Female country singers to open CCMA Awards show with Shania Twain tribute


TORONTO — Three of Canadian country music’s new generation of female voices are gearing up for a tribute to Shania Twain.

Jess Moskaluke, Kira Isabella and Madeline Merlo will open next month’s Canadian Country Music Association Awards with an homage to the Timmons, Ont. native, organizers announced on Tuesday.

The trio of singers will each perform one of Twain’s songs before the superstar joins them onstage to begin her hosting duties for the live broadcast on Sept. 9.

It’s a “girl power” moment Moskaluke says she never dreamed would happen. She’s been a longtime Twain fan and regularly credits the country singer with giving her the confidence to pursue a music career.

“I had every album, I know every word to every song — whether it was a single or not,” Moskaluke says.

“I remember her music always being a part of my life.”

Over the past few weeks Moskaluke has been texting with Isabella and Merlo to iron out the details of their collaboration. They’ve discussed their outfits, the songs they’ll sing, and how excited they are to meet Twain for the first time.

Moskaluke will perform “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!” while Merlo is down for a rendition of “Life’s About to Get Good,” Twain’s comeback single released last year. Isabella is set to offer her take on “Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under?” one of the singer’s earlier tracks.

They’ll unite to sing “Honey, I’m Home,” a foot-stomping finish to their set.

Moskaluke, 28, grew up in Saskatchewan during the 1990s when she says artists like Twain, Faith Hill, Martina McBride and LeAnn Rimes ruled over the country music airwaves.

“For me, Shania was the one really paving the way,” she says.

Moskaluke has a few other things to be excited about at this year’s show. She’s tied with Brett Kissel for the most CCMA nominations — they each have six. Merlo is nominated for female artist of the year.

“Brett always cleans house,” Moskaluke says of her friend. “Year after year he has a fantastic career.”

But Moskaluke’s country stardom, which includes three consecutive female artist wins at the CCMAs, is opening new doors in Nashville.

She’s been working on a number of collaborations she’s keeping under wraps, and this summer recorded a Christmas album that’ll be released later this year.

“I always thought I’d have to work really hard to get into the Christmas spirit,” she says of her studio time in July.

“But you can’t hear Christmas spirit, you just have to sing the song… We put up a Christmas tree and that’s it.”

Moskaluke also plans to get married this weekend at her Saskatchewan farm, which she says added another layer of complications to her busy schedule.

“I haven’t had time to breathe. I don’t eat anymore, or sleep, because there’s no time for that,” she jokes.

“I guess I’m overwhelmed with excitement.”

The CCMAs air Sept. 9 on CBC.

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David Friend, The Canadian Press