The Voice of Country Music in Canada April 30/03

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CMN'S TOP CD PICKS OF 2002 :- Check the January issue of COUNTRY MUSIC NEWS for the annual listing of Top Dozen 'Cancountry' CD's of 2002; and the "Top 100 Cancountry Hits of 2002". Also featured are lists of the 'Best' and 'Worst' of Nashville's Country CD's of 2002.
Canadian Country Stars to Tour Australia - Paul Brandt, Jason McCoy, The Wilkinsons and Fred Eaglesmith are part of a Canadian package show that will tour Australia in January, including performances at the famed Tamworth Music Festival. Also touring 'Down Under' in January are Canadian stars Sean Hogan and The Laws.
Country Legends Tour Canada in 2003: Country music fans in Canada will be treated to major tours in the first-quarter of 2003 by country music legends George Jones and Roy Clark; as well as the latest edition of the "Still making Memories" tour by Canadian Hall of Famer, Tommy Hunter.
Tommy Hunter TV Show Special:- CBC-TV will air an hour-long "Tommy Hunter Show" Special, scheduled for Springtime 2003. The Special, being taped in Toronto studios in early January, will feature special guests, and many of the regulars from the original "Tommy Hunter Show", which ran for 26 years on the Network during the 70's through the early 90's.
American Music Awards - Canadian country star Carolyn Dawn Johnson is among the three nominees in the Favorite New Country Artist category in the American Music Awards, to be telecast January 13 on ABC-TV. Carolyn Dawn Johnson will be touring across Canada in February with Nashville recording star Keith Urban and CCMA's reigning Roots Artist award-winner, Jimmy Rankin.
NEW MUSIC COMING SOON :- Fans can watch for new albums coming in early 2003 by Terri Clark (Pain To Kill); Gil Grand (Burnin'); and the Aaron Lines debut, Livin' Out Loud.

Stay Tuned!!

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CMN Interview With NORM BRUNET

NORM BRUNET is creating a buzz with his latest CD release; but there’s something a bit different this time around.

Brunet’s new CD, Life Goes On, has caught the fancy of radio stations across Quebec – a feat that is noteworthy because the album is English in content and ‘country’ to boot. The Beauceville, Quebec-born singer/songwriter, now based out of Ottawa, has been a long-time player on the Canadian music scene, having previously released his Me & My Guitar album in the early 90’s, generating some decent airplay at the national level.

His new collection of original tunes has been created with a ‘born-again’ outlook on life and what it has to offer. Brunet takes a ‘no-holds barred’ approach with his songs, and that in itself may be the key that has helped open some new doors to his music.

Country Music News (CMN) had the opportunity recently to chat with Norm Brunet about his new music….

CMN: That was quite a stretch in between album releases. Were you still active in the music biz, or just taking extra time with the creative aspects of a new album?
NORM BRUNET: I took a much-needed rest away from the music business! After 16 years of 250-plus shows a year in some great venues as well as just about every hole in the wall here and abroad I was physically and mentally drained and, as an independent artist, tired of fighting the system and not getting anywhere.

CMN: You seem to be getting a lot of action on Quebec radio stations with the title track from your new "Life Goes On" album. Has the music also been recorded and released in a French format or is the airplay coming from the English version?
NB: No…it has been released in its original English format and is on fire throughout the Province! Record labels have long overlooked Quebec and oddly enough the largest percentage of record sales in Canada come from that province.
I attribute the success I’m receiving to several factors: 1) an excellent product; 2) I have a radio promotions team that has been voted the best for two years in a row from Les Adisqs, the Junos equivalent in that province; 3) for promotional purposes, the fact that I am perfectly bilingual makes it easy for music programmers to relate to and on-air personalities to interview; and, 4) a good distribution deal with Distribution Select; the album is in all of the major record stores across Canada.
The radio format in Quebec is not like the rest of Canada where a station will play one kind of music. I’m on Le Palmares charts alongside Santana, U2 and all of today’s greats, so they are a lot more receptive if you have a good product and a good promotion team behind you.

CMN: Being born in Beauceville, Quebec, and raised in a French family atmosphere in Ottawa, what have been your musical influences through the years? How were you first introduced to “country” music?
NB: As a teen growing up in the mid-70’s the radio formats were mixed back then; you could hear a Waylon Jennings alongside of The Beatles or Frank Sinatra! So at an early age I was exposed to a wide variety of music and that gave me the ammunition to write the way I do. Why it came to ‘country’ I can’t explain however on my albums there is a definite nod to the country-tinged sounds of bands that I really liked and influenced me, such as The Eagles, Poco, Loggins & Messina, The Byrds to name a few.

CMN: Several songs on your new "Life Goes On" album are reprised from the first album you cut a decade ago. Was there a special reason behind doing this?
NB: - I felt that those three songs hadn’t been given the proper treatment back then as far as production value was concerned and as you can hear some of the lyrics have been re-written, the songs have been re-arranged and now I feel they are much stronger for it. Besides not too many people heard the last album other than the singles that played at radio so to me it didn’t matter much.

CMN: - One of the songs that has been re-done on your new album is "It Ain’t Right If Nothing’s Wrong". That’s a terrific ‘country/blues’ song that has obvious ‘crossover’ potential. Are you marketing your music outside of the “country” format?
NB: - Not for the first single "Life Goes On". The new release, "I Need Your Love", which goes to radio in April and is already playing in Quebec is being promoted in various formats. If the response is good we will continue on that path.

CMN:- The new album was produced by Quebec’s Michel LaFrancois. How did you enjoy that experience? What new elements of your own talent did you bring to the session?
NB:- Michel and I go back 12 years and as Quebec’s most honored producer, having never worked with a country artist before, it was a challenge that he embraced and as you can hear it is a well crafted, big production album with all kinds of potential. Having never worked with someone of his caliber it was a learning experience and great honor to have rubbed elbows and co-produced with Michel at Verdun’s Star Studios. This is the album that I always wanted to record and I’m very proud of it.

CMN:- You wrote all of the songs on "Life Goes On". Is songwriting a passion for you? Are you pitching your compositions to others?
NB:- Michel wrote the music for the title track and I wrote the lyrics and music for the rest of the album. I would have to say that as you get older songwriting doesn’t get easier for an artist. During my hiatus I took the time to reflect and observe the situations around me and it permitted me to write songs like the title track "Life Goes On", a song that really looks at today’s fast-paced world and how we get lost in pursuing the almighty dollar !! Or a song like "Mommy Won’t Be Here Today", a look at parenting from a father’s perspective.
I would be honored if someone ever asked me to but I have enough on my plate writing for myself.

CMN:- What are you expecting from this new album?
NB: - After my long hiatus I came back with a new perspective on life and most of all the music business. Unlike my previous years as a recording and performing artist, I no longer fuss and fret over whether I will climb the charts or get that all important TV show to perform on or sell a tons of albums. I refuse to get caught up in that vicious circle, it’s not healthy, especially now that the industry has changed so much and has become increasingly unfriendly to Canadian independent artists. As you can hear on country radio these days, its pretty much “American Country radio” with the exception of the allotted Can-Con artists that all have American deals??? I’m having fun with it this time and I’m quite willing to go the extra mile for it, but my experience tells me to simply have fun.

CMN:- Do you have any upcoming plans for a promotional tour? How receptive has ‘radio’ across the country been to your new music?
NB:- I’m presently performing a few shows throughout Quebec as well as promoting at radio and television (strike when the iron is hot). Plans are in the making for the same at radio level for the rest of the country for the new single. We’ll see what the response is and go from there.
Radio response has been good across the country and especially in Quebec, but in spite of having a good radio promotion team for Canada with Music Solutions, it’s more of an uphill battle there than in my home province of Quebec; and yet my product is in English???

CMN:- What would you most like to achieve with your music and songs?
NB: I’m not out to change the world or use my status to speak out on something. I believe artists should stick to what they do best and that is to entertain and bring joy to listeners and music fans. If my songs provoke a thought, great; if I make someone happy even better. So far it seems to have done just that and I’m enjoying myself in the process.
Life Goes On !!

For more information on NORM BRUNET, visit the website:-

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