The house that Brandt built

Canada's most awarded male country artist brings his first full tour in four years to Kamloops

From pediatric nurse to top-ranked country artist to builder of dreams, Paul Brandt is something of a renaissance man who has rooted his career in firm conviction.

The Alberta-based country artist is back in town Saturday, March 3, showcasing his 10 thalbum, Give It Away.

"It's been four years since we've really done a full tour," he said, while explaining the hiatus. "We started a family of our own. We had a baby daughter, Lily, in 2010, and Joseph's now 31/2. We're just having a blast with them. It's been great."

The other reason - secondary, of course - is hinted by the title track from the new recording:

The world is spinning so fast,

Ain't no slowing it down now,

And there ain't a lot that lasts,

But I think I've found a way to make love stay,

You've got to give it away.

The single is the theme song of the CMT series Build It Forward, which Brandt has been working on in the interim. The reality show went on air just last year, but hosting it moved Brandt from stage lights to TV production set in recent years, to the extent where he wondered about his music career.

"I was worried about that after four years of doing TV."

The break was well worth the effort in his mind. Build It Forward is a bit like Habitat for Humanity on prime time TV. The show has communities rallying to help families achieve the dream of home ownership while individuals give back through volunteering. Brandt and his wife, Elizabeth, came up with the idea while watching an extreme home-conversion show.

"We thought it would be great to do something with our music," he recalled. "It was such a life-changing project for the couples involved. It was a great project. I'd never done anything like that before. Once that idea was out there, we had 1.4 million pledges in six months."

The TV stint was a continuation of the Brandt's ongoing philanthropic activities for the charities Samaritan's Purse and World Vision. His social convictions are rooted in Christian belief, though Brandt credits the influence of his parents. His father is a paramedic; his mother a registered nurse.

"Their inspiration was priceless, providing limitless ideas of what life can be about."

Give It Away could serve as an anthem for the music industry in the 21 stcentury, since CDs are a hard sell these days: "There is a bit of a twist to that, yes."

Not that the industry hasn't been good to Brandt. He holds the distinction of being Canada's most awarded male country artist. My Heart Has a History, his first single, reached No. 1 in Canada back in the late '90s. He worked with his label, Warner/Reprise, on the next two albums, developing Nashville connections, but after the third his choice became clear.

"My wife and I, early on, took a step back when I was asked by a label, 'What do you believe in, your career or your family?' I knew I couldn't give the answer they were looking for."

Brandt opted to leave the label and start his own. He hasn't looked back since with each successive recording project netting an album of the year award, either at the Junos or from the Canadian Country Music Association. Give It Away, with its latest single Together Again, is likely to put him back in the winning circle.

Another recent release, The Now boxed set, includes highlights from his 15 years of recording, seven discs in all with one slot left blank. Using a discount code, fans will be able to download his forthcoming bluegrass/gospel album, Just As I Am, once its released next fall. The album will include sessions with Ricky Skaggs, Patti Loveless and High River, the band of brothers that opens for him next weekend in Kamloops.

"I'm really excited about it," he said.

His advice to those pursuing their dreams? You have to establish how you define the success you're seeking.

"I realized early on in my career that if it wasn't for the love of it, the priority gets lost pretty quickly."


WHO:Paul Brandt

WHEN:Saturday, March 3, 7:30 p.m.

WHERE:Interior Savings Centre

TICKETS:$29.50, $47.50 or $69.50, available from Ticketmaster outlets or Rogers Wireless Box Office

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