Alberta-bred singer Paul Brandt is the most awarded male Canadian country music artist in history! This July he will return to where he launched his career 20 years ago to headline the #Stampede100 Grandstand Show. I was lucky enough to catch up with a busy Mr. Brandt for some Q and A. Read below to find out what his favorite Midway food is and advice for young artists following their dream.

This year you’ve had the opportunity to be involved with some great projects close to your Alberta roots including the 2012 World Junior Championship and now the Calgary Stampede Centennial Grandstand Show. How does it feel to be a part of the Calgary Stampede in its Centennial year?  

While these projects are close to my Alberta roots, and that’s important to me, the World Juniors and the Calgary Stampede Centennial feel like they have even more reach than typical regional events. As Canada’s Cultural Capital for 2012, Calgary is recognized for its excellence in producing events with size, scope and significance, attracting a global audience.  As an Albertan, I’m thrilled to be associated with, and proud to see, our dedication to quality, creativity, and hard work paying off on these international stages.

As a former contestant of the “Youth Talent Showdown” at the Calgary Stampede what advice to you have for young artists following their dream?

I’m asked that question a lot.  All I can give advice about is what has and hasn’t worked for me. What definitely has worked is to dream big, and to chase my dream of music and art because it’s what I love to do.  What has never worked for me is spending a lot of time worrying about what people think or say about what I’m doing.  Music has to come from a pure place of inspiration and passion to have any lasting significance.  I think the same can be said about most endeavours.

What is your favorite song you have written and why?

It’s hard to pick a favourite…that’s like asking me to pick one of my kids as a favourite over another… you love them all equally and for different reasons.  That being said, there’s something special about my first #1 song, “I Do”.   I had written the song for a friend whom I had worked with at the Alberta Children’s Hospital and was getting married.  She had asked me to come and sing at her wedding, which I did, and then I kind of forgot about the song.  It wasn’t until I had signed a record deal with Warner/Reprise Records in Nashville that the song re-surfaced as one that grabbed people’s attention.  It went to #1 in the US on October 11th, 1996.

The Calgary Stampede is about tradition; do you have a favorite Stampede tradition or memory to share with us?

I think that the Stampede is a very similar experience for most families.  For us, it’s about the parade, looking at the exhibits, walking through the Dream Home, catching a concert, eating corn dogs, watching the chucks and rodeo, riding rides and seeing the fireworks.  Of course, these things are complicated when you have a career like mine, and you’re playing stages at the Stampede, or shooting documentaries on the grounds from time to time, but you’d be surprised at how well I can blend in…

What is your favorite midway food at the Calgary Stampede?

Gotta go with the corn dogs. With mustard.

What is your favorite midway ride and/or midway game at the Calgary Stampede?

Couldn’t pick just one, have to ride/play them all.

What can fans expect to see from you and the Young Canadians this year at the Grandstand Show?

There is definitely an element of risk in this show that I’ve never experienced on stage before. The elaborate stage set-up, rigging, even the interaction between acts from scene to scene are all new for me, but I’m very excited about it.  Everyone involved with the show has a handle on the importance of this year’s Grandstand show.  The intensity and excitement is palpable.

There is a sense among everyone involved that a show like this only happens once in a hundred years, and I think that is going to make it an unforgettable celebration of everything that the Stampede stands for.  Specifically, I’ll not only have my hand in performing some of my original music, but I’ll weave in and out of the story throughout the night, eventually bringing the evening to the grand finale fireworks display.  The scope of this year’s finale has never been seen.  Ever.  It’s going to be spectacular.  Our goal is to form a show that represents the Western Heritage and values of the Calgary Stampede in a way that does Calgary, Alberta, and Canada proud, and entertains audiences from around the world.