Sony Music Canada’s newest rising star, Kira Isabella, called us yesterday from her home in Ottawa. She’s home for the holidays after an “amazing” year, which really isn’t over yet! She’ll be leaving for Nashville shortly after Christmas for some writing sessions on her debut album, due out next Spring. The bubbly, teenaged singer-songwriter has been all over the country with her own brand of up-tempo country music, which she has been performing since she was a little girl. She might be young but don’t let her age fool you: Kira is a star and will be Canada’s next big export.
Her first single “Love Me Like That” has already found airplay on Canadian country radio stations across the country. She’s in love with country music for the story telling and for the true-to-life stories. She’s a bright young girl with an even brighter future.
Read our exclusive interview with my fellow Ottawa native Kira Isabella below:
You’re part of CMT’s “Gift Of Giving.” How important was it to you to be a part of it?
It was a pretty amazing experience. First of all, because of the contribution that Gift of Giving is giving to the food banks of Canada – actually, all the proceeds from the Gift Of Giving compilations CD are going towards the Food Bank. Knowing that I was a part of that, especially during this time of the year, was a really, really good feeling. I’m pretty grateful to be a part of that. Also, the company that I’m in on that CD is amazing. I grew up with all those people I think. It’s a pretty big dream come true to stand up there with all of them.
Talking about the other artists on the CD with you, who would you consider to be your inspiration?
They’re all pretty inspirational. I have to say I really, really love Carolyn Dawn Johnson. I look up to a lot as a person and as a songwriter. She’s a young artist just like me and she’s pretty much been in my shoes. I just look up to her a lot. She’s a pretty amazing woman, she was very, very kind and she was willing to give me advice and she was very comforting. It was great.
I know you’re a big Britney fan. If you could work with any artist who isn’t country, who would it be?
Oh my goodness, I’m totally going to be a 13 year-old girl right now and say Justin Bieber, for sure. He’s young like me and that would be pretty cool (laughs).
You just put out your new music video for “Real Good Radio.” Who came up with the idea for the video?
That was actually the Eady Brothers who directed it. They came up for the whole concept for the video. I loved it, I thought they did a great job, and I loved the way it turned out.
What would you consider to be your favorite moment of 2011 so far, and what’s one thing you’re hoping for in 2012?
I’ve kind of had a little moment, actually, when I was at the taping of the Gift Of Giving special. They had this nice little balcony area, and they had us all sitting up there. I kind of just sat on the balcony for a minute and looked out at everyone setting up the stage that I was going to perform on and they started playing my song. The band started playing my song really quietly, and obviously I recognized it. It kind of just hit me in that moment, that I was getting to be a part of this, that they were playing a song that I wrote in my living room last year. That was a pretty special moment for me.
The only thing I can hope for in the New Year is to perform as much as I possibly can because that’s what I love doing. Possibly meeting people, that’s what I’m most excited about.
Do you have plans for the holidays? I know you’re still here in Ottawa.
I’m here until the 26th, I’m leaving the day before my Mom’s birthday which kind of makes me sad. I’m going to Nashville! I’m pretty excited about that.
Right on! Have you been to Nashville before?
Yeah! I got to go once before but I was really, really sick. I’m hoping I can see more and maybe do some shopping this time.
Are you going to be working on your album while there? How is it going so far?
Yeah, I’m going on a little writing trip. It’s going really, really, really well. I’m learning a lot about the radio pretty much everyday. It’s a pretty new thing to me and I’m pretty excited to be going to Nashville and writing with people. I’m just working on the album right now, and hopefully we’ll get it out for the Spring – that’s what I’m aiming for.
What can fans expect from the album? Any idea yet?
When I know I’ll let everybody know (laughs). I just want it to be relateable – I want young girls my age to relate to it. I want to be able to get all the sides of me down – a little slower one like “Love Me Like That,” or a faster one like “A Real Good Radio.” Maybe we’ll get a little bit rocky with it. We’ll see. Hopefully it turns out!
You have a Christmas single out right now which is pretty cute, “A Country Boy For Christmas.”
Now how many of those things would you actually want in a boy?
Oh, all of them! (laughs). One of them on a guy is great, but if I could get one with all of them that would be amazing.
I read somewhere that you play guitar. When did you start playing guitar?
Well, my Mom’s side is pretty much all singers. My Dad’s is all musicians, so. I think I first started playing guitar when I was about seven. I think I was ten when my parents bought me my first electric guitar and I really started to show an interest in music. My Dad actually taught me!
Can you play any other instruments?
Just guitar. I’ve always wanted to learn to play piano. I have really tiny hands though.
What is it about country music that you love so much?
I get asked this one all the time. What don’t I love about it? You know, it’s always been my favourite genre of music. How it tells the story, I love how a country song can tell a story better than anyone else. A lot of the best singers are in country music. Ever since I was young, every time I tried to write a song it always came out country. I’ve always had a deep love for it.
You’re so young but you’ve already achieved so much. Do you feel like your age makes it hard to compete in the industry?
I think that people definitely underestimate me until I show them what I can do. I think that makes it a little bit more fun, do you know what I mean? I think that once they realize what I have to offer, that normally goes out the door. I definitely think that people underestimated me a lot in the past. That’s the only thing that I think hinders me because of my age.
When did you first figure out that music is what you wanted to do?
I think I’ve always known that music is what I wanted to do. It’s always been something that’s not only been a huge part of my life – it is my life! I can’t see me doing anything else. I’ve always loved performing and writing.
If you could put together your dream tour, who would you have?
Oh my goodness, okay, where do I begin? Jason Aldean, Carrie Underwood, Taylor Swift, Miranda Lambert.. I think it would be pretty incredible to have Willie Nelson. Yeah, that’d be pretty great! Maybe… everybody! Scotty McCreery. I really, really love him. I want to do a duet with him. I think he’s really cute.
Do you have a Christmas wish this year? Is there one thing you really want?
Honestly, I was thinking about and talking about this with my friends the other day. I can’t think of what I want for Christmas. I really can’t. I mean, I’ve had the most incredible year this year and I feel like asking for more would be bad for me. I don’t know, I just love my family and really wish I could see my brother. That would probably be my biggest Christmas wish this year. He’s out in Whistler and won’t make it home this year.
Is he your only brother?
Yeah. He’s 31, thirteen years older than me. I miss him a lot.
What would your family consider to be the best and worst part of your career?
My parents probably would say that I forced them to drive me everywhere in Ontario for singing competitions growing up. Gas, and my Dad threw out his back moving all my gear from show to show (laughs). Yeah, and I think the best part is that they’re always really proud of me and they love to watch me sing, hear me sing. They know that I’m happy up there, so them seeing that I’m happy doing what I love.
Is there a charity that you really want your fans to support this holiday season?
The Food Bank. The Toy Drive – I know we have Toy Mountain here in Ottawa. I got the chance to be part of Santas Anonymous when I was in Edmonton. They get about 25,000 toys to give for children in the Edmonton area. Just to think that that many children will have a Christmas is amazing. I think people should really, really think about that especially at this time of year.
Check out Kira’s music video for “A Real Good Radio” below:
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