A star on stage, with his heart on the ranch

Brett Kissel, a rising star in country music, will be bringing his Airwaves tour to the Yukon Arts Centre on Monday, Nov. 30.  

Kissel is happy to include the Yukon during his 2015-16 tour.

“I wanted to make this a truly Canadian tour, that’s why I’m excited to hit all the provinces and territories. I’m especially excited to come up to Whitehorse,” he says of his first time visit.

Kissel’s star is rising fast. Born and raised on a cattle ranch in Flat Lake, Alberta, he got his first guitar at age six, and released his first album, Keepin’ It Country, when he was just 12 years old.

At age 16, Kissel was nominated for the Chevy Trucks Rising Star Award at the Canadian Country Music Association Awards, making him the youngest CCMA nominee in the history of the awards show.

After signing with Warner Music Canada in 2013, Kissel’s debut single, “Started with a Song,” was released, and the rest has been a meteoric rise up the country ladder, including touring Canada with Brad Paisley, winning two Association of Country Music in Alberta Awards awards, a Juno Award, and three Canadian Country Music Awards.

Kissel now lives in Nashville, Tennessee. His life has become fast paced and competitive, and though he’s thriving, he’s still burning the candle at both ends. He says that regrouping at the ranch he grew up on is important to him.

“I love to go back home to put it all in perspective,” he says. “If it wasn’t for the farm, I wouldn’t find my centre.”

He recharges by breathing in the quiet life, riding his quad and chasing cows.

“It’s my happy place.”

While he maintains that he can write songs anywhere, he usually doesn’t while he’s back at the ranch.

“I’m focusing on recharging,” he says. “I take the memories and experiences of home back with me to the office and then write the songs.”

Even though Kissel has found chart success and has had the opportunity to meet such legends as George Strait and Garth Brooks, he says he still pinches himself when he sits down and works with multi-Grammy award winning songwriters to come up with ideas.

“It’s incredible,” he says.

Kissel’s nose-to-the-grindstone work ethic, his connection to his audience while performing on stage and his love of staying in touch with his fans via social media is paying off. His latest single, “Airwaves,” reached number one on the Canada Country chart in September 2015.  

Yet despite all his recent achievements, Kissel remains humble. He considers himself very fortunate to be a 25-year-old guy touring the world and says that at heart, he’s still the same kid who grew up on that cattle ranch in Alberta.

“Everything has gone so fast, but I’m still the same guy who gets up in the morning, puts on his cowboy boots and starts writing songs.”

Brett Kissel plays the Yukon Arts Centre on Nov. 30 at 8 p.m.

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