Hot Artists to Watch in 2016: High Valley [No. 8]
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Brad and Curtis Rempel both look like they could take any leading role in Hollywood, but the pair couldn’t be more grounded in rural life values. High Valley — No. 8 on our list of Hot Artists to Watch in 2016 — are a country duo from Canada that now Nashville home. Their recent partnership with Warner Music Nashville was 15 years in the making.
As a trio, High Valley first traveled from their family farm La Crete, Alberta to Music City to record in 2001. The group formed before they were teenagers and, like so many up-and-coming musicians, they got their start at church, community events and local music venues. It was baby steps all the way to 2010, when their self-titled album began to make waves on Canadian radio.
Taste of Country took notice two years later, praising “Love You for a Long Time” for its tight harmonies and bluegrass influenced pop-country sound, while pointing out that one doesn’t usually find such a professional recording on a debut album. While the single was the then-trio’s American debut, it was just their next single in Canada. It touched off a nice run on Canadian radio, which includes an active streak of five straight Top 10 singles.
American audiences tend not to be impressed by success at the Juno Awards (the Canadian Grammys) and the Canadian Country Music Association Awards (CCMAs). They’ve had some, and we’ll leave it at that. High Valley became a go-to when America’s biggest stars needed a reliable opener north of the border.
An impressive following on social media (87K followers on Facebook, 75K on Twitter) will give them a boost when their Atlantic Records (part of WMN) debut is released. Fans can find plenty online to snack on before then. “Make You Mine” (featuring Ricky Skaggs) recalls Mumford and Sons, while others on their YouTube page are more mainstream. This duo could easily turn hard down a soulful, organic road Chris Stapleton’s CMA success cleared in November.
Fans and this band may argue otherwise, but High Valley are better as a duo if only because duos are more accessible than trios. This is the age of social media, when personality matters almost as much as the music, and getting to know three people is more difficult than two. Bryan Rempel left in 2014 to focus on family, and the rebooted High Valley hasn’t slowed down. In fact, they’re poised to enjoy their most successful year yet — a year they’ve been working toward since before Brad’s chin was Hollywood chiseled and Curtis could grow a full scruff.
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