March 09, 2011 - Country music singer Justine Blazer is heading to the Live Music Capital of the World, and her fans helped send her there.
|Blazer's ready to take her country music sound from downtown Clarkston to Austin, Texas. Photos by Phil Custodio (click for larger version)|
"I am so honored and blessed to have such wonderful fans who took the time to vote for me," said Blazer, who lives in Springfield Township. " I truly appreciated the support."
She entered her music video "New Country Beat" in the Dodge Ram Battle of the Bands music video contest a month ago "on a whim," she said.
For about a month, fans voted online once a day on hundreds of videos from around the country.
Voting ended Feb. 13, and her video landed in the Top 10, at number seven. Dodge then picked it as one of the Top 2 finalists, awarding Blazer and her band a trip to Austin, Texas, March 18-20.
"It was the most amazing news I had received in a long time," she said. "They are flying my entire band out there."
They perform on March 20 at Rodeo Austin for a crowd of about 25,000 people. Top prize is $5,000 and a chance to represent Dodge Ram in advertising and promotions. Runner-up wins $2,500.
"Austin will be a new experience," Blazer said. "I'm going to learn from it. I'm grateful for the opportunity."
The rodeo won't be the biggest crowd she's sung for. She sings the National Anthem at professional sporting events around the country. Kicking off a Buffalo Bills game a couple years ago, she sang before 75,000 cheering football fans.
"But this is an original song with my band," she said. "I'm a little nervous. It's different, more exciting."
She has worked with her band, singer-guitarist Kerry Adams, bassist Rick Jacoby, Mark Sutton on drums, John Lang on pedal steel, and Don Whyte on sax and keyboards, for about three years now.
"They're great," she said. "I've stuck with these guys for a while. They're really good, so experienced. They bring the project to a whole new level."
She grew up in Canton with her parents, Cindy and Tom Blazer, and sister, Genevieve Mason.
She has been singing since she was about 3 years old, nurtured by her parents, who enrolled her in singing classes and provided lots of encouragement.
She remembers going to summer concerts at Pine Knob Music Theater in Independence Township, now DTE Energy Music Theater.
"It would take an hour from Canton," she said. "Now, it's right here."
|Justine Blazer plays her guitar in the ClarkstonTV.com studios of The Clarkston News. (click for larger version)|
The family lived in Nashville, Tenn., for several years, where she recorded a three-song album at age 13.
"Country is my music of choice. I love it, it's so much fun," said Blazer, a fan of country artists Patsy Cline, Martina McBride, Faith Hill, and Reba McEntire, Judy Garland, and other strong female singers.
Pursuing her music career, she also lived in New York City, learned to play acoustic and electric guitar, and the harmonica, and traveled the country, performing with Lonestar, Terri Clark, Kathy Mattea, and Jason Aldean, Motown blues band The Miracles, and other artists.
She recorded "Just a Justine Christmas" in 2004, "Passion in Me" in 2005, "Red, White and Blue" in 2008, and "Welcome to My World" last year. She has been nominated for 15 Detroit Music Awards and won the Detroit Blues Challenge in 2007.
She moved to Springfield Township a year and a half ago from Ann Arbor.
"I wanted something comfortable and cozy," she said. "This is my home base, a great community. There's more of a small town feel here, and lots of lakes – there are no lakes in Canton."
She also enjoys the area's music scene, with DTE, Kid Rock, and its many live music venues.
"It's fun up here," she said. "It's different, a lot of people love country music and classic rock. There's definitely a lot of interest."
She and her band rehearse 1-2 times a week and perform 3-4 shows a week all over Michigan, as well as Ohio, Indiana, and other states. With writing new songs, recording albums, and publicity, it's a fulltime gig.
"It's been pretty consistent," she said. "We're releasing new singles and working with a new manager in Florida to open up opportunities to get up to the national level. So far, I've been very fortunate."
Local venues include Pine Knob Ski Resort, Buck Shots, Mesquite Creek, and Sportsmen's Great Northern Grill, 5864 Dixie Highway, where she will perform, 6 p.m., Thursday, March 10.
For more information, check www.justineblazer.com. She is also featured in this week's Phil in the Blank web show, where she sings her song "Lost and Found," at ClarkstonTV.com..
The Clarkston News features local singers, players, and performers in print and online, filmed in our very own studio for ClarkstonTV.com! Call us at 248-625-3370
Phil is editor for The Clarkston News. He is a veteran of the first Iraq war, having served in the U.S. Army.