You may have heard her catchy singles “With You Whiskey” and “Honey” on Canadian country radio or heard her smooth vocals at one of her live performances across Eastern Ontario. This Ottawa-area talent has come a long way since recording her first album at 15 – and after one listen to her songs, it’s clear she will go far. Read below as Brea shares with the CMAO how she finds inspiration, why she gives back through her music, and what’s in store for her this year.
Stephanie Brooks (SB): Congratulations on all your recent successes, especially the popularity of your two latest singles! This must be an exciting time for you.
Brea Lawrenson (BL): Thank you! Most recently, “With You Whiskey” has climbed up to number 63 on the Canadian charts, which is pretty good because I don’t have a record label yet. A lot of stations are trying to get to know who I am right now, so I think it’s going well so far.
I’m also working on my new album that’s coming out this year and I’m really excited for it to be finished. I’ve been traveling back-and-forth to Nashville for a few years to write with some great writers and record at a studio there, so all my music will be done in Nashville on my new album.
SB: When will it be released?
BL: The end of summer or fall. I’ve released four songs from it that I’m selling at shows now, including “With You Whiskey” and “Honey.”
SB: It seems you’ve been busy playing quite a few shows in the area lately.
BL: Oh, yes – I play every weekend! Last weekend I was in Quebec, in Portage du Fort – I’m all over the countryside.
SB: Where does the motivation behind your music come from?
BL: Definitely from things I’ve experienced… that’s how I started writing. Typically things that I go through or I’ll look at a friend or situation they’ve been through. Lately, I’ve tried to challenge myself… when you get to the point in your career when you’re writing and your songs are being played on commercial radio, you want to make sure you write songs your audience can relate to, so I’m thinking outside-the-box and trying to find that special song.
SB: You’ve also released songs dedicated to causes you’re passionate about, including support for the military and anti-bullying. Why was this something that was important to you?
BL: I’m actually kind of a shy person; my music has helped me come out of my shell a bit. In my younger days, I was bullied and kind of isolated in school, so music was a way for me to express myself and it was a place I could go to. That’s how I got involved in the anti-bullying campaign with the Canadian Red Cross. My mom has always been such a backbone in my career and one of the things she’s always told me is ‘your music and your voice is a gift and something you have to use to help give back,’ and that’s been my main mantra. Music has changed me so many times and I want to make sure I can share that or help somebody with it.
SB: This is shaping up to be quite the year for you so far, and it’s only January! What are you most looking forward to sharing with fans in 2014?
BL: I’m definitely looking forward to playing some big festivals and meeting more and more fans – it seems like every live performance I play there is a new group of people coming out and they want my CDs! It’s just a huge, refreshing part of my career and it has taken a few years to get to this point. It feels like everyone wants to have a picture with me or an autograph; its overwhelming, but I love it! This is what I’ve worked so hard for and now I’m finally seeing the results. I’m really loving those live shows and being able to communicate and interact with my fans.
I’m also going to be releasing a new video in a few months, as well as the new single around the same time. I’m really focusing on radio and hoping Canadian radio is going to continue to be as supportive as they have been and hopefully get some more stations on board.
SB: It’s nice to see such great country music talent come from the Ottawa valley. Do you take pride in being an artist from Ontario?
BL: Oh yes. This part of Ontario is so supportive; the musical community is so supportive of each other. My fans have been amazing. That’s what really stands out… I still can’t believe it every time I do a show!
There was an online poll that was done recently by a local country music blogger for performers that should play at Boots & Hearts, and I was up against acts like Taylor Swift and Reba – and I was leading the poll by about 24 per cent! When I saw it I thought I was reading it wrong… I could not believe it. That’s an example of how amazing the support is from local fans.