Country star Jess Moskaluke was riding high in early 2020. Her single Country Girls was burning up the charts and became her first No. 1 hit in early March, an amazing feat if you consider that she has been part of the Canadian music scene for almost a decade.
Since bursting onto the scene with a New Artist Showcase Award at the Canadian Country Music Association Awards in 2011, the Saskatchewan native has had the kind of commercial and critical success that has placed her in the same category as her childhood idol Shania Twain. In fact, Moskaluke is the first female country artist since Twain to achieve CRIA Platinum single status for her song Cheap Wine and Cigarettes off her album Light up the Night. Moskaluke also participated in a special tribute to Twain during the 2018 Canadian Country Music Awards.
But nothing ever comes easy in the modern music industry and Moskaluke accordingly appreciated the recognition that she received in early March.
“I’m 10-plus years into this career, 17 radio singles released, five albums deep, and the timing couldn’t possibly be any more perfect than right now,” she said on Facebook at the time about her chart-topping single.
Early March was of course also when the “world was starting to shut down” as Moskaluke put it, who at the time was two shows into an extensive national tour.
“I was going to be able to have a fun No. 1 party with all my friends on tour and I was going to be able to play that song every single night for a bunch of fans in clubs and arenas all across the country for the next several months, but none of that happened,” she said.
But if COVID-19 “definitely put bit of a damper” on the celebrations, getting a No. 1 hit was “still rewarding for myself as well as my team who worked hard to help me make sure that the song had as many ears as possible,” said Moskaluke. “It doesn’t take away from any of the positive energy. I’m hoping that the next No.1 will be a little bit different scenario.”
Things will certainly be different when Moskaluke plays the Mary Winspear Centre starting Oct. 8 through Oct. 11 as part of a residency at the Mary Winspear Centre. Each evening will see only 50 fans in the audience with spectators socially distanced along with other measures owing to COVID-19. This said, Moskaluke is familiar with the residency format, and the music will remain front and centre.
Moskaluke arrives in Sidney with a Juno for the 2017 album Kiss Me Quiet, three consecutive Canadian Country Music Association awards for Female Artist of the Year (2014 to 2016) and the 2018 Canadian Country Music Association Award for Best Album for Past the Past. These major awards, along with countless nominations and other accolades, speak to the repertoire and reach of Moskaluke, who is preparing to release a new single next week.
Moskaluke’s appearance in Sidney also continues her return to live touring.
“I have only played one live in-person [show] since the lockdown begun in March and it was very different,” she said. “We did a socially distanced hotel concert where we played on the roof of a parkade and everybody bought their way into the show by purchasing a hotel room. They and their bubble buddies watched from the same room. It was safe and secure and everybody did really great. It was an amazing feeling to get back out there. It was a real great reminder that I absolutely adore what I do.”
Being “stuck in the same four walls” was really challenging, said Moskaluke. “It’s tough to be creative in that situation,” she said.
“Singing is my favourite thing to do. Performing on stage for people is my favourite thing to do and it was really not possible to do that.”
Her upcoming Sidney shows now offer that very opportunity and Moskaluke cannot wait to hit the stage, starting at 7:30 p.m. each night.
“We will have a set list and that is the one thing that doesn’t change throughout COVID — a show is a show and the music will be the same.”
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