With another year of Juno’s in the history books the thought occurred to me last night that, well for one, Canadian Country Music is not very well represented at the awards that are supposed to represent the best of Canada and, for two, Canadian Country is all but absent on the international scene, or at least south of the border.
Canadian music is hotter than ever with Canadian artists like Drake, Justin Bieber, Alessia Cara, Shawn Mendes and The Weeknd holding down numerous spots on Billboard’s Top 100, a handful (or two) in the top 40. But there’s a noticeable absence of Canadian Country. Even the Canadian Top 50 is riddled with Canadian artists but not a single country artist made the cut. Even during the Juno Awards broadcast there was a moment where it seemed as though they were poking fun at country music by mumbling incoherently into the microphone as though they couldn’t name any country songs.
So what’s wrong with this picture? Is Canadian Country Music the laughing stock of the country? the butt of the jokes at the biggest awards night we have? Where are the Canadian country artists on the US Country stations? Interestingly enough many Canadian artists have recorded songs written by American Songwriters, and vice versa (Chad Brownlee – Hearts on Fire written by Erik Dylan, Blake Shelton – Mine Would Be You written by Deric Ruttan)…but apparently that’s not enough.
South of the border you hear artists like Blake Shelton, Sam Hunt, Florida Georgia Line, Luke Bryan to name just a few what’s wrong with Canadian counterparts Dean Brody, Tim Hicks, Brett Kissel, The Road Hammers, Gord Bamford, Jason Blaine or even Johnny Reid (even though I feel he’s more Adult Contemporary than country)? In Canada Brett Kissel can headline his own tour coast to coast and sell out venues…but when Garth Brooks comes to town he’s resigned to a 3 song opening set? An unknown songwriter from Garth’s backup band got a longer set than one of Canada’s best known, and most loved, artists.
Perhaps the problem is we in Canada don’t take country music seriously? Look at the US Award shows, at the Grammy’s and American Music Awards country music is featured prominently, sure they feature other genres too but country gets a fair shake.
So why does American Country Radio not pick up more Canadian artists? SirusXM The Highway has been known to play Canadian content, just the other day I heard Madeline Merlo’s latest single on that station but when I listen to the local country station where I live, Q102, which happens to be broadcast out of New York State you’d be hard pressed to hear a Canadian artist. Is this a CRTC thing? or is it something else? Maybe I just don’t understand how radio works, I guess I skipped that class when I studied Radio Broadcasting back in the early 90’s (yes I’m old I was in college from 93-95 studying Radio Broadcasting lol).
Perhaps Nashville is the problem…when dealing with Country Music in the US the world revolves around Nashville and if you aren’t there you don’t exist. When dealing with pop or rock music there is no real epicenter, you can be based in Toronto, Los Angeles or even Ottawa and find success on an international scale. Could that be the secret? Does the country music world need to broaden its horizons and take the blinders that only allow it to see music that was born in Nashville?
But on another note up here in Canada we have been known to give the coveted Album of the Year Award to a Christmas Album…food for thought! Perhaps it’s Canada in general that isn’t taken seriously but if that’s the case how do we explain the massive success by the artists I named above?
It is worth a mention that it hasn’t always been this way…Terri Clark has seen success in the United States as did Shania Twain but they are part of a very limited group of extraordinarily talented Canadian Country artists that figured out the combination to success in the US.
But on that note I would like to congratulate both Dean Brody and Johnny Reid on their big Juno wins this weekend and thank Canadian country artists for being some of the classiest people I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know over the last 6 years. Also my heartfelt congratulations to all of last night’s Juno, ACM and iHeartRadio awards winners and to the nominees as well.
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