Michelle Wright Interview
Michelle Wright can do no wrong!!
She is one of the most awarded artists in Canadian Country Music history.
She has over 30 major music industry awards to her credit and a string of
23 Top Ten hits on Canadian Country radio, including 7 Number One Singles!!
Michelle Wright is the first Canadian born artist in the modern era of
country music to have a Top Ten hit in America (“Take It Like A Man” – 1992);
a Number One video on CMT (“Take It Like A Man” – 1992);
and to win a major U.S. music industry award (Academy Of Country Music Top
New Female Artist – 1993.)
Q – I’d like to know about the town you
grew up in, Merlin, Ontario ( Canada). Was it a Country Music town?
A – Well, I don’t know that I can say what other people listened
to. I don’t really know. I know it’s a farm town. It’s
a small town of 600 people; because of the proximity of being just across
the border from Detroit. Most of us grew up listening to CKLW which is a
pretty heavily laden Motown Station, Motown, Pop, and Rock. I’ve kind
of always been a crossover act before crossover was cool. It’s unfortunate
that my record label didn’t have a crystal ball to recognize how relevant
the music I was bringing to them was going to be. I can tell you my parents
were country music singers and performers therefore I was exposed to a great
deal of country music growing up and also my stepbrother played The Beatles
records. So, I listened to a lot of Beatles and rock ‘n’ roll,
R and B, Motown and so on.
Q – So having parents in the business, it was
only natural that you would pursue a show business career?
A – I don’t necessarily know that it’s a natural thing.
Some people do and some people don’t. I think there’s no doubt
that the influence of my parents’ music and the fact that we had a
garage full of musical instruments. I’m the only one in the family
that went that way. I think their influence can’t be denied, that’s
Q – You started out playing drums.
A – Yes.
Q – How big of an influence was Karen Carpenter
A – You know, Karen was definitely an influence and actually it’s
a little freaky sometimes if you listen to a Karen Carpenter record and
you listen to my voice. There’s a lot of similarity. We’re both
altos for one thing. I definitely was influenced by Karen Carpenter. I ended
up being a drummer basically by process of elimination.
I also liked to dance and had a very strong sense of groove and rhythm.
And, it just came very naturally to me. Again, I think that had to do with
listening to a lot of that Motown music and dancing to ‘Soul Train’ every
Saturday afternoon. Karen Carpenter was an influence in many ways on me.
As a matter of fact, I remember the day she died. I was in Indiana.
Q – I’ve heard there are rock groups in Canada that are doing
so well, they sell their tapes at the bars they’re performing in,
by passing major label deals because they can make more money on their own.
Have you heard about that situation and why couldn’t you have done
the same thing?
A – Well, I did do the same thing. For 10 years I played the clubs,
6 nights a week in Canada, a few years in America, just crossing the border
a little bit. I did sell my CD’s independently. So, I did all that
and couldn’t seem to get a record deal either. There’s only
a population of 33 million in our entire country. I think California has
a population of 27 million or something and the only country artist they
had signed to a record deal at the time (the early 90’s) was Dwight
Yokam. So, Canada is actually starting to do pretty good statistically speaking.
Not a lot of signings went on for country artists at one point.
Q – Weren’t you on another label before
A – My manager had an independent label called Savannah Records and
we were distributed by Warner Bros. I believe at the time. My manager’s
label was the label I made my first independent record on, which got me
my record deal. My manager-----we’re together to this day. He’s
a real hard-working, brilliant guy. He had this record label and it helped
my career a lot.
Q – What did you think of Nashville the first
time you set foot in that city?
A – Well, I love Nashville. I’ve done the Hall of Fame a few
times. I just love it. I thought it was awesome. I remember when I moved
here, for the first few years I kind of drove around in just disbelief that
I was really living here and a part of this community.
Q – You’ve won a lot of awards. What
does that mean to you personally and professionally?
A – Well, of course it’s great. Personally it just feels great
to know that your peers are rewarding you. I think the respect of the industry
has been something that’s been important to me. I knew that longevity
is a key thing here. I wanted to be able to do this for awhile and therefore
I think you have to be very careful about the music you make and the decisions
you make and how you represent yourself. At least I think you do. (Laughs).
And so, when the industry gives you the nod, it’s awesome. Professionally,
we need to sell records in order to survive in this business. So, anytime
you win an award, the focus changes a lot and the focus is on you. So, I
think it’s a great help. Not a necessity always. Obviously there are
people having great careers without having won many awards, so there’s
Q – Was it tough being an opening act for Randy
Travis and Kenny Rogers? How were you treated?
A – Just fabulously! They really set the standard for me. It wasn’t
difficult at all. It’s funny, I’ve toured with some of the Top
acts----- Alabama, Randy Travis, Kenny Rogers and I was always amazed at
how they treated their opening act. We were never treated as if we were
an irrelevant part of things. We were always treated by these class acts
as people who mattered. It’s like when I met Tammy Wynette; she was
such a beautiful, lovely, loving woman that I now realize these are the
standards of the legends.
Q – Your bio describes you as “A woman who’s lived, loved,
lost and survived to love again”.
A – (Laughs). I love those bios.
Q – What did you love?
A – Oh, c’mon! We’re all out here dealing with life,
you know? There’s great joys and there’s great disappointments.
I’ve lost loves in my life. I’ve lost records that I thought
were headed up the charts and just didn’t. The loves that I’ve
lost. It’s amazing how God works in his most amazing ways. He was
preparing me for the right one and I mean that without being cliché.
It’s very true for me. I never have felt what I feel right now for
my finance Marko. When I met him I knew he was the one. The loss I think
would be loves, but, that’s o.k. And a few records that I’d
hoped would have headed up the charts. What else would you lose at really?
Q – Again, quoting from you bio. your described as, “A woman
who knows what life is all about”. As you see it, what is life all
A – Well, I think it sure is about a lot of ups and downs. Without
fail, a challenging time has always led me to a better place and I just
love that. I’ve learned that while I’m being challenged to try
and just sit quietly and recognize that if I don’t let this get the
best of me, than on the other end of this is something really good for me.
So, the thing I think that life is most about is certainly to come from
a place of love if you can; be kind to people, and to be loving to them
and not be judgmental and also at the end of challenges are good things.
Q – As you see it, what does the future hold
for Michelle Wright?
A – I will tell you the business has been very good to me. If it all
ends today, that’s o.k.
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