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WinterJAM100: Real Country with Michelle Wright

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Saturday, January 24th, 2015
8:00 PM

Since her 1988 debut CD on Savannah Records, Do Right By Me, Michelle Wright has been drawing rave reviews for her expressive voice and her distinctive style. Over the ensuing twenty‐four years, she has sold nearly two million albums in the United States and Canada and enjoys an international career, one that has seen her grace concert stages across North America and appear in Europe, Africa, South America, Australia and Asia. Michelle has amassed a total of twenty‐five Top Ten radio hits in her homeland of Canada and walked to podiums in music centers like Los Angeles and Toronto to accept more than forty major awards. She is the first Canadian‐born artist in the modern era of country music to have a Top Ten hit in America (Take It Like A Man, 1992) and a Number One video on CMT‐USA (Take It Like A Man, 1992), and to win a major U.S. music industry award (Academy of Country Music Top New Female Artist, 1993). In September, 2011, Michelle was inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame.

Growing up in Merlin, Ontario, a small Canadian farming community near Chatham, Michelle heard the rhythm & blues and Motown hits coming out of Detroit, just forty‐five minutes away. But especially she heard the strains of country music, since her parents were both country performers. “My earliest memories of music are singing in the car, or spending the weekend with my father after my parents separated and watching him put on a rhinestone‐studded suit to perform in.” As a young girl, she tagged along on countless jobs. “We never were a family band, but I got a lot of inspiration and encouragement from my mother. That’s where my love of country music really began.

After a year of college, studying counseling for the mentally disadvantaged, Michelle set off to tour North America. By 1988, she had released an album in Canada, Do Right By Me, on Savannah Records. Do Right By Me was a major hit in her homeland, with 7 chart singles and sales well over 40,000 copies, and it opened many doors in the United States. The American country music world was impressed, and the new Arista/Nashville label made Michelle one of its flagship artists.

The Academy of Country Music named Michelle its Top New Female Vocalist in May, 1993. Michelle catapulted to superstardom in Canada the same year, receiving a total of twelve music industry awards, including the Canadian Country Music Association’s Fans’ Choice Entertainer Of The Year award and double platinum honors for Now & Then. The momentum generated by her next release, The Reasons Why (1994), enabled Michelle to headline a triumphant forty‐city Canadian concert tour during the first quarter of 1995, at that time the most extensive tour in the history of the country music business in Canada. She hosted the 1995 Canadian Country Music Awards and finished the evening in grand style, receiving her second award as the CCMA’s Fans’ Choice Entertainer Of The Year.

In 1996 Michelle released her next Arista/Nashville project, For Me It’s You. Perhaps her most personal album, it reminds Michelle of the important relationship she enjoys with her fans. “For me it is them, because when I get on that stage every night, no matter what’s going on in my world, the audience makes me feel like, for right now, I’m okay, for right now, I’m full of joy.” And Michelle shares that joy. Her devotion to her fans and her love of performing have made her a headline attraction, not only for the public but at major corporate events as well. She has performed at conventions across North America for over forty major corporations, including General Motors, Daimler Chrysler, Ford, McDonald’s, Toyota, Cable & Wireless, Bombardier, and Cracker Barrel.

Michelle started to explore her diverse talents and broke new ground along the way. For Me It’s You marked the first time one of Michelle’s own songs, the stirring What Love Looks Like, was made available to her American fans. After co‐hosting the TNN/Music City News Awards show in 1994, and hosting the CCMA Awards in 1995, her ease in front of the camera led to her guest appearance on the syndicated series “Due South.” In 1997 she became the first artist to appear on the cover of the Sears catalog in Canada. At the CCMAs later that year she delivered a show‐stopping, gospel‐tinged rendition of the Curtis Mayfield hit, People Get Ready, accompanied by a fifty‐voice choir. A personal career highlight for Michelle, she reflects, “I still get goose bumps whenever I hear that version.

Shortly thereafter Michelle had the opportunity to participate in a history‐making project when veteran record producer Michael Blakey invited her to lend her voice to volume one of the Patsy Cline Duets. The album features both legendary and new talent teamed with Cline on some of her most memorable songs. Produced by weaving the contemporary voices into the classic Cline recordings, Michelle duets with Cline on the classic Walkin’ After Midnight. This opportunity continued an association with Cline that began in 1993 when she read letters Patsy had composed on camera in “Remembering Patsy,” the A&E television special commemorating the thirtieth anniversary of Cline’s death.

1998 heard Michelle collaborating with pianist Jim Brickman, performing the hit Your Love for release in Canada. The video for Your Love topped the CMT Canada charts, and the CCMA named the single its Vocal/Instrumental Collaboration of the Year. The success of Your Love did not go unnoticed by Brickman’s label, New York‐based Windham Hill Records. The collaboration was included on Brickman’s CD, Destiny, and released to U.S. adult contemporary radio in October, 1999. Your Love became a Top Twenty AC hit in early 2000, Michelle’s best‐performing single in the U.S. since Take It Like A Man.

At the dawn of the new millennium, Michelle marked her ten‐year association with Arista Nashville with the international release of her latest American album, Michelle Wright: The Greatest Hits Collection. The album contained eleven of the songs that shaped Michelle’s career since she signed with Arista. They appeared in near‐chronological order, rolling out the soundtrack of Michelle’s life: New Kind Of Love, All You Really Wanna Do, Take It Like A Man, He Would Be Sixteen, Guitar Talk, Now & Then, One Good Man, Safe In The Arms Of Love, Nobody’s Girl, What Love Looks Like, and The Answer Is Yes. The album also contained five songs never before found on a Michelle Wright album: two new songs co‐written by Michelle, When I Found You and I Surrender, plus Your Love, her gospel version of People Get Ready, and her Walkin’ After Midnight duet with Patsy Cline.

Michelle Wright: The Greatest Hits Collection offered listeners a sonic overview of ten magical years punctuated by highlight after memorable highlight. Michelle is proud of the achievement her Greatest Hits Collection represents. “It felt great to be at that point in my career. Very early on, when I first hit the road with a bunch of guys, crisscrossing North America in an old van, sleeping in the back on top of a couple of Peavey guitar amps, I could only dream about having enough hits to make a greatest hits package. And then there we were.” But the collection is not simply a measure of dreams fulfilled for Michelle: it also chronicles her growth as an artist. “When I listen to the album from start to finish, I can hear my development as a vocalist, and I’m happy with how I’ve grown and how I sound today. And I’m excited by the fact that these days I’m writing most of my new material: in some ways, ironic as this may seem, it makes me feel like I’m just getting started.

Tickets at:

Cost: Adult: $39.99
Category: Concerts | Music
    Country | Bluegrass
Location: Sid Williams Theatre
442 Cliffe Avenue, Courtenay
This event is for Everyone
More Info: WinterJam100
[email protected]
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