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Dorion Up For Eight At Manitoba Country Music Association Awards

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Country music fans in the Parkland will be paying close attention when the Manitoba Country Music Association Awards are presented, Nov. 6.

Dauphin’s Desiree Dorion has been nominated for eight awards, including Female Artist of the Year.

The local singer-songwriter is also nominated for the Interactive Artist, Duo or Group Award, NCI FM.

Indigenous Country Music Award, Single of the Year, Music Video of the Year and Song of the Year (Songwriters) for “Sometimes I Drink”, Album of the Year for Break the Chain and Fans Choice Award.
Dorion was driving to a show in Calgary when the nominees were announced.

“And then I was just so busy touring in August and September that it’s really just starting to set in now. I haven’t really had a whole lot of time to think about it,” she said, adding she is now getting ready for the awards show, which will be streamed live on multiple platforms and include performances by several of Manitoba’s top country music acts.

Dorion is hoping to have a private function, getting together with some other nominees to celebrate.

Dorion guesses she has been singing for about 30 years, but could not pinpoint any one thing that got her interested.

“I feel like it’s always been just something that I’ve just done naturally. And I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to take what has come natural for me and turn that into somewhat of a career. I’ve been pretty lucky in that sense, I think,” she said.

Dorion never took any guitar lessons, but about 10 years ago, she did a week of voice lessons in Nashville.

“But really, the artistic component has been self taught. I’ve had a lot of mentors over the years that have really helped teach me about the business aspect of music and how to be a working artist. So that has really served me well over the years,” she said. “Break the Chain”, Dorion’s fifth album, was released, Feb. 7, 2020, and is her most successful to date. The single “Sometimes I Drink”, which was released, June 28, of this year is not included on any album and is her most successful song, having hit the top 100 on the Canadian country music charts for nine straight weeks. It recently hit number one on the Now Country 104.7 FM Top 40 chart.

At this point, Dorion does not know if she will include the song on an album.

“I have a few ideas that I want to maybe run with in the future. I’m just not sure if that one is going to find it’s way onto an album project at some point,” she added. If Dorion’s name is called as a winner, it will not be her first. She won Song of the Year for “Whiskey Knows” in 2017 and two years ago, took home the Indigenous Artist of the Year.

Dorion sees the nominations as an acknowledgment by her peers in the music industry that her work should be recognized.

“That acknowledgment is really cool because it’s coming from my peers who are actively working in the country music industry in Manitoba. So that’s pretty special,” she said.

“And secondly, the MCMA awards, to be candid, have really just been an exciting opportunity for country artists to get together and have a big party every year and catch up with each other. What I really look forward to is having just one night a year when we can all come together to just hang out and catch up and say hi. Check in on each other.”

Because of the pandemic, this year’s award show will be done virtually. But Dorion hopes to catch up with at least some of her compatriots in a private viewing party.

One of the awards - the Interactive Artists Award - highlights the need to be active on social media during a pandemic.

“It’s been more important than ever, I think. It’s a blessing and a curse, because I don’t want to be the person who is tied to my phone or tied to the computer all day, every day. I definitely try and carve out time for myself where I’m not staring at a screen,” she said. “But on the flip side of that, a lot of work and a lot of opportunities come from social media. So if you’re not actively in that realm, it can be detrimental, I think, in the sense of staying connected to other artists and staying connected to your fan base.”

Being a role model, Dorion said, comes with the territory for anyone who is in the public eye. She knows there are young people, particularly in First Nations or Indigenous communities, that look up to her and message her on a regular basis asking for advice.

“Definitely, I think being an Indigenous artist, that just naturally comes with the territory,” she said.

Dorion will be back in the studio at the end of the month to record a song she wrote in Nashville, called “I Meant What I Said.”

“And I’m also working on a top secret collaboration as a duet and I’m really, really excited about that. But I’m can’t really say a whole lot about it right now,” she added.

When it comes to writing songs, Dorion said it is a process. With some of her early work, she understood the structure of a song, but she feels she has improved lyrically since the first adult album she released in 2010.

“If I were to look back on how my writing has progressed, I’m using a lot more metaphors. I’m using a lot more internal rhymes. A lot more sound-alike rhymes in terms of the lyrical content of my songs,” she said. “I used to also be more focused on writing stuff that I was personally connected to in some way shape or form. And I think that will always be important to me.”

Dorion is learning to place herself into the character within a song or to imagine characters within the context of a song, which allows her to write about things she may not relate to on a personal level.

“But that I know other people might relate to. That’s coming a bit more freely to me these days,” she said.

Dorion hopes she is improving as an artist.

“Otherwise, if you’re not making any progress, then what’s the point,” she said.

Dorion is thankful for the recognition from her peers, for recognizing the work she has been doing.

“I’ve been working really hard and trying to find new ways to keep myself relevent and present. I just want to work in the music industry as long as I can and I hope to do it for many more years,” she said, adding some of her influences include traditional country music artists such as Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, Kitty Wells, Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash.

“As I grew older, in my early teens, Crystal Shawanda was somebody I really looked up to. She is probably the most successful Indigenous country artist in history. So I was really fortunate when she agreed to write “Sometimes I Drink” with me,” she said, adding now she listens to more Americana artists and not as much of the mainstream country acts.

Dorion is also looking forward to touring again. She has some shows at the end of the month and already has some bookings into October and into December. And she hopes to do another Canadian tour in the new year.

Two other Parkland artists were also nominated for awards.

Emma Peterson of Winnipegosis is nominated for two awards - Song of the Year for “Hurt Like Hell” and Female Artist of the Year and Roblin’s Ryan Keown is up for Male Artist of the Year.

There's more great stories in this week's TMC Edition of the Dauphin Herald!

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Doug Zywina
REPORTER
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