Just released his 10th album, Give It Away, this fall and is now hosting a seven-part TV documentary airing on CMT Canada called Paul Brandt’s Build it Forward that chronicles seven Calgary-area families at risk of homelessness and their work to build houses with Habitat for Humanity.
A ranch just west of Calgary, AB, near Cochrane.
A former registered nurse, Brandt launched his recording career in 1996 with the single “My Heart Has a History” while living in Nashville, TN. He started his own record company in 2001, and in 2005, moved to Calgary and re-launched it as Brand-T Records Canada Ltd. Since then, he has lent his name to the Alberta Children’s Hospital fundraising radiothon and has travelled across the globe in support of charities including Habitat for Humanity, Samaritan’s Purse and World Vision. His newest initiative is a registered charitable organization called the Priceless Gift of Hope Foundation.
Interview with Paul Brandt
Days spent on the road
I spend most of my time doing business between Calgary, Toronto and Nashville. For Toronto, it’s often quick trips. It’s go, go, go while you’re there. And Nashville has a whole other pace to it. Music Row, the Loveless Cafe—these are the kinds of places where record deals are scribbled on the back of napkins. And Alberta, well, it’s home, and it always surprises me. There’s so much to see and do here—in fact, I just went to Lake Louise for the first time! That’s like living in Nashville and not going to the Grand Ole Opry—it’s easy to take the beauty of this place for granted.
Where are your favourite places to travel?
I’d probably have to say Vancouver; it’s such a great city. Last time I was there, the Canucks were in the playoffs. I walked out of the Fairmont Pacific Rim and some of the hockey players came off the elevator and whispered to each other, "That’s Paul Brandt." Then I walked out of the hotel and crowds of people were waiting for the team, and nobody even noticed me; it was great!
Where would you like to vacation?
I’ve been to the British Virgin Islands twice.Virgin Gorda, I love it there. And I’d love to tour Australia; I know we have a lot of great fans there.
Free time between meetings and performing
Running is a great way to explore the city; my wife and I love to do that. I ran the BMO Okanagan Marathon in October two years ago and did it as anonymously as possible; I had my name taken off my bib. [He grins; yes, his fans found him anyway.] But I also really enjoy the times when I run into people and just get to talk and to ask them about themselves.
Favourite Alberta destination to get lost in?
I like to fly-fish on the eastern slopes of the Rockies in southern Alberta; it’s so rugged and wild. There aren’t a lot of places like that, anywhere.
Look for an opportunity to leave something on the table, to give something of yourself. I think, in a way, that’s what Alberta is all about. It’s always been a place of opportunity, a place of new beginnings. We play hard, we work hard, but we also don’t forget about people who are struggling to make it.
Interview with Big Elvis
Packing tips from CMT's Elissa Lansdell