Country artist and Elgin Park graduate Melissa Rae Barrie.

Country artist and Elgin Park graduate Melissa Rae Barrie.

Local country singer enjoying breakaway year

Elgin Park grad’s debut album nominated for provincial award

An Elgin Park Secondary grad is among nominees for the 2011 B.C. Country Music Association awards.

Melissa Rae Barrie’s debut album, Breakaway, has been nominated for album of the year at the awards, scheduled for Nov. 20 at the Red Robinson Show Theatre in Coquitlam.

It’s been a signal year for Barrie – particularly the summer, when in addition to releasing Breakaway, she also wed her fiancé, captain of Chicago Blackhawks’ farm team, the Rockford Ice Hogs, Brandon Segal.

Barrie is no stranger to the world of hockey – had it not been for a string of injuries when she was in her teens, she might have been pursuing a career as a professional hockey player today.

But after four major concussions, a broken leg and a slipped hip disc by the time she reached first year college hockey, it was clear her future lay elsewhere.

Fortunately, she had started writing poetry and songs as an outlet of expression when she was in her early teens, honing skills that show up on nine of the 11 songs on Breakaway.

Serendipity has also played a part in her new-found, but blossoming, role as recording and touring artist.

She was signed to 604 Records – the label founded by Nickleback’s Chad Kroeger and CEO Jonathan Simkin – after contacting them by email, submitting several demos and auditioning a capella for Simkin, who offered her a contract on the spot.

Barrie is not one to shy away from using personal experiences to inspire her lyrics for songs like Unforgivable and Room To Breathe – or let empathy for human frailties inspire songs like Let You Down.

But she’s also ready to write escapist pieces to counterbalance the darker side of realism.

One such is the upbeat road song Passenger Window, which she penned with co-producer Josh Ramsey of Marianas Trench.

She’s also not afraid to cover others’ material when they suit her approach: Lori McKenna’s Adore Her, for example, and Gordie Sampson’s Miss Me For A Minute are both included in Breakaway.