By Chris Brown on March 15, 2019.
Ask Michelle Wright about the state of Canadian country music today and she’s got plenty to say – all of it good.
Ask her about the impact she had on it by becoming the first Canadian-born artist in a generation to have a top 10 hit (“Take it Like a Man”) in the U.S. and putting out a string of charting singles (“One Time Around,” “One Good Man,” “Nobody’s Girl”) in the early- and mid-1990s though and she’s a little stumped.
“It’s a great thing to see,” Wright said about the likes of Dallas Smith, Dean Brody, Lindsay Ell and more making radio waves on both sides of the border. “It’s great to see my friends have careers regardless of where the deal comes from or whether they have a deal.”
Wright and artists like Medicine Hat native Terri Clark, Paul Brandt and Shania Twain had the spotlight shining brightly on Canadian country music about 25 years ago. Beginning then a steady stream of talent has gone south to Nashville. That stream is more like a river now.
When it comes to her part in that, Wright said she appreciates but shies away from people giving her any bit of credit.
“Blazing the trail is something people ask me about and I’m not really sure how to answer that sometimes,” she said last month. “But I am learning that young artists do want to know my story and how I did what I did.”
She sums it up as showing tenacity, having a vision, working hard for it and having a little bit of good fortune.
She’ll share a lot more of the story and the music at An Intimate Evening with Michelle Wright on Monday at the Esplanade. Show time is 8 p.m.
As she was putting together the show she said she remembers during her days playing the clubs looking forward to playing her original songs. Now she’s got so many to choose from in her career she’s going to have to leave some out.
“I’m going to share the hits and a couple of new things I’ve recorded and I’m going to share a couple of things we’re going to record,” she said. “From the beginning to what I look forward to doing in the future.”
The present and future for Wright includes a different way of producing music. As independent artist, she doesn’t have a label behind her. Questioning the viability of producing a full album every couple of years, she’s been releasing digital singles recently. Never one to enjoy the months-long process it takes to put an album out, she enjoys the immediacy of the digital singles strategy.
“I have a song right now I just wrote that’s pretty cool that we’re looking at getting out right away. That’s exciting to me.”
The digital singles keep Wright in front of the people listening to today’s crop of musical talent.
“Some of my friends are selling 100,000 copies of one single. Now that’s at a dollar a shot but we were selling albums and I was fortunate to sell even a couple million,” she said. “But when you’re selling 100,000 singles in Canada that’s pretty awesome. It’s a whole new way of music being made and sold for our Canadian artists that’s really been great.”
Tickets for Michelle Wright, who promises a night you’ll remember, are available at tixx.ca, by calling 403-502-8777 or in person at the Esplanade box office or the Medicine Hat Mall customer service desk.
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