Brett Kissel crowned king of country, fan favourite at CCMA Awards
Alberta singer 'inspired' by Trump and Clinton
Brett Kissel's no-holds-barred campaign to woo country enthusiasts paid off Sunday as the Alberta singer was named fan favourite as well as top male artist of the year at the Canadian Country Music Association Awards.
Kissel, 26, said he drew inspiration from U.S. politics in lobbying for the fans' choice title, which he deemed the "most coveted" of the show.
"Now that I've spent so much time in Nashville and watching the presidential race with Clinton and Trump, I've been inspired because it's like no stone left unturned, these people don't hold off any punches," he said Sunday before the awards ceremony.
'Vote for Brett Kissel'
"My big motto's been, 'Don't vote for Trump, don't vote for Clinton, vote for Brett Kissel.'"
The Alberta singer was crowned king of Canadian country a decade after first attending the awards as a contender for the title of rising star.
He went into this year's London, Ont., ceremony as a leading nominee, tied with British Columbia's Dean Brody with five nominations, many of them pitting the pair against each other.
While Kissel won the top honours — as well as the title of top interactive artist for a second consecutive year — the two took home the same amount of hardware, with Brody also claiming three prizes.
Brody was named songwriter of the year for his song Bring Down The House, which also earned him the titles of single of the year and CMT video of the year.
The song is also one of two platinum singles for the 41-year-old — both Bring Down The House and Canadian Girls sold more than 100,000 digital copies.
9 CCMA Awards
Brody, who first envisioned a career writing songs for country stars such as Kenny Chesney before taking a swing at stardom himself, said the songwriter prize was particularly close to his heart.
The Jaffray, B.C., native collected a Juno for best country album earlier this year, and already counts nine CCMA Awards on his mantel.
Pop-country singer Jess Moskaluke from Langenburg, Sask., was named female artist of the year for the third time in a row.
Asked before the show about the prospect of maintaining her streak, Moskaluke said it was "pretty surreal."
"It doesn't feel real, it's such a dream," she said.
Last year's big winner, Gord Bamford, was nominated in four categories and took home the prize for album of the year for Tin Roof.
'Country music's changed so much'
The 40-year-old said he went out of his comfort zone with the album, which included working with a different producer.
"Country music's changed so much," he said after receiving his award, an evolution he credited with drawing a new, younger fan base to the genre.
"It was a little bit scary for me to venture out and try something different," he said.
After three months away from home, Bamford said he looked forward to returning to his family in Nashville, Tenn., on Monday.
High Valley named group of the year
High Valley, brothers from Blumenort, Alta., was named group of the year. The duo said each year has been better than the last and their musical career is "ramping up fast."
The Washboard Union, who are based in Vancouver, were deemed the year's rising star as well as the top roots artist.
Two of the band's members, Aaron Grain and Chris Duncombe, met at age 13 when their parents started dating.
Both said the rising star prize was particularly meaningful to them.