Brett Kissel performs Wednesday

Kissel enjoying breakthrough success

Brett Kissel reveals he wrote his searing love song 3-2-1 for his wife of three years, Cecilia.

Brett Kissel reveals he wrote his searing love song 3-2-1 for his wife of three years, Cecilia.

But for the record: no thugs tried to thwart their real-life romance, as depicted in the song’s intense music video.

“I wasn’t tied to the (car’s) steering wheel. That was pure fiction,” said Kissel.

The country singer, who performs with Tim Hicks on Wednesday, July 16, at Westerner Days in Red Deer, was thrilled to watch his 3-2-1 single and its video rocket up the country charts.

While reaction to the song has been wholly positive (Kissel was amazed to hear some non-country stations playing it too), opinion on the 3-2-1 video has been more divided.

“There’s a 70-30 split,” he said, about its unexpectedly gritty story line about a love-struck guy getting dragged into a car that’s later doused with gasoline and ignited.

The performer from Flat Lake in northeastern Alberta maintains most fans really liked the memorable music video because it’s so different, but a minority felt “it’s too intense and violent and crazy.”

He can appreciate both views. Of course, in the end, the song got a lot of attention — which was kind of the point.

“People are talking about it,” said the 24-year-old, who also relished the chance to experience during filming the fantasy life of an action star.

“There was fire and an explosion and it was right up my alley. I was in my element!”

Kissel’s real life experiences of late haven’t been too shabby, either.

Besides his success with 3-2-1 and the popular title-track of his latest album Started With a Song, the singer who’s contracted to Warner Music, was chosen to open for Brad Paisley when the U.S. country star tours Canada (including Red Deer) this fall.

“I’m really excited to be coming out . . . We’re really going to whoop it up!” said Kissel, who is still riding a high from winning a Juno Award earlier this year.

His Break-Through Artist nod was notable because only two country artists had ever topped that category before — Shania Twain and Terri Clark, and Kissel was the first country singer to nab the award in 17 years.

“Winning a Juno does change your life,” he concluded: “You have instant credibility.”

Kissel has arguably been working towards that moment on the podium for years.

He released his first album, Keepin’ It Country when he was just 12 years old. He was still in his teens when he put out his next three independent releases, including Tried and True — A Canadian Tribute (2006), which featured duets with Corb Lund, Gary Fjellgaard, Steve Fox (who also produced the album) and Larry Mercey of the Mercey Brothers.

That year, the 16-year-old Kissel became the youngest Canadian Country Music Association nominee in the history of the awards show.

After writing and recording a song about the 2012 NHL lockout, Hockey Please Come Back, Kissel was signed to Warner Music.

His debut single from his current record, Started With A Song, became the most added song to Canadian country radio in its first week and rose to No. 1 on CMT.

Despite his many accolades, Kissel comes across as a sincere and grateful guy, perhaps because of the grounding influence of his family.

He likes to recount an exchange he had with his grandfather, who banged on his bedroom door at 6:45 a.m. one morning last summer.

“I said, ‘Grandpa, I’d really like to sleep in. I just played the Big Valley Jamboree last night and I’ve only had two hours of sleep.’ And he said, ‘Wake up, because you’re no country star on the farm!’

Doors to the Centrium open at 7:30, concert is at 8:30 p.m.

The show is free with Westerner Days gate admission.

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