Interview with Canadian Country-Pop Artist Mandy McMillan

Today on What On What’s Good with Jovin Tardif, I am here with Edmonton-born country-pop artist Mandy McMillan.  In our interview, we discuss musical influences, moving to Nashville, tips for musicians, her latest singles and more.


Quick Fun Facts & Interesting Information about Mandy McMillan

  • She won a Country Music Television Canada Contest in 2008.
  • McMillan moved from small town Stony Plain, Alberta to Nashville.
  • Mandy opened for Trisha Yearwood and Blake Shelton.
  • She released her self-titled EP in 2014.
  • Her latest single is “Haven’t We All Been”.
  • McMillan’s summer release was “Dream Catcher“.
  • Her upcoming album “Dream Catcher” is due in 2021.

1. You started in the music industry in 2008 on a “CMT Karaoke Star”. Can you tell us a bit about the singing competition and some of your favourite moments?

CMT Karaoke Star genuinely changed my life. It was by fate that I ended up hearing about the competition through the radio a few days before, then happening to have the day off from work and a quick phone call to my best friend to navigate me through the city to find the venue, but I made it and it was unbelievable!

I didn’t quite know what I was getting myself into with the competition.  It wasn’t until I got there that I realized it was for CMT and going to be broadcast on TV. Also – as a random act of faith – they had added “When You Say Nothing at All” to the list of songs to choose from, which just happened to be one of my favourites. I went into the competition with the hopes of just having a fun time and taking it all in. I was so grateful when I got the call that I had made it into the Top 10.

Then, to end up winning for my city of Edmonton was a dream come true! In the prize package, I got to perform on stage opening up for Trisha Yearwood at Big Valley Jamboree that year.  Then I got to fly to Toronto for the taping of the finale. It genuinely lit a fire within me. Being able to experience the music industry on that level and being able to meet so many like-minded musicians from across Canada was truly inspiring.

2. Growing up you listened to Shania Twain, Garth Brooks, and George Fox. Can you tell us a favourite song from each artist and why?

Yes I had a love for music at an early age.  I can remember my cousin – who used to babysit us – always watching music videos. She introduced me to so much music, including country, classic rock, and pop. We would watch the country music channel and Shania and Garth Brooks stood out so much to me with their enthusiasm and love for performing. Canadian legend George Fox was one of my mom’s favourites.  I can remember taking long road trips to visit my grandparents in Saskatchewan where we would wear out his tape! Another road trip staple was REO Speedwagon, which is still one of my favourites to this day.

Favourite songs from each artist would be “Rock this Country” by Shania.  I can’t help but dance when this one comes on – along with “Unanswered Prayers” by Garth Brooks and “No Trespassing” by George Fox.

3. What was it like the first time you moved from Canada to Nashville to pursue your professional career?

Moving from Canada to Nashville in pursuit of my music career was an amazing experience. It really taught me a lot about perseverance, faith, self-love and determination. It was a big decision, but moving to Nashville allowed me to genuinely and authentically find myself.  I would not be the person I am today without that experience. I moved by myself and had to learn a lot about trusting my intuition and overcoming my fears.

4. You have opened for musical artists such as Trisha Yearwood and Blake Shelton. Any fond memories from the experiences or any fun behind-the-scenes stories?

Well the fun fact about opening up for Trisha Yearwood is that I had no idea it was happening!

As I described earlier, it was due to me winning Karaoke Star and the prize package included performing at Big Valley Jamboree. I was under the impression that I was going to be singing on one of the side stages.  I was so excited to just be there! When I arrived at the location about 30 mins before my performance, the radio person explained what was going to happen and then pointed at the big stage and was like, “Follow me!”

My jaw dropped as we headed for the stage. This was probably the best case scenario because I had no time to get nervous. I just jumped on stage and started singing!

Opening up for Blake Shelton was really fun, as well! It was all part of announcing that Blake was doing a surprise full band performance at his venue “Ol Red” in Nashville. I got the call the day before and they asked me to come down and play a set and then announce the surprise show. It was so amazing to be a part of that moment as tourists come from all over the world to Nashville in hopes of running into or seeing one of their favourite artists play. I got to help make that come true for them.

5. Do you have any advice or tips for upcoming singers/songwriters?

My greatest advice to upcoming singers and songwriters would be to believe in their value and stay true to who they are and what their visions are. Also – make sure to enjoy the journey! There are a lot of twists and turns along the way and sometimes things may not end up the way you thought, but you’ve already succeeded if you’re having a great time!

6. Your latest song “Haven’t We All Been” follows your summer release, “Dream Catcher”, what else can we expect from the upcoming album “Dream Catcher” coming out in 2021?

I’m really excited to be releasing my album this year. These are songs that I have written/ co-written over the past five years. Each one of them speaks to a characteristic of “Mandy”. I was able to co-produce these songs with my producer Simon Gugala. We allowed for each song to shine in its own individuality. I believe that’s the message that I want the listeners to get. Be unique and allow yourself to shine, regardless of any type of box that someone tries to put you into.

A song that I am looking forward to releasing is called “Wanted”. It’s inspired by my best friend Dalyce, who is my “ride or die” and can walk into a room and turn heads with her amazing energy. The song is about a powerful woman who naturally gets attention and is “wanted” but she holds her ground and stands up for her values and those around her. Dalyce helped to bring that energy and strength to me before I moved to Nashville and I’m so grateful for that. I’m so excited to see that connection with my fans and witnessing them connect with their best friends over the meaning of this song.

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Tags: Mandy McMillan, Dream Catcher

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Jovin Tardif
Jovin Tardif is a freelance writer, storyteller, interviewer, reviewer and conversation starter.