They say you can’t start a fire without a spark.
But for Windsor’s own Kelsi Mayne, it didn’t take long for that spark to bloom into a full-on inferno.
On March 27, the singer/songwriter released her much-anticipated debut album, As I Go, to thunderous applause.
Not that the former sprint-hurdler (once ranked third in Canada) hasn’t already experienced her fair share.
Packed with 11 songs, the collection has been a labour of love for the rising country star, whose writing credit is found on all but one track, as well as alongside some major players including Jason Blaine, Patricia Conroy, and Emma-Lee.
Some of those sessions were nothing short of “pinch-me” moments.
“Getting to write with Patricia had a combination between starstruck and girl-crush going on,” Kelsi said with a laugh, adding the pair have gotten to work on two songs together, so far. It was their second collaboration, alongside record producer, mixer and songwriter Douglas Romanow titled Nothing On Us that found its way onto As I Go. “It’s based on my track experience. So, we were really able to draw from that.”
Finding that creative inspiration in her own life is nothing new for the singer, whose offerings, including 2018’s Your Jolene, have continued to come from a very personal place. In the case of co-writing, it also helps to have that instant connection.
“Like most songwriters, you’re always a little bit more biased with your own ideas because you know the story behind it and how it came to fruition, but also when there’s that spark in the room where you can just see how people will be able to relate to what you all want to say, that’s really special.”
Kelsi’s inspiration can come from the most unlikely places, whether it’s simply taking a shower or hitting the road, relaxing at home in Canada or teaming up at a studio in Nashville.
No matter what, the wheels are always turning.
“I’m constantly looking for ideas and keeping track of anything that just sticks out to me,” she explained. “I’m always thinking of ways to twist meanings and common sayings. Inspiration is everywhere.”
In addition to being hands-on with the music, the video for the album’s title track As I Go (whose teaser garnered over 1.2M TikTok views in just 24 hours), also boasts a personal stamp, directed by her brother Corey, and produced by the musician herself.
It’s a combination that has been working for the pair for years.
“My brother has been in the film industry for pretty much his whole life. It’s what he knew he wanted to do at a very young age, so we’ve done films together forever,” said Kelsi. “When I have a music video, I just call him up. He’s the camera guy and the director, and we write the scripts and go over the storyline. It’s really fun to collaborate.”
In addition to starring in her brother’s first film when she was just a toddler, Kelsi really caught the bug to perform Highland Dancing at just 6-years-old.
Clearly, even then the budding entertainer had more than one trick up her sleeve.
“The dance circuit, that’s what got me hooked. That’s where I fell in love with the stage,” she explained. “Then it just continued on to music.”
Soon enough Kelsi moved on to singing and dancing around the house, impersonating some of her favourites. Growing up just across the river from Detroit meant for a pretty eclectic musical upbringing.
“A lot of it came from Detroit radio because, at the time, there weren’t a lot of Windsor stations. So we listened to whatever had the strongest signal,” she recalled with a laugh, adding there was also a bit of The Beatles, Stevie Wonder, and Aretha Franklin, thanks to her parents’ influence. “Add to that country music and rap and R&B, with some Scottish music for Highland dancing rounding it all out. But when it came to really singing, I’ve always gravitated towards country.”
A part-time gig as a featured vocalist at Windsor’s Bull & Barrell throughout University kept fanning the flame until Kelsi worked her way into the limelight as a professional performer, hitting the main stage at some of Canada’s most celebrated music festivals, from Havelock Jamboree, to Boots & Hearts, to the Big Valley Jamboree, sharing the spotlight with the likes Florida Georgia Line, Blake Shelton, Dean Brody, and Russel Dickerson.
And the hits just keep on coming.
In addition to receiving a nomination in the Rising Star category for this year’s CMAOntario Awards, to be held in London, Ontario, Sunday, Oct. 4, Kelsi’s big screen debut as the lead in Willa, a Stephen King adaptation, continues to take the film festival world by storm.
It’s safe to say we can’t wait to see what this upcoming Queen of Country comes out with next.