For Kira Isabella, country music was somewhat of an import.
Her dad, who was for a time stationed in Cold Lake, Alta., brought it back with him and played it when Isabella was growing up in Ottawa.
She was first interested in music at age seven and later found inspiration in country artists like Shania Twain. Of course, there were others, too. Martina McBride, Faith Hill and Terri Clark are among those she calls inspirations in her taking up the craft.
“When I started singing, I just really fell in love with the women of country music,” she told KTW.
Since then, Isabella has grown up as a pop and country singer and into somewhat of a Canadian country marvel.
She was just 19 when she was named a rising star by the Canadian Country Music Awards.
That award was just the first of many awards and nominations to follow, including being named CCMA female artist of the year in 2014, with further nominations for that award in 2015 and 2016.
Her second album, Caffeine and Big Dreams, was nominated for a Juno Award for country album of the year in 2015.
She was also among a trio of young Canadian country musicians to pay tribute to Twain at the 2018 CCMAs, performing alongside Jess Moskaluke and Madeline Merlo, with whom she said she feels sisterhood.
“In the past few years the females have really, really come together,” she said, adding that there’s room for everyone on the Canadian country airwaves — not just men.
Now, Isabella is halfway through the release of two EPs. The first, Side A, came in early December and has tracks she will soon perform on stage in Kamloops as part of her shows with Aaron Pritchett at Cactus Jack’s Nightclub on Wednesday and Thursday.
Isabella and Pritchett have played together before, but they will soon get to know each other a lot better, travelling and living on the same bus for the duration of Pritchett’s Out on the Town tour, which spans the country and ends in late February.
The two will also get to know each other on stage, with a duet planned — and a little more.
“One of his songs and one of mine, and mine is actually going to be a new one,” Isabella said.
While Isabella only wrote one track on her upcoming second EP, expected some time in 2019 and called Side B, she said she’s still got a lot of creative control over her music.
“It’s just about taking other people’s opinions and understanding how they’re trying to help. I’m always open to that, but at the end of the day the final decision is mine,” she said.
Isabella started out writing poetry, and has written many of her own songs, but she said she’s always identified more as a singer.
“That’s kind of how I grew up, but I always have written and collaborated with other people and written music,” she said.
And the rest? She still feels they’re her own songs.
“Quarterback is probably one song that I didn’t write that I just connected with so much. And when I connect with something I really feel I can emote it.
“Country music is all about storytelling. If I feel like I’m telling a story in my way with my own voice, I’m happy about it,” she said.
Tickets are limited, but still available for $30 for both the Jan. 16 and Jan. 17 shows at Cactus Jack’s, 130 Fifth Ave. at 7 p.m. Find them online at kamtix.ca.