Music student charts own success

Genevieve Fisher’s bio reads like someone well beyond her 19 years.

Entering second year at The University of Western Ontario’s Don Wright Faculty of Music, she released her first recording, made last fall at OmniSound Studios in Nashville, to great success. Keep On, a ballad Fisher co-wrote, was released in January and hit No. 60 on the national country charts. It also made Fisher the No. 13 most-played female country artist on national radio.

She also was named Most Popular Country Artist for the third year at the London Music Awards, placing her in the Hall of Fame.

Not bad for someone juggling first-year studies with her career.

“It was hard to concentrate on both,” she says, “but important for my education. I dealt with it last year so I’ll have a better sense of it. Going to Nashville was almost spur of the moment. We decided in September and left on the Thanksgiving weekend. I learned the songs in two weeks.

“It was the best experience in my career so far.”

Not only was she recording in Nashville, performing to promote the CD and going to school, she was doing a double major in popular music with the Faculty of Information and Media Studies.

“I want a good understanding of the music industry. There is so much I still need to learn. Once I graduate, I’ll have a stronger sense of pop music and a good background for what I’m doing and why others do what they do,” she says.

In September, she continues her pop music program and is considering a minor in psychology.

Inspired by working with a woman who had dementia, Fisher saw first-hand the benefits of music therapy on relearning language. Fisher sang familiar songs, then added new ones and the woman was able to retain the words.

“Music sticks with people,” she says. “She sat down one day and played a piece at the piano perfectly.”

Perhaps it is natural for Fisher to balance multiple interests. Her father is Chippewa of the Thames First Nations and her mother is Italian. “One end of the spectrum to the other,” she says. “I am close to both cultures and both communities.”

She grew up listening to country music, especially at her grandparents’ house.

As a toddler Fisher sang You Are My Sunshine at the Ilderton Fair and won the contest. She continued to win contests throughout her childhood, but wasn’t serious about her career until three years ago.

At that point she found a manager, Remo di Cesare, and the following year put together a band with fellow Western student Jesse Grandmont on fiddle, Joe Grasso and Dave Negrijn on guitar, di Cesare on bass, Ryan VanAcker on drums and Lindsay Connor as a backup singer.

They are touring festivals this season, making music in the summer sun.

Nashville writing giant Jeffrey Steel sent her songs, which she included in her second release. She also loves the classic country crooners, such as Patsy Kline and Brenda Lee.

“I love old country and I’m super influenced by them,” she says. “The way it sounds, there is so much soul in it. I try to portray that in my music. I have a deep sultry voice like Patsy Kline and I like singing her stuff.”

She looks for new music that also suits her voice, whether it’s something written for her, by her or a cover of a Carrie Underwood or Beyonce tune.

In March 2011, she released her second single, Some Letter That You Wrote Me. She held a release party at the Chippewa Reserve and performed two sets with her band.

She also goes to Native schools to perform, talk to the students and be a role model for her community.

Fisher has a driving passion to use her talent to give back to her community. She performs at seniors’ residences weekly and charity events supporting everything from the fight against breast cancer to tsunami disaster relief to Partners in Research. Proceeds generated at the door for her CD release party were donated to the Canadian Liver Foundation.

She hopes to be signed by a major record label to give her the exposure and support to boost her career. Released July 14, her latest release, This Is Me Learning, is an apt title.

“It’s fast, upbeat and it’s got attitude. It’s about a guy who messes with a girl and she tells him to get out of here and she’s okay without him,” she says. “It’s a funny song.”

Upbeat and with attitude – all the right kind – could describe Fisher herself. On the cusp of a great career, she’s keeping everything in perspective, giving back to her community, learning the ropes of her chosen field and forging ahead.

“If something big happened with my career, I’d defer my education for a year or so,” Fisher says. And if that record label comes knocking, that could happen sooner than she plans.