New York, Tokyo and Vancouver chapters of Friends Without a Border.
March’s XS New Artist of the Month – KETSIA!
Indie phenomenon, KETSIA, continues to tear up the charts. Last summer her hit single “Possible” went to #9 on Billboard Magazine’s “Emerging Artists”. By August it was charting on Billboard’s “Hot 100”. After a HUGE opening week, Ketsia’s latest single “Just Let Me Go,” debuted at #83 on Billboard’s “Hot 100” chart and #4 on Billboard’s “Emerging Canadian Artists” chart (February 2011). “Just Let Me Go” has since climbed up 34 spots to #49 on Billboard’s “Hot 100” chart (March 2011).
ME Magazine, watching Ketsia’s single “Quand je t’ai rencontré” race towards national Gold download status, featured her in its summer 2010 issue as a “Rising Star.” With a rapidly increasing online presence (over 20,000 Facebook fans), and radio air play from east to west, Ketsia is headed nowhere but up.
Her debut album, “Une Reine Est Née” shows why. From the undeniably rocky pulse of “Let It Go” to the dance grooving “Down Pour Toi”, Ketsia delivers a rocking, grooving set backed by live guitars, basses, drums and a mother lode of funky keyboards and samplers. Small wonder an impressive list of Canadian talent lined up to join her on this album: Vancouver’s Ryan Stewart (Carly Rae Jepsen, Canadian Idol); Russell Klyne (Nelly Furtado, K-OS); and Montréal’s own Joe Barrucco (MC Mario, Samantha Fox, 3 JUNO-nominated tracks). A “show-stopper” who genuinely loves performing, Ketsia lights up the stage.
Like Montreal, the city where she was born and raised, Ketsia’s unique style reflects a mix of cultural and musical influences: her Haitian heritage, her background as a child choral singer, and her singing and songwriting for a variety of genres, from R&B, Pop, and Hip-Hop, to Dance. Her dance musical style, in both English and French, is fun and infectious, at times bold, at times reflective, but always from the heart. With her come-as-you-are-attitude, lyrical voice, and undeniably positive spirit, this indie star is making her mark with music fans worldwide.
Listen to her music online at www.ketsiamusic.com or www.myspace.com/ketsiamusic,and join Ketsia’s Facebook fan page. Ketsia can also be found on iLike, iTunes, Puretracks, and YouTube, where her music video “Let It Go (Remix)” has been viewed over 100,000 times.
Don’t be the last to jump on the K-Train!
When it comes to precocious, British Columbia’s newest recording artist Cynthia Leigh-Ann knows what she wants. Her spunky enthusiasm, big voice, and a spirit to match; has this pretty blue-eyed 19-year-old Country-Pop Artist making a splash in British Columbia and Alberta since 2007.
Cynthia supports the Arts through Associations and Charities, and is proud to be a World Vision Artist.
Since she was a little girl, Cynthia Leigh-Ann’s first love has always been music. She demonstrates a broad range of vocal influences, wants people to feel the passion and stories behind her songs. Cynthia Leigh-Ann was heavily influenced by artists; Terry Clarke, Shania Twain, Jessie Farrell, Carrie Underwood, Taylor Swift, and Rascal Flatts.
Cynthia Leigh-Ann had the privilege of working with Producer/Singer/Songwriter, Darrel Keith Norman out of Nashville, Tenn., where she recorded two of the songs that will be on her debut album. Production by Big Audio Studio. Producers Bob Gablehouse and Adam Haggarty. Her Album will be release January 2011 through
RDR Music Group, with her Single “Daddy’s Girl”
Since she was a little girl, Cynthia Leigh-Ann’s first love has always been music, She demonstrates a broad range of vocal influences wants people to feel the passion and stories behind her songs Cynthia Leigh-Ann was heavily influenced by Terry Clarke, Shania Twain, Jessie Farrell, Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift
Cynthia Leigh-Ann had the privilege of working with Producer/singer/songwriter, Darrel Keith Norman out of Nashville, Tenn., where she recorded two of the songs that will be on her new album. She is currently wrapping up her debut album with Producer Bob Gablehouse, and her current release “Missing You” is breaking barriers for the first ever XS New Artist of the Month, CYNTHIA LEIGH-ANN!
Check out more on Cynthia and her music out at www.cynthialeighann.ca