Besides releasing her self-titled debut album last week, the down-to-earth Stacey McKitrick with the inspiring voice and dazzling personality enchanted us with anecdotes of how Chad Kroeger of Nickelback broke her cheekbone and how she idolizes Reba (don’t we all).

She has left us smitten because if Taylor Swift is the sweetest country starlet to come out of the States, then meet Stacey McKitrick, the sweetheart of Canadian country music – set to take over a radio station near you.

What was the journey in developing this album and fine-tuning your sound?

We have been working on this album for actually the last three years, which is quite a long time to be working on one record. The journey has been a long one, but a fantastic one in the sense of being able to discover exactly what we wanted for the record and being able to have the opportunity to work with such amazing writers. It’s been really exciting with lots of up moments and nothing that I would take back at all.

The album itself has a very good mix of upbeat tracks and slow ballads. How did you settle on which ten tracks would make the final cut?

We really wanted to make sure that we felt very, very strongly about the ten that we did decide to put onto the record, and that they were cohesive and we felt that they were strong songs. We didn’t really want to have any songs that could be fillers.

Was it intimidating working on the single “Friends for Life” with Chad Kroeger – someone who has had his fair share of successful singles?

Absolutely. I always get nervous getting to work with people who I look up to so much…I was very nervous just to give his song the justice I felt that he would obviously want to have out of it.

Any funny moments that came out of your sessions with him?

He had a baseball game last year. It’s a slow pitch and he had me out to play with him and his buddies last year. Both him and I were playing in the outfield and we were running for a pop fly. Neither one of us had called the ball and we actually collided into each other. I knocked myself out on his chin and I broke my cheekbone. He felt really bad even though it totally wasn’t his fault. Now with everything that’s happened since then, people are like, “Oh are you sure he didn’t let you have the song because he felt kind of bad about your cheek?” I’m like, I don’t know, but I’ll happily break it again if I get to have another one of his amazing songs.

Country music has a real unique way of storytelling, which pulls on the heartstrings. What first caught your attention or attracted you to this genre?

I fell in love with it when I was little. My mom was always playing Reba McEntire when I was growing up around the house. I just fell in love with her and her music and the stories. I’m quite a sentimental person, so I always found myself listening to the stories in the songs.

Country music has continued to gain more and more mainstream attention with artists like Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert and Lady Antebellum. Do you think there will be more country-pop crossovers in the years to come?

Absolutely. Just the artists you were saying opened up a lot of doors. It was opened up a long time ago with Shania Twain. I really feel like she was the one that kind of pushed that door open a couple years back…people that weren’t interested in country before are becoming fans because the music is changing so much. There’s still that twangy, fun, real hardy country, but there’s also that rock pop influence where if people aren’t necessarily into that twangy country first, they get pulled in by that new country sound. And because they fall in love with the artist, they fall in love with everything that they have to sing and it makes them more of a country fan in the end.

What was your experience contributing to “Standing Strong and True” and “Wavin’ Flag” – two songs that benefited amazing causes?

The most gratifying part was being able to give back, but being able to also be by people who I am a huge fan of and being able to be tied in doing something together. It’s just amazing. I didn’t have a leading role in either one of those songs. I was just in the background doing the chorus with everyone, but it was really, really inspiring. I felt really honoured getting that opportunity to be there.

Did you have any star-struck moments?

Yes. I was pretty star-struck by a lot of the artists that were at the “Wavin’ Flag” video, but I think Tom Cochrane was at the top. I was a huge fan of “Life is a Highway”, the original one and the Rascal Flatts version also. After I shook his hand I was like, “ooh I don’t even want to wash this.”

What’s the best advice you’ve received so far on the music industry?

I think the best advice I’ve received is stay true to who you are and make sure to treat people with the utmost respect and kindness. That’s kind of a general rule that you should use in life.

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