Saturday, August 1, 2015
Hockey Lessons Key For Viper Alumni Brownlee’s Music Career:
Brownlee a current Country music star is a 2011 CCMA Rising Star award winner, also a recipient of his first JUNO Award nomination in February of 2013. Brownlee played two years in Vernon (2001-03). In 113 regular season games with the Vipers, Brownlee collected (14-goals-28-assists-42-points). Brownlee was drafted in 2003 in the 6th round, by the NHL Vancouver Canucks but retired from hockey after a short stint in the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL) with the Idaho Steelheads before becoming a Country music star.
Chad Brownlee's Player Profile:
This was in the Prince Albert Daily Herald Newspaper:
Hockey lessons key for Brownlee’s music career
Published on February 26, 2015
Chad Brownlee knows a little about performing under pressure.
The Canadian country music singer was drafted in the sixth round by the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks in 2003 after two seasons of Junior A hockey with the Vernon Vipers in the BCHL.
From there, the defenceman went on to play four years with the Minnesota State Mavericks in Mankato, Minn. serving as captain for the NCAA squad during part of his 135-game career with the team. He played 35 games with the ECHL's Idaho Steelheads in 2007 before calling it quits due to a combination of concussions and a pair of bad shoulders that both required surgery.
“I wouldn’t be the same artist-entertainer-songwriter that I am today without those years of hockey,” Brownlee says from his Langley, B.C. home, “It teaches you dedication, discipline and what it takes to be successful at what you do and how many hours it takes to be spent on your craft and be proficient at it and to have a product that people are drawn to. And it also gives you a thick skin. When you have coaches yelling an inch from your face and making you feel real small, you build a bit of a backbone and you find out who you are. I do take that with me with the music. I don’t think I would be as successful as I am now without those years of hockey.”
Brownlee plays the E.A. Rawlinson Centre on Thursday, March 26 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $48.30. He will be joined by label-mates Jess Moskaluke and Bobby Wills.
There’s even a neat tie-in to his previous career. The 30-year-old singer is auctioning off a guitar made of hockey sticks that he will be playing at times during the tour. The proceeds will go to the Tim Horton Children’s Foundation.
“We’re going to be playing it on stage throughout the tour so it’s going to get a little bit of love before the person who bids on it gets it.”
Brownlee will be doing 26 shows in 30 days, something he refers to as Groundhog Day but in a different place with different people every day.
Moskaluke, a Langenburg, Sask., product, had a gold record and hit with Cheap Wine and Cigarettes and was named Female Vocalist of the Year in 2013 at the Saskatchewan Country Music Association Awards.
Wills is a Calgary singer who placed three singles in the Top 15 last year.
Brownlee’s last trip to Prince Albert came when he opened for Dean Brody on Feb. 5, 2013. He says he’s looking forward to returning to the well-regarded soft-seat theatre.
“I’m not really the party guy,” he says. “We’ve done some tours where it’s more of the uptempo and drinking crowd. It’s nice to have that theatre where you can kind of get into a more dynamic show as far as breaking it down and having a real listening audience. I’m looking forward to being at the E.A. Rawlinson Centre.”
He says the show is new, bringing a new dynamic and a different side of himself to the stage.
In 2010, he released his debut self-titled album, earning a nomination for the CCMA Rising Star Award and winning the Canadian Country Music Conference best new artist showcase award.
He has since released Love Me or Leave Me in 2012 and The Fighters in 2014.
When the hit singles started to come, they came quickly. In 2013, Crash hit No. 10 and Where the Party At? peaked at No. 13. A year later Fallin' Over You (No. 10), Just Because (No. 11) When the Lights Go Down (No. 14) all hit the Top 40.
He also received a Juno nomination for top country album and a pair of Canadian Country Music Association award nominations for top male artist in 2012 and 2013.
After a series of singles in 2011 and 2012, Brownlee broke through in early 2013 with the Top 10 single Crash.
Brownlee says he can’t pinpoint where the momentum really started, saying that he thinks it was an accumulation of the singles that had gone to radio.
“Momentum can carry a lot of energy with it and if you can find a way to harness that energy and continue it for as long as you can,” he says. “It’s very healthy. We do live in an industry of a quick rise, quick fall so if you can find a way to create longevity, it’s important.”
He’s hoping to return to the studio after the tour ends with some material he’s written. The very earliest it would come out is year’s end but 2016 is more likely.
Music has been a part of Brownlee’s life for a long time.
He had played piano as a child and tenor saxophone in middle school.
He started writing in his first year of university, two years after he picked up a guitar. He says his hockey teammates were aware of his songwriting and very supportive.
Brownlee would play at parties after games when the guys were sitting around.
“You’d be surprised at some of the songs they requested,” he laughs. “A big tough guy wanting some Enrique Iglesias song to be played or something. That’s awesome.”
In his fourth year of university, he wrote a song called The Hero I See as a tribute to a youngster named Anthony Ford he knew who was suffering from leukemia.
“I think that song, as a songwriter, really motivated me to do it more because I saw the impact that it can have and the good that it can do.”
The song raised raising thousands for the Anthony Ford Foundation and earned Brownlee a nomination for the NCAA Hockey Humanitarian Award.
Brownlee later included Ford in the title track called The Fighters.
After choosing to leave hockey, Brownlee did a day job for a few years, only moving to a full-time career a couple years after releasing his debut single in 2009.
Even he questions his choice of professions.
“I went from the unstable world of professional sports to the equally or even more unstable world of the entertainment industry,” he says. “You really do have to trust your intuition and you have to have a love for it because if you don’t, you’re going to be stopped at your first moment of failure because obviously there are a lot of moments of failure for all success stories. If you have that love for it, it helps to break down those barriers and jump over the obstacles. This is such a tough industry and you really have to believe in yourself and your music and have people around you who believe in the same thing.”
Brownlee now skates once a week with the Canucks alumni and started a beer league team with his buddies in Langley so he does still share in the camaraderie that’s such a big part of hockey.
He chuckles when asked what a 15-year-old Chad Brownlee’s reaction would be to his success in music rather than hockey.
“He would probably start with a little bit of laughter and say ‘Well, the NHL is what I’m meant to do.’ At 15, I would have believed that 100 per cent. I think the one thing that I can tell other 15-year-olds is at that moment, that is your dream and it might be your dream for the rest of your life. You might be successful but be prepared for your dreams to change and it’s OK if they do.
“I think if I had known that, it would have been a little bit easier transition for me from hockey to music. We become different people and we become interested in different things and our heart lies in different areas.”