When Maple Ridge, BC-based Madeline Merlo signed to RGK Management and Open Road Recordings in February 2013 it was a dream come true for the 20-year-old Country singer/songwriter, and the realization of an ambition she's had since she first took the stage as a child. "My father was a musician and I think it's in my DNA to be an artist," Merlo says. "I remember always knowing that was what I wanted to do. It's always been music for me."
Merlo's first single "Sinking Like A Stone" hit iTunes worldwide, Tuesday, February 18th, 2014, and will be released to Canadian country radio Tuesday, February 25th. CMT Canada will premiere the video exclusively on Tuesday, March 4th, as part of a two-week "Fresh Face" artist campaign.
Local buzz has been swirling around Merlo for months – but recently skyrocketed when her hometown station (93.7 JRfm Vancouver) selected "Sinking Like A Stone" to be featured in their weeknight New Country Challenge. The song received a massive response, winning five consecutive nights – and was promptly added to rotation.
Merlo first played in a band and began gigging in high school and continued to hone her vocal chops by performing in musical theatre productions and taking every opportunity she could to further her skills as a performer, recording artist and songwriter. "From a very young age I did commercials, sang in competitions and took advantage of any chance I got to let my creative energy out."
Her early attraction to country music was instinctual, she continues: "The first concert I went to was Shania Twain. The first song I performed in a competition was a Carolyn Dawn Johnson song and country has just always worked for me. I love the instrumentation, the intricate musical details, and the fact that the songs so often tell the kind of stories you can take positive messages from."
Even before signing to RGK and ORR, Merlo maintained an intensely busy schedule; writing and recording with BC-based songwriter/producer, Dan Swinimer a minimum of four days a week and gigging several times a month. "Mostly at coffee houses for just a few people," Merlo says, "but I never cared how many people were there. I just wanted to sing for anyone who would listen and wanted to hear my music."
It was Swinimer who invited RGK's Ron Kitchener to hear Merlo in action at Vancouver's Railway Club in December 2012, Merlo says, adding that signing to RGK and ORR was a lucky, right place right time scenario: "I guess he liked what he heard and decided to sign me after that."
Kitchener not only like what he heard, after seeing Merlo perform, he believed he'd found a world-class talent. "It was Madeline's voice that grabbed my attention first," Kitchener says, "but after spending time with her I realized that with her confidence, talent and general approach to life, she's destined to go places and we're highly motivated to bring her music to the masses."
Madeline Merlo has always had an eclectic taste in music, but her sound and style are grounded in the music she grew up on, the classic country of artists like Johnny Cash and Patsy Cline, R&B greats Etta James and Billy Holiday and modern superstars such as Miranda Lambert. But although you can hear shades of those artists in her voice, she has a style all her own, chops, spirit and soul to spare, and a unique sound she hopes will set her apart from the pack when she releases her first recordings in early 2014.