9 minute read


Ottawa country singer celebrates a summer of new music.

Brea Lawrenson is an Ottawaborn Country artist who has been creating and sharing music since she was 13. In her teen years, Brea was a pop artist who dominated regional singing competitions in classical and broadway styles. At 21, she switched her genre to Country, and never looked back. Today, she is an award-winning country singer and songwriter who records all of her music in Nashville. When she’s in Ottawa, the self-titled homebody enjoys connecting with her fan base on social media, and hosts her own Podcast called ‘The Distillery’, where she shares stories from her time performing, writing and recording all over the world. Her audience reaches The Netherlands and Brazil, Canada and America. This summer, Brea will celebrate a career milestone and one of her wildest dreams–she’s scheduled to share the stage as an opener for Shania Twain at Ottawa Bluesfest. We caught up with Lawrenson to discuss her new Nashville-inspired music, life as a new mom, and how she is preparing for a ‘full-circle’ moment as a Bluesfest artist this summer.

Shania has inspired me to be a brave woman in the music industry. To be relentless and hard working. I am so excited to bring my show to her crowd in my home city.

When did you know that you wanted to pursue a career in country music? Who in your family supported you and inspired you to do so?

I grew up on 90’s country because my dad loved country music. And he always wanted me to sing Country. My mom loved Classic Rock and so did I but I wanted to be more of a ‘POP’ Artist than anything. I recorded my first album at 15 and it was POP and I did go on to record a few more Pop demos and albums during my teens. But it was when I was about 21 that I decided country music was the focus and then I rebranded and recorded an album with Keith Glass

(Guitarist of ‘Prairie Oyster’) called ‘Somewhere To Go’ and it’s on my Spotify, Youtube Channel and is available for streaming everywhere. Through out my whole life, my mom has been my support system and has acted as my manager for all these years. We work so well together and she’s the back bone of my career, a voice of reason when I feel like quitting. I owe how far I’ve come and all I’ve learned to her. You recently released Neon Nashville, what’s the inspiration behind this song?

‘Neon Nashville’ is a dreamer’s song. It’s about the nature of being a struggling artist in Nashville. It’s about chasing a dream and getting all the way up the hill and realizing that maybe it’s not what it seems or it’s not as glorious as you thought it would be. Going to Nashville so regularly, I have had a front row seat to how hard artists have to work in Nashville for just tips in a Pickle Jar. Being in that kind of atmosphere has inspired me but also taught me a lot.

This summer, you’re scheduled to play at Ottawa Bluesfest, on the same stage as Shania Twain. You’ve described this as a fullcircle moment, and a dream come true. What does this achievement mean to you?

Being given the opportunity to perform on Shania Twain’s stage means everything to me. It is a full circle moment for me, meaning, I dreamt about this moment a thousand times and saw it in my head play out, singing my songs for a crowd of fans that have supported a woman like Shania throughout the years of her global stardom. Shania has inspired me to be a brave woman in the music industry. To be relentless and hard working. I am so excited to bring my show to her crowd in my home city. You are very active on social media, candid, engaging and funny… why is it important to you to be so authentic on social media, and to connect with people in

I have always had fun with my social media and I try hard to be engaging and authentic because it’s the fastest way to connect with my audience. I have fans who have become my close friends on TIKTOK and my community is so supportive and real. It’s really amazing how social media has connected me with people from all over the world. All the way to Australia and The UK and North America. What amazing exposure for an Indie Artist like me. You can follow me everywhere through my website brealawrenson.com and be sure to join me on Patreon for exclusive content including the stripped down versions of my new music that I am recording in Nashville in the next coming weeks!

What’s your favourite thing about Ottawa?

My absolute favourite thing about Ottawa is.. The Market downtown in the summer time. I love the patios and the vibe on Preston Street in and Roberto’s. I love the Live Music Venues like The Royal Oak’s which is where I started playing bars. And the beautiful parks and walking trails like Andrew Hayden Park which is where I played on my first Ampa Theatre that faces the water. Incredible.

What’s your favourite restaurant to go to in Ottawa?

I have so many favorite places I love to eat in Ottawa but I’d have to say my all time favorite restaurant is, Giovanni’s on Preston. Best Cream Chicken and King Crab and Gnocchi! I love the Vibe, I love the food, I love the Wine. I love Italian food. What’s your best advice for aspiring country artists?

I’d like to tell any aspiring Country Artists that there are a lot of sharks out there in the industry and if anyone asks you for money to be on a record label or to have a development deal, don’t give them your money. That’s a shark. If you have to do it all on your own, so be

The Paperboys

The Paperboys (Darwin Demers, Kevin Little, Scott Milks and Charles McInnis) are known for their powerful vocal delivery in a varied repertoire of classic and newer rock tunes. Appearing regularly in establishments, corporate and private bookings in and around Ottawa, the band has also recorded and performed with Alanis Morrisette, The Cooper Brothers and Eight Seconds.


Sticks ‘n Stones

The Sticks ‘n Stones Band have been performing to sold out audiences around Eastern Ontario, Canada region for over 25 years, as well as other regions of Canada and international venues. The band consists of 5 males and 2 females, and offer a range of tunes (70s, 80s, 90s, 2000s) catering to any crowd. They’ve opened twice for Canadian hall of famer Tom Cochrane, Nazareth, Trooper, Stampeders, Chilliwack and last year Kim Mitchell, country sensations Tim and the Glory Boys and Tebey. They also had the honour of performing for the Governor of Canada and the JTF2 Military branch at the Canadian War Museum. On July 15th, they will be hosting a large fundraising event on the Rideau River in Kars.


New Vintage

New Vintage (Angele Desbois, Tony Vrhovnik, Michael Gauthier, Lucien Picard, Sacha Nagy) is a high energy cover band that takes you on a nostalgic journey with old and modern hits. The band delivers an extensive repertoire spanning many decades and various genres, and are a top choice for any event seeking a nostalgic and engaging musical experience.


Otis Strange

Otis Strange (Dave MacLachlan (Mug) Jonny Olsen (Jonny O) Nelson Hursti (Nelly) and Dave Matsukubo (Kubo)) is an original Canadian Rock band that formed in 1992 in Ottawa. The name derives from a line in Shakespeare’s Hamlet “O’tis strange the night…” The band’s present-day style is an eclectic funky acoustic vibe with a percussive twist, which they define as ‘Urban Roots Rock’.

The Chesterfields

Though this dad-rock dance band officially kicked off as a “party band” in October 2019, their origins can be traced back to Cornwall, Ontario, in 1997. The Chesterfields pride themselves in exceptional musicianship, vocals that can make your heart skip a beat, and a song selection that’s like a musical time machine, spanning five glorious decades. Weddings, galas, corporate shindigs, private parties—name it, they’ve got it covered.

Big Love

Big Love (Rebecca Noelle, Rob Patterson, Michael Goyette, Jeff Steel, Matt Babineau, Brent Hultquist) brings some really big love to the stage with their wildly energetic performance that pays tribute to the music of Fleetwood Mac. The band does not aim to clone Fleetwood Mac, rather, they dive into the repertoire with precision and explore the essence of what Fleetwood Mac brought to the stage. Big Love takes you to the show that you would expect to experience in Fleetwood Mac’s early years with soaring vocals expertly folded into harmonies and dancing over grooves and melodies that have stayed the test of time.


The Retrogrades

Formed in 2014 as an excuse to get out of jury duty, The Retrogrades (Mary Gellner, Jon Coote, Dave Milliken, Brady Mofatt) began playing clubs and private events in the Ottawa area, covering your favourite bands of the 80’s and 90’s such as Duran Duran, The Cars, Cyndi Lauper, Blondie, Green Day and Weezer.

The Vanduras

The Vandura’s (Jayla Kirkey, Alex Mastronardi, Alex MacFarlane, Scott Reeves, Mitch Mainville) is a 5 piece cover band from Ottawa that performs regularly at Heart & Crown locations as well corporate events and weddings. The band covers a wide range of genres, from classic rock to pop to country to funk to contemporary, and are known for their energetic stage presence and entertaining live show. All the members are full time musicians and play in several musical outfits in the city, and truly love what they do.

Disco Inferno

Formed almost 25 years ago, Ottawa’s Disco Inferno Band Canada is composed of ten highly seasoned musicians who capture the undeniable and contagious sound and rhythm of the 70’s disco era.


The Start

The Start (Graeme Weeks, Marianne Dumas, Martin Newman, Nathan Hoedeman, David Little) was formed in 2009 to get people dancing and singing. Playing the classics across all genres and decades, mixed and mashed up into perfect, smooth medleys, the setlists are given a fresh sound that keeps you guessing, and keeps you on the dance floor. As founder Graeme says, “If you’re going to be a cover band, be an original cover band!”. Image credit: Cailie & Shannon Clement


Now rocking the capital for 10 years, Sussex is a go-to band in the nation’s capital for amazing vocals, skillful guitar playing, and popular tunes. Their performances are so captivating that they’ll send shivers down your spine. Sussex has graced some of Ottawa’s largest stages, including the Grey Cup in 2017 and TD Place, where they’ve rocked out to the biggest hits from renowned artists like Journey, Fleetwood Mac, Queen, and many more. Be sure to catch Sussex Sept 1st supporting Canadian Icons BIG SUGAR at the Shawville Fair!


UNO (Androcles, Greg Szepietowski, Rafael de Los Reyes, Israel Martinez, Juan-Luis Vasquez Ceron, Andrew Ferderber, James Arif, Szymon A. Szańczuk) started back in April 2016 when Androcles (Andro), a singer from Venezuela, decided to make Ottawa his new home. UNO blends the fiery energy of salsa with wicked chords and crazy distorted guitar solos, and they even throw in some classic rock feels while focusing mainly on Latin music. And get this, they can go from something as simple as maracas or bongos all the way to the intricate sounds of pure jazz or disco. The band hosts UNO Rock en Español, a special concert series, a few times a year, and it’s been a game-changer for Latin music in two provinces since it started in 2017.


The Keystrings

This Ottawa-based five-piece rock band takes you on a musical wave, traversing the realms of the 70s, 80s, Nineties, and Now. They know the musical rules but are bent on busting them to create an unforgettable live music experience. Jill (Keys) blends vocal harmonies with her musical soulmate Dan (strings) while Jeff (drums) and real-life brothers Gene (bass guitar) and Todd (lead guitar) provide a rock-solid backbone. It’s a true family affair!”

The Young Bucks

Getting their start playing small local bars around The Ottawa Valley, The Young Bucks (Randy Frobel, Rory Mayhew, Tim Anderson, Corey Sullivan) have grown into an indemand band in the Ottawa area and abroad. Their high energy, do-it-yourself approach to Rock and Country music gives them a unique sound most bands spend decades developing. In 2022 the band was contracted to open for Canadian country music star Jade Eagleson and multiple CCMA nominee Aaron Goodvin, along with a string of performances on the local fair circuit. The band can be spotted at venues like the Heart & Crown pubs, The Pour House and Aulde Dubliner, D’arcy McGee’s Sparks, and at festivals like Ladysmith Oktoberfest.