Many times the road to success as a country musician leads to Nashville. It can be a long and winding road, a journey full of challenges, hard work and detours, sometimes fraught with danger and disappointments. It seems Dean Brody knows all that first hand, and he has taken a few grand leaps of faith to get to where he finds himself now, as one of the brightest stars in the Canadian country music firmament.
“Without risk there's no reward," says Brody to CBC Music. "It's important to be fearless. You need to be persistent. You can't give up."
Read on for a Q&A with the singer.
Brody’s own trail in life started in Smithers, B.C. He grew up in rural Jaffray, B.C., where, as a young man, Brody worked at the sawmill, played guitar and wrote songs when he could.
Over the years, Brody went and came from Nashville a couple of times, first under contract to write songs, and later releasing a self-titled debut album. He also had a serious water-skiing accident on the Potomac River that took him away for a while. But he kept going with music, eventually coming home to Canada, settling in Chester, Nova Scotia.
Brody seems to know that what happens along the way is life: in all the places we’ve been, the friends we have, what we’ve learned and the memories we’ve made and keep with us.
Like many country entertainers and singer-songwriters, Brody lets his music do the talking. He has a talent for crafting stories in song, telling them plainly, with a clarity and character that rings true and feels personal to us all.
His sophomore album, Trail in Life (2010), is about just that, the journey. And it clearly spoke to us.
Trail in Life had four top 10 singles, and earned a 2011 Juno nomination for country album of the year. Brody was a huge winner at the Canadian Country Music Awards in September 2011. He got the nod for album of the year, single and songwriter of the year for Trail In Life.
Brody was also the most played Canadian artist on country radio for 2011.
The 36-year-old Brody continues to figure big for 2012.
His latest album, Dirt, was released in late April, but the first single, “Canadian Girls,” smashed out earlier, debuting at #1 on the iTunes Canadian Country Chart, as well as #1 on the Digital Country Single and the Nielsen BDS Country Charts. And “Canadian Girls” is Brody's first song to reach the top 40 on the Billboard Canadian Hot 100.
I asked Brody how he wrote such a country-rockin’ homage to Canadian women from coast to coast to coast. Did it start with one in particular?
A: I wrote it in Nova Scotia, solo, although I did ask a lot of questions! I tried to use the women closest to me as a sounding board, to gauge whether it would resonate with women as a whole. But because our ladies are so diverse, I really didn't know if I could capture it in a song.
Q: What’s it like to see your song hit #1 on so many charts?
A: As a songwriter you dream of it, but to actually see it there is something else. It's a very cool feeling.
Q: How do you come up with a new tune?
A: Sometimes I'll noodle around on the guitar and come up with something, but usually it starts with an idea or a picture. Pictures tell stories, so if I can see the song visually in my mind, it's easier to put to music and words. Then I go get the guitar.
Q: What was the very first song you wrote called, and what was it all about?
A: It was called "Sometimes You Step In It, Sometimes You Don't." It was a metaphor for life. And the metaphor was manure. I lived in the country, what can I say? And yes, it kind of sucked!
Q: In your heart, are you a singer or songwriter first?
A: Some folks don't know this but I moved to Nashville to be a songwriter. I've always loved to sing but it took a while to develop my confidence as a performer. But yeah, this all started because of songwriting.
Brody says his song “Bob Marley” will be the next single, but he thinks his favourite tune from Dirt is “It’s Friday.” If you think it sounds decidedly Canadian Celtic, you would be right. The song features favourite East Coast musical sons Great Big Sea.
The summer will find Brody on the festival circuit across Canada, and in September he will play the 2012 CCMA Awards airing live from Saskatoon on Sunday, Sept. 9 at 8 p.m. on CBC Television.
Playlist: Dean Brody
Dean Brody, Deric Ruttan, and Aaron Lines live in Vancouver
'Canadian Girls' tongue in cheek trailer
'Bob Marley' trailer for new single
on May 22, 2012