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Sultry and hard-hitting with liberal doses of twang, say hello to Ontario’s Diane Chase. A relative newcomer, this capable blonde delivers, impressively, from the first ear-grabbing note on In The Middle Of Something (Spin Records).
Chase, who owns a stylish rock and country voice ala Tanya Tucker, covers the diversity of cars, lost love, positive thinking, and some Clint Black adoration on ten tracks, seven of which she co-wrote. For the singer who once fronted a band Shania Twain had joined, Chase’s new country talents have caught her, as her album suggests, in the middle of something. And it’s something exciting.
She won the Ontario Country Performer and Fan Association Female Vocalist of the Year award in 2000 and 2002. She’s also had her four videos shown on CMT. Then, there’s her five album singles. They all went Top 20 on the Canadian charts. Impressed? There’s more. Top country draw cards Alabama, and the equally impressive Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, have had Chase open shows. Along the way, there’s been a host of local music nominations, too. No doubt, it’s been a busy last 3 years. And just to keep the charge up, Chase is now working on a 2004 album.
Chase powers In The Middle Of Something with styles drifting from easy to energetic. From the hard-nailed "Walkin’ Away With You", the giggly liberation heard on "Zihuatanejo", through to the melting emotions of "How Do I Break Your Heart" featuring Jason Barry, the album wins a thumbs-up award for pop awareness and country grounding.
Recently, CountryReview.com spoke with Diane about making music, making way for Shania, and making plans.
CR: First, congratulations on the album. Can you tell us a little of what recording it was like?
Diane Chase: It was such a learning experience! My producer Rick Hutt has a way of helping an artist find their own voice. It felt a bit like getting a college education!
CR: On the album, you've written with several writers, was that difficult? How and when did you write for the album? What was it like?
DC: I have great experiences writing with different people. Everyone has different strengths and sometimes the combination can result in a hit song. The writing process is a continual one for me. Sometimes a song idea is triggered by a hooky phrase, a solemn moment or a funny experience. There's never a shortage of inspiration!
CR: On the album, the song "Pennies From Heaven" explores the trials of life, while encouraging us to look for the opportunities. What is the story behind this song?
DC: The inspiration behind this song was a friend of mine that was going through a hard time in his love life and was very down in the dumps. The encouragement came in the form of the song with its message that you can change any unfortunate situation, but the change must first start with a positive outlook.
CR: Let’s get personal. What’s the current state of country music, as you see it? What impact does radio have on the career of an independent artist?
DC: I think country music is cyclical like every other industry. It has its highs and lows like everything else, although it feels as though we've been in this low for quite a while. Many factors contribute to that. The state of the music industry in general has been quite affected by the Internet and Napster and hopefully the powers that be can come up with a solution that suits us all. I think Microsoft’s IPOD is a good start.
As an independent artist, we rely heavily on radio to get our music out to listeners, which will in turn get them into stores to purchase our product. When that doesn't happen, perhaps because of Internet downloading, we all suffer. If there is no music industry, there will be no music.
CR: Who are your main musical influences, and why?
DC: Wow, there are so many! Some of my first musical influences were Linda Ronstadt, Donna Summer, Barbra Streisand and Pat Benatar – how's that for versatility? There are many people I admire in this industry, but to pick a couple, I would have to say Bonnie Rait and Dolly Parton for their talent, staying power, and for the fact that they're over 50 and still rockin'!
CR: Who are you currently listening to in your CD player?
DC: I have a 5 disc player, so, let me think, there's Keith Urban, Ricky Martin, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Barry White, and Sammy Hagar.
CR: I must ask: Shania Twain. What is the story there?
DC: Both Eileen (Shania) and I grew up in Northern Ontario – her in Timmins, myself in Sudbury. We were in different bands, but had the same booking agent. Eventually, I made a decision to move to Toronto to pursue additional musical opportunities, so the Agent needed to find another lead singer for my band. They decided to pull Eileen out of her band in Timmins to fill the spot. We worked together for a short while in the transition, and she was with the band for a year or two. When people ask how the road to success differs between us, I simply say that Shania took the interstate, and I’ve taken the scenic route!
CR: You have a new album out in early 2004. Can you tell us what we can expect? How many songs have you written for the album, and what have you relied on for inspiration?
DC: The new CD is slated for release in March 2004, and we're incredibly excited!! This CD will lean a little more towards my country roots and encompass a lot more of my musical influences. I've co-written 5 of the 10 tracks on the album, plus we've thrown in a rendition of my most favorite old cover by Jeannie C. Riley called "Harper Valley PTA". It's gonna be great!!
CR: What would you like your fans to know about you?
DC: That I am grateful for the opportunity to do what I love most in life, and I'm grateful to the people who enable me to do that – the fans!!!! Oh, and I love to have fun!!!!
CR: Diane thanks for your time. We wish you continued success.
DC: Thanks so much.
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