Porter was in Medicine Hat at the start of stampede week taking a break before heading to Toronto for some festival performances.
She was in that city in June for a week to take part in the inaugural CCMA Discovery Program. Hundreds applied to be included, sending in a few songs and a video, but only six were chosen by a jury.
“I was lucky enough to get into the Top 6,” says Porter.
The six participants were flown to Toronto where they spent a week receiving advice from various industry experts including managers and booking agencies.
“There was a lot of information about how to develop your own team,” explains Porter.
Then they received advice from vocal and style coaches, had a makeover and had helping shopping for an outfit for a performance for industry officials at the end of the week.
“It was cool, (but) it was also nerve-wracking,” adds Porter, about the performance opportunity. “These are the top professionals working in country music in Canada.”
During September’s Country Music Week in Edmonton, Porter will perform during the CCMA Discovery Showcase in hopes of winning the CCMA Discovery Award. That prize includes music video funding, a Masterbilt acoustic guitar, cash and other industry-related prizes.
Even if she doesn’t win, Porter has found these professionals to be very supportive and she will be able to use a lot of what she has learned moving forward with her own music career.
She has released two country singles so far — I’d Wish I’d Known and Never Gonna Let You — as well as the music videos to go along with each. The multi-talented youngest sibling of Canadian Idol Kalan, MacKenzie is hands-on when it comes to her career. She directs, produces and acts in her music videos.
“I am a little bit of a control freak,” she admits with a laugh. “I like to know what is going out with my name all the time.”
She also has lofty goals. Porter hopes to sign with a label in the United States, but until then is content releasing singles.
“In this market, I don’t think you need to release albums as much. People are buying singles. I can establish myself as an artist before putting out an album.”
Porter has been writing a lot the past year and has 75 songs to choose from when it comes to releasing material. She’s considering releasing a six-song EP next year if she doesn’t get picked up by a label before then.
She is spending a lot of time in Nashville working with country music producers and writers.
“If you want to be in country music you have to spend a lot of time down there. I’m working with amazing writers ... writers working with Faith Hill. Your craft as a writer just grows.”
Porter has gravitated to the country genre largely because of her upbringing on a bison ranch near Irvine. There was always country music playing on the radio in both her own house and her grandmother’s home. She considers her sound more pop-country and throws some classical elements into the mix thanks to her classical training as a youngster.
Acting also plays a large role in Porter’s life as she tries to build a career based on both music and that craft. She has two films coming out later this year and is spending the summer focusing on her music. In the fall, she’ll return to the west coast and seek out auditions for new acting projects.
For now she is enjoying her fast-rising success. She’ll be in the audience and listening with bated breath as her name is called as a nominee for the CCMA’s Rising Star Award.
Porter wasn’t expecting such an honour so early in her music career.
“I knew I was part of the Top 10 who could be nominees, but I thought I would never get in. There were too many good artists. I actually forgot about it,” explains Porter.
The morning the nominees were announced, she received a call from her radio promotions manager, and a text from Caroline Dawn Johnson, who co-wrote and produced Porter’s single Never Gonna Let You.
“It was a good morning for me. I’m just so happy to be nominated.”