2016 allan slaight honour recipient
After headlining one of Canada's top country music festivals, Brett Kissel returned home to the cattle ranch in north eastern Alberta as the sun was rising, to catch a few hours of sleep.
A knock on the bedroom door came from his grandfather, asking the country crooner to help with the morning chores.
"Grandpa," Kissel said from under the covers, "I just performed last night and have had no sleep. Are you sure I have to?"
Then his grandfather replied with one of Kissel's favorite one-liners of all time:
"Wake your a** up! You ain't no country star on the farm!"
For years, he was Alberta's best kept secret, releasing his first recording just months after his 12th birthday - but this "Canadian Kid" is as much a veteran in the country music business as artists 30 years older.
Brett Kissel, the proud ranch kid from Flat Lake, Alberta, has a list of accolades a country mile wide, including a JUNO Award for "Breakthrough Artist of the Year", which marked the first time a country singer won the trophy in almost 20 years, as well as a tractor bucket full of Canadian Country Music Awards and nominations. He's toured with Garth Brooks, Brad Paisley, and has performed on the sacred stage at the Grand Ole Opry - but it's not the awards or accolades that mean most to Kissel - the 26-year-old husband and father of a new baby girl. It's the music. The stage. And the fans.
Whether he's performing one of his gold hits like "Started With a Song" or "3-2-1", or his number one smash "Airwaves", Kissel was born to perform, and hits the stage every night with a strong rural work ethic, a youthful charm, unrivaled charisma, and infectious enthusiasm.
"There's nothing I'd rather do, and nowhere I'd rather be than performing on a stage," says Kissel. "I would actually say that I'm addicted to it!"
And Kissel's parents and grandparents, on the century old cattle ranch in Alberta will attest, as often photographs will surface of a young Kissel standing on the kitchen counter with a wooden spoon in his hand - acting as a microphone.
Perhaps it was this passion and energy that caught the eye of global mega star Garth Brooks, who invited Kissel to open a number of shows for him this year. As the first Canadian to ever stand before the legendary artist who's sold over 165 million albums, it couldn't have been a better fit for the sold out crowds to witness the rookie and the legend together onstage.
Sure, once upon a time he was Alberta's best kept secret, but now there's no stopping the sure fire trajectory that Brett Kissel is on.
In a few short years Brett Kissel has solidified his place in the national and international music industry, and is this year's proud recipient of the Allan Slaight Honour.