Country star Lisa Brokop has spent practically her entire life in music. Originally from Surrey, B.C., she was on-stage with her musical family at age 7. By 15, she was performing professionally in Vancouver, and her debut Canadian album appeared in 1991, when she was only 17. Her first major record deal was made 20 years ago — and Brokop is celebrating that 20-year mark on her “mini-tour” through Western Canada, which lands in Cranbrook Thursday, Sept. 4.
This week Brokop spoke to the Townsman from her home in Nashville, Tennessee, prior to hitting the road to Canada.
“I can’t wait. I’m packing my sweaters, my warm fuzzy socks — I know it’s not that cold up there, but compared to here …”
A twenty year celebration — but who’s counting, right?
“It’s actually been a little more than that,” Brokop said, “but officially 20 years of having record deals and being on the radio in North America. I can’t believe it, that 20 years has gone by.”
It’s seven albums and a string of hit singles later, which Brokop is looking forward to rolling out in her B.C. shows.
“I’m starting out in Chilliwack, which is near my hometown of Surrey, and I’m planning on doing some of the old songs that got me started in the business, that I hope people will recognize. And of course some new ones that I’ve just had out recently, some in-betweeners, some stuff that I like to do.”
The shows themselves will be of an up-close and personal nature. Two Calgary musicians — Darcy Johnstone and John Thiel — will be joining Brokop in Canada, to make for an intimate evening.
“It will be bass, guitar and me on acoustic. It’s going to really simple, so I can tell stories about the songs, talk to the people so they can hear the words and really make it an intimate setting.”
With a career like hers, Brokop is no stranger to the touring life on the road. She explains how it’s changed for her over the years.
“Back in the early days, when those 20 years were first starting, I was on the road a lot. I was much younger. My first record deal was Capital Records, I was signed to them and was having some success with a couple of singles, so there was a lot of stuff going on. There was a three month period where we did 80 or 90 dates, it was just ridiculous. And all over the place, jumping all over the country. There was never a straight line or proper routing.
“But that was the way it was then. But now, part of it is the business has changed a little bit. There’s not quite as much to-do — no matter what level you’re at. I also have a family now. I have a little girl who just turned five. So I have to coordinate a little bit differently.”
One thing that hasn’t changed is the charge she gets as a performer, in front of and interacting with an audience.
“It’s the key,” Brokop said. “It’s what got us into music, it’s what keeps us going, that magical thing when you sing a song and people respond, and you know that they like it, there’s nothing better.”
As soon as she graduated from high school, Brokop moved to Nashville to further her music career.
“Nashville is an artists’ community for sure. My husband’s downstairs right now writing with a co-writer. That’s a standard thing around here (Brokop and her husband Paul Jefferson also record and perform as a duo — The Jeffersons).
“Nashville is a writing mecca,” Brokop said. “I always say if you’re a new writer that wants to be a songwriter in the music business — even if it’s not Country, necessarily — if you want to write in whatever genre, this is the place to be. This is where you hone your chops. It’s awesome. It’s a normal thing, to be writing.”
Brokop’s latest album release (“Beautiful Tragedy”) was in 2008. She was in the studio this year cutting some tracks, and some new singles were released, but a planned new album has been delayed somewhat, she said.
“But I will be doing the new songs when I come through on this tour.
“And I’ve got a bit of a new idea, which I’m going to tell everyone about — it has to do with coming full circle, in a way. When I first started out, I would sit in with other musicians and bands, and I would sing traditional Country music — things like Pasty Cline, Tammy Wynette … I’ve been wanting to combine more of that in my show, possibly in a recorded project. I’m calling it at this point the Patsy Cline project. So I’m going to do some of those songs as well in the show, and talk to the people about it.”
Brokop takes the stage the Key City Theatre on Thursday, Sept. 4, at 7:30 p.m. She is asked if she has any message for the people of Cranbrook prior to her arrival.
“I want to say that I’m very excited. I haven’t been to Cranbrook in many, many years, probably at least 15 years. It looks like it’s a beautiful little theatre, so I’m excited to play there. And I hope we have a lot of fun. Come out and see it.”