It has been an amazing and humbling couple of years for Métis singer-songwriter Brandi Vezina.
While music is something she grew up with, the singer from Winnipeg says she only started taking a career in the music business seriously starting in 2019.
Her hard work seems to be paying off, culminating in five nominations at the 2022 Manitoba Country Music Awards, including Album of the Year and Female Artist of the Year. The awards will be handed out on Nov. 5 in Winnipeg.
In recent years, country music has incorporated more pop and hip hop but Vezina says she’s sticking to her roots.
“I don’t fit into a little package of being a country pop artist,” says Vezina on the latest episode of Face to Face with host Dennis Ward. “It’s just not where I want to go and not the lane I want to go in.
“I’m going more outlaw because my roots are more classic country and rock. I grew up on Loretta Lynn, I grew up on Patsy Cline. I can sing you lots of Hank Williams, that’s in my blood. You hear it in my voice; you hear it in my twang.”
Vezina grew up in the country with a musical family. There were a lot of late-night parties with everyone sitting around, drinking and playing music. Her grandparents had a band, her mother and stepfather were performers, and her uncle Tommy Knott was a well-known award-winning fiddler.
Some might associate ‘outlaw’ country with drinking and partying, but Vezina says she has been sober for a decade and music has been her “saving grace.”
“My granny always says that music will carry you through and I can say right now without my sobriety, there’s no way I’d be sitting here, I really don’t think I’d be alive at this point and time.
“I think because I pray, and my message is from my heart and my spirit, I think that my guides, my helpers, the ones in the spirit world, are guiding me and leading me where I need to go,” says Vezina, who feels if she was still a drinker she’d “be sitting on a bar stool talking about what she was going to do” instead of out doing it.
“I could sing songs that glorify drinking and whatnot, but that’s not where I am as a person and that’s not the message I want to share.”
Vezina released her first album #Dontsettle in September 2021.
One of her most streamed songs, Danger, was the first song she ever wrote. She was coming out of an unhealthy relationship and the song came to her in a dream.
“I wanted to make sure and honour the missing and murdered Indigenous [women and girls] here in Winnipeg,” says Vezina.
“On the wall, when you’re going toward Polo Park [shopping centre in Winnipeg], [there’s a painting of] those young girls [who disappeared or died and] were between the ages of 16 and 19 years old. They were just children. And actually one of the sons of those young women who were murdered reached out to me and said thank you for not forgetting my mom.”
Vezina’s latest single, Gasoline, was released in September. She says the song is “part of her evolution out of dysfunction.”
“I’ve been re-creating my childhood patterns – we’ll say trauma – in the relationships that I have kept and I’m done. I don’t need to be picking partners who are still drinking and in the problem and doing things that I no longer do,” she says.
“I don’t want that kind of lifestyle for myself anymore – I’ve lived it. Listen to my music. I’ve lived it and it’s not fun anymore. It’s time to evolve and move on.”
Vezina, who is also a teacher and a motivational speaker with a podcast, says she has three new singles coming in 2023.
“They’re sassy. [I] went through a little breakup recently. It’s kind of like a little Taylor Swift. I should give a disclaimer ‘date me and I’ll write’ about you,” she jokes, while noting her granny is going to be featured on her next single.