MacKenzie Porter is about to wrap her first ever headlining tour across Canada after notching another win at the CCMAs for Musical Collaboration of the Year, with Dallas Smith for their single “One Too”.
MacKenzie recently notched her sixth consecutive #1 single at Canadian country radio with “Chasing Tornadoes”. Her brand new single “Bet You Break My Heart” was released November 17th and is already gaining steam on streaming platforms.
MacKenzie is looking forward to the release of her album in early 2024, her first since signing a record deal with Big Loud Records.
MacKenzie also hosted “Country vs. Cancer” where her and industry friends, including Alana Springsteen, Walker Hayes, Nate Smith and more raised $85,000 for the American Cancer Society.
MacKenzie and I sat down for the Women In Country spotlight to cap off 2023.
5 Questions With MacKenzie Porter
1. You’ve been in Nashville for quite some time – how have you managed industry expectations as you’ve grown your career?
“Honestly, if I’m being truthful, there are times where it has overshadowed and I’ve fallen under what other people expect you to do or what everyone else is doing. Sometimes it works but at the end of the day, the only thing I can do is be myself and do what I think because that’s the only way I’ll break down barriers.”
“People see through that so fast and the industry here – they don’t know. They don’t know what’s going to happen next, nobody knows what the next social media is that’s going to pop up. They just know when it happens. You just have to do your own thing.”
“I’m still trying to figure it out. There are definitely sacrifices that I’ve made that my label or team has suggested, and I think ‘I don’t know, I don’t think that really feels like me’. A perfect example is, ‘do you want to do a TikTok dance for one of your songs?’ I’m like – that’s not me. Everyone was doing it at the time so of course you try it and it didn’t work because it’s not believable for me.”
“As I get older in life and as I’ve been in this industry longer, I’m learning to stick to my guns a little more and say no more. There are times you’re going to have to make sacrifices too because it may lead to something else that’s great. It’s in any industry and any job and any relationship.”
Something that definitely comes with time, you have to try things that don’t work, listen to people, and learn more.
2. You’re an artist and songwriter, but also an actor – it’s easy to say you balance a busy schedule. Where does personal time and mental health intersect with your busy life?
“There are definitely times where I have not created space. Last summer was so intense that even my husband was like ‘dude, you need to take some time off’ because I was stressing him out. There was so much going on.”
“Making plans with my friends, I only get to see them once a month, that time is so important. I just went to Japan with my family. It was stressful trying to be like ‘hey I’m going to take off 12 days’ and I hadn’t done that all year. I’ll never regret going on a trip with my family. Those moments are so special. And if you don’t live, you have nothing to write about.”
“It is a hard balance. Right now I have two and a half weeks at home, I’m going to soak it all up. Life goes in seasons for what I do. These next three months, I’m putting my head down and it’s going to be a grind, but then I get three weeks at home. My husband, family and friends understand. I’m lucky to have people to help me through it. People are helping me at all times.”
3. You’re heading out on your first headlining tour (eeep, congrats!!). What are some of your biggest lessons you’ve learned on the road over the years that have prepared you for this upcoming tour?
“I’m just excited to have this moment. We’ve been talking about headlining dates for so long and it feels like the right time now.”
“I just want to put on a really good show and for the rooms to feel energetic and full. I’m a regular person with insecurities – ‘is anybody gonna show up, does anyone care’, you know. It’s a natural feeling, no matter how big. I’m always going to be hoping that people like it. When you really care about something, there’s more on the line.”
“A big thing is keeping your band and your crew and opener happy. Energy always flows from the top down. If I were in a bad mood every day or bringing bad vibes, everyone’s going to have an unenjoyable experience and then your show isn’t as good. Keeping a healthy backstage environment and backstage travel days is so important.”
“I’ve been on tours before where I’m on the road for a month and never even talk to the headliner, and that happens all the time. I don’t want that environment. I want my opener to feel totally part of it and I want to be friends with everybody. Creating that world when everyone’s away from their families and making a sacrifice for your show; I want them to feel good about it.”
4. Six consecutive #1 singles at Canadian country radio – and you’re the first woman to notch six #1s (huge congratulations). What’s your relationship with the industry and the inequity women have experienced?
“I think it is known in this industry that women need to work a lot harder than men. I think Reba said, ‘A woman has to work ten times harder than a man to get the same thing.’ That’s probably in every industry and it’s such a bummer.”
“At the same time, instead of me complaining about it or bitching about it, I’ll just work that much harder because I’m a badass and I can. I try to stay positive about it. There are times where I feel disappointed, you know. Like there are times when ‘this person’s getting paid more than me’ and if the tables were turned, they’d say something.”
“I’ve had to have those moments where I’ve said ‘I’m not going to do that because I need to be treated equally. It’s hard because I never want to turn down an opportunity or seem difficult. But at the same time, I do feel like I’m trying to pave a path for women behind me, in the same place as me, in front of me, wherever they are, to be like no. We deserve the same thing. It’s a balance. I don’t like to complain about it too much, there are just times where I’m not going to do something because I want to be treated equally, compensated equally or billed equally. Sometimes my team will be like ‘really?’, but if no one does it then nothing changes.”
5. You’re preparing for your next album’s release. Looking back on the young girl who was releasing “Never Gonna Let You” and “Rodeo”, what’s something you wish you’d known then that you know now?
“I wish she would have known – mayne just more patience. This road is never going to be straight. There are lots of curves, and dips and peaks. Don’t get so worked up about these little valleys you go through. At the time they feel scary and like ‘Oh my god, my career’s over’, and once you pull back and look at the overall road, you’re climbing, it’s just not straight.”
“Even now, I think am I going to be concerned about this in five days, five months, five years? No, probably not. So I’m going to let it just roll off my back right now. Otherwise, this industry, there’s so much I think I would get really mentally down or exhausted by. When I was younger I really focused on the little things and I just didn’t have the experience.”
“Every day you’re adding a brick to the stack. That’s what my career’s been like. Some people get faster opportunities and others have slower roads. You have to keep putting one foot in front of the other and not look around at what everybody else is doing. That can also be a thief of your happiness.”
BONUS: “Chasing Tornadoes” is the first single you’ve released that you’ve not had a hand in writing. Lots of artists experience an obstacle in overcoming the “I only release my own songs” piece. What are your thoughts around this?
“I do think that there is a stigma that, ‘oh if you didn’t write it, how do you connect to it’ which is a fear of mine, but at the same time, if you go back in the history of country music, there are so many songs that people didn’t write. The biggest record right now, Morgan Wallen, there are so many songs he didn’t write on there.”
“I don’t think it makes you less of an artist. Sometimes when you’re busier, you’re touring, you have friends who do this every day and are professional songwriters and they have a song that’s just amazing. Why would you not cut that song?”
“I loved the tempo of it (Chasing Tornadoes), how it sonically played out, it was something I wouldn’t naturally write, so I just loved that. I also loved that it was a bit edgier. I write a lot of love songs and heartbreak songs and this was a bit more feisty.”
About MacKenzie Porter
Canada-born and Nashville-based MacKenzie Porter’s sound knows no borders. Making an introductory statement with her critically acclaimed, chart-dominating, six-week U.S. No. 1 Dustin Lynch duet “Thinking ‘Bout You,” Porter returns now, with her latest single “Bet You Break My Heart” from her upcoming album. Making her mark with standout hits like “Pickup,” which earned her a 2023 CMT Music Awards nomination for Breakthrough Female Video of the Year, and best-known head-bobber “These Days,” her “mesmerizing vocals and hook-driven songs” continue to spark headline-worthy moments and accolades.
Standing alone as the only female in her category nominated for Favorite Country Song at the 2022 American Music Awards, the 2022 MusicRow Discovery Artist of the Year has additionally earned 22 CCMA nominations, including a nod for Entertainer of the Year, and most recently won Musical Collaboration of the Year at the 2023 CCMA awards with her duet “One Too” with Dallas Smith.
The first female this century to have six number one songs at Canadian country radio, her latest chart topper “Chasing Tornadoes” was written by CMA Entertainer of the Year, Lainey Wilson.
After touring the globe opening for Blake Shelton, Kenny Chesney, Walker Hayes, Jordan Davis, Brad Paisley, Dallas Smith, and Rascal Flatts, Porter just wrapped her own debut Canadian headline tour.
With an album on the 2024 horizon and a new addition to her family on the way (congratulations to MacKenzie and her husband), MacKenzie Porter continues to lead the charge for women in Canadian country music.
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Country music lover with an unhealthy collection of concert t-shirts. Always looking for up and coming artists. Believer in music's ability to soothe the soul. Connect with me on Instagram and Twitter.