Semiahmoo Peninsula-raised country singer Kristin Carter is back in a big way.
She’s a semifinalist in the national SiriusXM Top Of The Country contest for a second year, aiming at one of the three finalist spots – to be determined by online public voting up to May 17.
And she’s giving it her best shot, with an increasingly powerful vocal approach and a sizzling, new, upbeat pop-country single, Give Me Something I Can Dance To, produced by Scott Cooke.
“Although I didn’t make the finalists last year, the experience of the contest and making contact with so many people about my music was exciting,” she said.
“I feel really, really lucky to be part of it again, and very grateful to SiriusXM for believing in me twice – it’s really amazing.”
Carter is one of eight semi-finalists in the contest, which, in addition to Top Of The Country bragging rights, will also award the winner $25,000 and a guaranteed performance spot at the Canadian Country Music Association’s Country Music Week showcase in Calgary.
Music has become an increasing focus for her over the past year, Carter said, although the singer – who gained a degree in economics from Dalhousie University – still works full time for a mutual fund in Vancouver.
“They’re definitely two different worlds, but I enjoy them both,” she said. “And music requires a lot of work, too. The experience of hard work and application is very transferable from one to the other.”
Carter chuckles when it’s suggested that the seeds for that work ethic were planted by her first job – a paper route for Peace Arch News in Ocean Park when she was around 10 years old.
“Well, I always had that determination and application, although I think my goals back then were a little different – probably more about buying candy,” she laughed.
The singer, who sang in choirs all the way from kindergarten to Grade 12 (she attended Ocean Cliff Elementary before moving on to Langley Fine Arts School), still visits the Peninsula regularly to see her mom, who lives and works here, she said.
“It’s only a short distance down the 99,” she added, while acknowledging that a move from Vancouver to the U.S. is still a possibility in the future.
Her boyfriend, hockey player Andrew Gladiuk – a former Canucks prospect – still plays for a team based in Boston, she said.
“We go back and forth a lot – it’s unusual, but it seems to work for us. We’ll have been together for seven years this May 25, but it doesn’t feel like it.”
Given that she and Gladiuk seem to have worked out how to make a long-distance relationship viable, Carter said it’s more likely she’d choose Nashville, which she has frequently visited, rather than Boston, should a move to the U.S. be in the cards.
“Nashville is so central to the country-music scene,” she noted.
Being involved in last year’s Top Of The Country contest helped focus her musical ambitions, she acknowledged, adding that there are “exciting things brewing.”
“It’s been a year of growth,” she said. “I’m excited to bring some of this new music out, and really hope people like it.
“I spent quite a bit of time over the contest period writing and working out what I wanted to sound like,” she noted, adding that she has done extensive work with Nashville-based vocal coach Chanelle Guyton to improve the power of her sound.
“I’ve been studying vocal techniques to sustain and manage higher notes consistently, in ways that are not potentially damaging,” she said.
That approach – in which she has been inspired by such favourite non-country singers as Whitney Houston and Demi Lovato – lends itself to the high-energy, fun vibe of Give Me Something I Can Dance To – reminiscent of some of the great crossover hits of another of her idols, Shania Twain.
“Country is one of those amazing genres that bends a lot and can incorporate a lot of genres – it’s not super-limited, or super-stuck on one idea of what it has to be,” she said.
“At the same time, there’s still that storytelling aspect and that ability to embody emotion. The important thing I take away from music is, ‘did I feel something?’
“It doesn’t always have to be about something deep – it can be as simple as ‘it made me want to dance.’”
For more details on the competition and how to vote for Carter online, visit topcountry.siriusxm.ca