You are here: Home Music Beat Alyssa McQuaid connects with South Carolina audience in Nashville Connection contest
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

L.A. Beat

Alyssa McQuaid connects with South Carolina audience in Nashville Connection contest

E-mail Print PDF

 Local singer -songwriter Alyssa McQuaid has had a lot happen in her music career in a very short period of time.Alyssa McQuaid. Photo by Richard Amery
“When it rains, it pours,”  said McQuaid, who not only  opens for Canadian country hit-makers Hey Romeo at Average Joes, April 9, made it into the finals of the Canadian Country Music Lethbridge auditions (April 16), released her second CD “Who Am I” a month ago and, oh, yes, placed fourth in the Nashville Connection Songwriting Competition in Greenville, South Carolina March 15-18 — the only Canadian to make it to this songwriting competition which featured some of the best songwriters from all over the world, though mostly from the United States.

“My vocal coach, David Brooks, who I work with over Skype, posted it on his Facebook page, so I just sent ‘Who I Am’ on a whim. I hadn’t planned on going to South Carolina, so I didn’t sign up for any of the workshops,” she said, adding the next thing she knew, she received an e-mail saying she was in the finals so she and her mom Valerie booked their plane tickets to spend  five days in sunny South Carolina.

“It was amazing. It was +30 over there and everybody was in t-shirts and shorts,” she said adding she got to take part in  a variety of music industry related workshops  on topics including  vocals, image, songwriting, performance, entertainment law and a lot more hosted by Nashville pros.

“ When I got there, we had to perform, so I performed ‘Getting By,’ she said adding the 20 finalists were judged in two categories — songwriting and performance. She placed fourth in the songwriting category.

“The top three got to record in Greenville, but it was just very cool to be there,” she added noting one of many highlights was meeting country star Craig Morgan.

“I only got to say hello to him and get my picture taken with him,” she said adding she mostly enjoyed hanging out with the rest of the competitors after the competition and workshops.

“ Noel Gordon was there and he has worked with people like Matchbox 20, Willie Nelson and  Guns N’ Roses,” enthused McQuaid , who has a version of ‘Sweet Child O Mine,’ on her new CD.
“We all went to a club where people were performing. I wasn’t intending to play, so I’d had a couple drinks and I don’t usually drink when I play, but they convinced me to get on stage,” she recalled.

“There was a guy there who  made a set of drums out of buckets. It was the most amazing thing I’d ever seen. All of them called me ‘Canada,’ ” she laughed adding she struck up a friendship with second place winner Kristine Mitchum.
“We just connected. We want to co-write together, so we’re going to do that over Skype,” she said adding meeting the people was the highlight of her trip to South Carolina.
McQuaid’s next big show is an opening sot for Hey Romeo, who have numerous hits on the radio including  ‘Snap My Fingers, ‘ He Still Calls Me Baby,’ ‘Searchin’ For You’ and ‘That’s What I Am’.

“I’m pretty excited about that. A girl I know in Calgary gave them one of my CDs,” she continued adding another unusual gig coming up is at local dance club Pulse on April 21 where  she will be playing  a set for Red and Green  night  which will  include a couple of the members of the Saskatchewan Rough Riders football team in the audience.

“It‘s a dance club, but because it  involves the Saskatchewan Roughriders, they thought they should have some country music. And I have enough music to do an hour set for them,” she said adding the other big thing is making the finals  for the Canadian Country Music Weekend, April 14.

If she wins that, she will  vie for a position on stage opening for the likes of Ian Tyson, Gord Bamford and Terri Clark against a solid field of local finalists including The Smokin Pistols, Jessica Halvorsen, Breanne Urban & Southern Flyer and Charles Shade, Karen Romanchuk and Shalisa Leisch.

“Right now I’m working with a guitar player so I have someone to back me up, like Karen Romanchuk does,” she continued  adding  she is glad to be chosen among the other finalists including Romanchuk and Breanne Urban.

“I even served Breanne today ( at Moxies). I’d never met her before, but she gave me a big hug. But she played at the YWCA when I was in Grade 10 , so to be considered  on the same level as her is  very cool,” she continued adding a a lot of McQuaid’s friends came out to support her at the auditions.

“I get pretty nervous in a competition, but when people who I care about are in the audience, the nervousness goes away  because I know they’ll be there whether I win or not,” she continued adding she is also very pleased with her new CD, produced by  Dave Hamilton in Calgary, a lot of it online,  which includes covers of ‘Sweet Child O Mine’ and ‘Hallelujah.’
“Sweet Child O Mine” was the first song I ever performed. I played it for my drama class,” she said.
“We were supposed to be performing a ‘radio show’ and I was behind a white curtain. And my teacher was so impressed that she encouraged me to play more. She was one of my biggest influences,” she said adding another teacher encouraged her to perform ‘Hallelujah.”

“I couldn't emotionally connect with the lyrics, I couldn't get it across at first then she sat me down and told me to find it. And once I did, it made me cry, now I make other people cry when I play it,” she chuckled adding the rest are originals including the first song she ever wrote — “Perfect.”

“I’m bad for finishing the middle of sings. I’ll come up with a chorus and a verse, but not the middle. These are the songs I finished and the ones that I had the most emotional connection with,” she said adding her mom is  a huge inspiration.
“She is so great on the Internet and I’m not. She finds out about all of these contests and things,” she said adding she will be having a CD release party in the next month after she has completed her first semester of university, hopefully at the YWCA so her under-age fans can attend.

“I have a lot of younger fans. And that’s important  to me — to be a good role model for them,” she said.

A version of this story appears in the April 6 edition of the Lethbridge Sun Times
— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
{jcomments on} 
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 05 April 2011 16:43 )  
The ONLY Gig Guide that matters


Music Beat

Lights. Camera. Action.
Inside L.A. Inside

CD Reviews


Music Beat News

Art Beat News

Drama Beat News

Museum Beat News