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Kissel wins Breakthrough Artist of the Year

Apr 01, 2014 11:45 am | By Ryan McCracken | St. Paul Journal

Flat Lake's Brett Kissel picked up a Juno Award for Breakthrough Artist of the Year on Saturday evening at the Juno Awards Gala in Winnipeg, and following it up with a pyrotechnic-fueled performance of his standout single “Started with a Song,” at the Juno Awards broadcast on Sunday.

“Everything looks better with fire, I'll tell you that,” Kissel told the Journal immediately following his onstage performance, which was broadcast across the nation on Sunday evening.

While it's certainly the largest achievement in Kissel's life and career, a surprising victory ranked second in his personal record books.

“Winning the floor hockey championship at St. Paul Regional High School meant the world to me, but now winning at the Junos, that's the most important,” he said with a laugh, adding he is truly thankful to have come out of St. Paul. “I'm just thrilled with all the great encouragement and guidance I've seen from my teachers and everybody in the community. It felt really good in high school when I was in Grade 11 and I won the floor hockey championship, but it feels better to win a Juno.”

Kissel, who was also nominated for Country Album of the Year with “Started with a Song,” said it was truly a thrill to lift his Breakthrough Artist of the Year award on Saturday evening in front of his country, and more importantly, his family.

“I'd never won an award in my life, I've never been at the Junos, I've never performed, and now here I am getting the opportunity to raise my hand, and raise this big beautiful trophy in front of Canada,” said Kissel, who accepted the award in front of his parents. “It was very special because I've been a fan of Jian Ghomeshi, who was our host of the night at the gala dinner. He looked down at ballot in the envelope and he had a little smirk. He chuckled just to add a little extra suspense and he said my name with this great big smile, and the entire gala just stood up and cheered. It was incredible.”

Kissel said it was especially memorable rubbing shoulders with so many talented Canadian musicians at the Juno awards, and added it felt both odd and exciting to be held in the same esteem as acts like One Republic and Bachman-Turner Overdrive.

“Hanging with everybody was incredible. I had to chance to meet BTO and hang out with One Republic, and all these incredible acts that I've looked up to all my career, and I still look up to. It's one of those things that really felt interesting, it felt odd, but it felt very exciting to maybe be treated as an equal, to just be having a drink backstage with these guys. It was unbelievable.”

Kissel added he hopes to keep building upon the momentum gained by “Started with a Song,” and carry it on into his next album, but first he hopes to make a stop in St. Paul to celebrate his recent achievement with friends and family.

“I think it's important for us to keep with this incredible momentum. For us, I think what's next is maybe seeing if we can plan a trip home where I can celebrate with my friends and family. That's what I said in my acceptance speech, was just how privileged I feel to have had such great support,” he said. “The support that I received in the early days is something that I have never forgotten, and I don't take for granted.”

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