When 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 from Maple Ridge.
“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 in February and skyrocketed when 93.7 JRfm Vancouver selected the song 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.
“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.
“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 , Merlo maintained an intensely busy schedule; writing and recording with BC-based producer, Dan Swinimer a minimum of four days a week and gigging several times a month.
“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.
Meet & Greet
• Meet Madeline Merlo at London Drugs in Maple Ridge on Sept. 20 between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. She will appear at London Drugs in Abbotsford on Saturday, Sept. 13 and Coquitlam Centre’s London Drugs Sunday, Sept. 14 from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. More at madelinemerlo.com.