Melissa Rae Barrie
Label: 604 Records
from Vancouver BC
If fate hadn’t cast her a cruel blow, Melissa Rae Barrie would not be country music’s newest discovery. Instead, some sports rag would probably be chronicling the career heights to which the Coquitlam, B.C. native would be accomplishing in the world of professional hockey.
“I wouldn’t have pursued music at all if it wasn’t for me not being able to play hockey anymore,” confesses Barrie on the eve of her brand new 604 Records album Breakaway. “Then when I was 18, I broke my leg. In my first year of college hockey, in pre-season, I slipped a disc in my hip. That pretty much put me out for a couple of months, and then that was it – I couldn’t play anymore. They wouldn’t take me back and they said I was kind of a liability because I was injured all the time.”
Not surprisingly, Barrie felt a lot of anger and angst, and luckily found an outlet to channel it all: country music. The 11 songs on Breakaway -- recorded in Vancouver and Nashville, with the majority co-produced by Ryan Stewart (Carly Rae Jepsen) and Jesse Tucker (Jessie Farrell) and production contributions by Chad Carlson (Taylor Swift) and Mariana Trench’s Josh Ramsay -- don’t necessarily dwell on the hockey frustration, but Barrie has endured other tribulations that has given her perception a shade of darkness.
Mixing light and dark is preferred for Barrie, who says realistic takes in life are simply more honest to her listeners – especially those who know life isn’t always a bowl of cherries. “The kind of person I am is sweet and sour,” Barrie declares. “I think I’m a really nice, kind-hearted person, but I also have a huge temper. There are some amazing things that have happened in my life, and there have been some pretty horrible things that have happened in my life. I think that’s how most people are – everybody has a little sweet and sour in them. And I think it’s important to relate to as many people as you can.”
There’s one other aspect about Melissa Rae Barrie you should know: she’s a wild card. She didn’t gain her record contract based on an amazing performance, critical buzz or a high-placed recommendation: she contacted the record company via e-mail, sent them a song, recorded a few more, auditioned a cappella for 604 Records CEO Jonathan Simkin, and was offered a deal on the spot.
“I want to be taken seriously,” she declares. “I don’t want to be a little pop tart where other people write my songs and I’m just the face of the music. “I can do it all: I can write songs, perform them and sing them. This is my heart and soul that they’re hearing.”
And judging by the look and sound of things, they’ll be hearing Melissa Rae Barrie for some time to come.