Boots And Hearts 2018 Preview: A 4 Day Can’t-Miss Country Music Festival

Boots and Hearts

The Boots and Hearts Music Festival is a multi-day country music and camping festival produced by Republic Live Inc. Held annually at the custom-designed festival grounds, Burl’s Creek Event Grounds in Oro-Medonte, Ontario, since its inception in 2012 Boots and Hearts has quickly grown to become Canada’s largest country music festival and is considered to be the second largest music festival in North America behind only the CMA Music Festival.

Offering multiple stages, meet and greets, VIP offerings, an on-site farmers market and more to 45,000+ festival-goers over the course of 4 days, Boots and Hearts was awarded the CCMA (Canadian Country Music Association) “Festival of the Year” Award in 2014, 2015 and 2016, as well as the Canadian Music Week “Festival of the Year” in 2015, with repeat nominations in 2016 and 2017. This year, the event will have another star-studded lineup including Florida Georgia Line, Alan Jackson and Thomas Rhett to name but a few when it takes place from August 9-12.

Not only does Boots and Hearts showcase the best Country talent worldwide, but it also attempts to show off the local Canadian country talent as well. One area in particular that the festival is focusing on this year is the strong female artists that Canada has to offer. In fact, we interviewed three of them down below:Madeline Merlo, Genevieve Fisher and Kira Isabella.

Before we get to that, though, we’re pleased to announce that Republic Live has offered us two GA passes for the full weekend at Boots and Hearts this year to give to some lucky winners! To enter, simply email info [at] with your name and the artist you’re most excited about seeing at the fest. A winner will be chosen on July 13th and notified via email.

Good luck!

Madeline Merlo


Q: Tell us a little bit about your background growing up and your musical style.

A: I grew up in a little town just outside of Vancouver, BC and grew up in a house filled with music. My father was a funk musician and my mother was a country music lover. You can hear both those influences in my music and it’s given me my own unique style. I am a lover of all types of music!

Q: What did the success of ‘Free Soul’ mean to you and how has it changed your life since?

A: I had dreamt about releasing an album my entire life and to have it so well received really meant a lot to me. Free Soul had 6 singles off it which all made it up the radio charts. The expression “free soul” comes from a poem I love that says “Art is the journey of a free soul.” It was a journey creating it and I felt like I had become an artist after it was completed.

Q: Is there a large country music presence in Western Canada? Who inspired you to follow this path?

A: Country music is everywhere and I felt it in Maple Ridge (where I grew up.) My first concert was Shania Twain and that really was a huge moment in my life. She inspired me so much and gave wings of possibility to my dreams. My home station JRFM was a huge influence on my love of Country as well. They were also the first station in Canada to play my music which meant the world to me.

Q: What did it mean to you to play at Boots and Hearts for the first time?

A: Boots and Hearts was one of my favourite shows of all time. Boots has become so iconic for country fans and performers everywhere. They run a brilliant festival and it was such an epic weekend for me the first time around.

Q: What is your favourite part of the Boots and Hearts weekend?

A: 5) I love Boots fans first off. They look forward to this weekend all year and give off the most incredible love and energy. The backstage area of Boots is also so awesome because they created this amazing community area with a BBQ, bar and seating. All the artists spent majority of time in this area together instead of in their private dressing rooms.

Q: Coming back to Boots and Hearts for another year, what does it mean to you to have this opportunity to represent female Canadian country music?

A: To have the opportunity to come back and play is so special to me. I can’t wait to play some new music and give people a great show. It’s always an honour to represent Canadian Females in Country because so many greats have come before me.

Q: What impact are you hoping to have on the Canadian Country music landscape moving forward?

A: I am always trying to make an impact on the music industry and create something special and unique. I’ve never been an artist, or person, who was afraid of pushing boundaries or dancing to the beat of my own drum. I am hoping to do that with my new music coming out soon and continue to follow my heart which always leads to me to the most creative places.

Q: How did you choose ‘Motel Flamingo’ to be your first single since the ‘Free Soul’ album?

A: I chose Motel Flamingo to be the first song after the record because it felt, both lyrically and sonically, really exciting to me. It made me laugh and want to dance and I was hoping people would feel the same way. It was left of centre and not about love or a romantic relationship but instead about a tacky motel. Creating music is supposed to be fun and my songs like War Paint, Over & Over etc. have let my fans in on the deeper parts of me so I wanted to show them a fun side.

Q: What do you do to unwind and relax when you need to get away from performing and writing?

A:  When I am not making music, which is usually every day, I love to hike and be outside. I love heading into the woods to explore and go fishing. I love yoga, running and spending time with family, friends and my dog! I live in Nashville so pretty much everything I do involves music in some way. I write during the week and check out bands on the weekends. Music is everything to me and it’s an honour to be able to do it.

Genevieve Fisher

Q: Before we dive in, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself for people who may not know you or your music.

A: I grew up in London, Ontario and fell in love with country music at a very young age! I entered my first competition at the age of 2 where I sang “You Are My Sunshine” and the rest is history!

Q: When did you really get in to music and when did you know that is was going to be the path you took your career on?

A: I really started getting into music at age 12. Competitions were a huge part of my life until the age of 15. When I was 16, I knew that I wanted to pursue music professionally; that is when I put a band together and started reaching out to different festivals and events!

Q: Who were your role models growing up?

A: I have always been a huge fan of Shania Twain and Patsy Cline; but truthfully Shania Twain was a huge influence on me! I loved her voice and image – I really looked up to her.

Q: Where do you draw your inspiration from when writing new songs and albums?

A: I draw inspiration from various places, but I usually begin with myself. I want people to have a personal connection to my songs and often find that people can relate to similar things that are going on in my life. I also draw inspiration from those around me – I’m in my 20’s, so I often want to write songs about having a good time because hey, that’s what your 20’s are all about! BUT, I do also love to write songs that really tug at your heartstrings; I think that “old country” still has a huge impact on my music – so I still feel this urge to write music that is truly meaningful.

Q: What impact did ‘Take it on Home’ have on you when you heard it on the radio for the first time?

A: Oh goodness…hearing ‘Take It On Home’ for the first time was unbelievable! I actually think I squealed! Hearing my songs on the radio never gets old!

Q: What does it mean to you to be able to play at Boots and Hearts and represent female Canadian Country Music?

A: Being able to play Boots and Hearts again means so much to me! My love for this festival runs deep. The vibe of it is amazing and the energy from the audience is contagious – I cannot wait for it! Being able to represent female Canadian Country Music is even better. It’s been hard for us these past few years and continues to be hard – so to be able to be at this festival and represent the girls is awesome!

Q: Where do you see the Canadian Country Music Landscape heading over the next few years?

A: I honestly see it expanding more and more into cities. Country music is connecting with people.

Q: If you weren’t a musician, what other profession could you see yourself being?

A: I would love to be an interior designer. It’s my other way of being creative/artistic. I would also love to create music programs for Indigenous communities in Canada. For those of you who don’t know, I am Indigenous! I am Ojibway and from Chippewas of the Thames First Nation. My Indigenous community means the world to me and I know how much they can connect with my music.

Q: What do you do to unwind and relax when you need to get away from performing and writing?

A: I have a dog named Lyla and she’s the sweetest little Basset Hound; my husband and I love taking her for walks in a conservation area close to our home – it’s great to get out and unwind. I also love working out with my trainer Scott – it’s a great way to de-stress and stay active both physically and mentally! And of course, I love the odd glass of wine 😉 – so you can often find me sipping a nice glass of red on my deck!

Kira Isabella


Q: Give us a brief background on your musical upbringing/style.

A: My parents are both music enthusiasts. They constantly had music playing & always made sure to take me to concerts when I was growing up. They drove me to every singing competition I could find online, and have never missed one of my shows. They’ve truly always made it possible for me to solely focus on music, and I think that is a huge part of the reason why I’ve gotten to accomplish the things that I have.

Q: What did it mean to you to be able to open for Carrie Underwood on her Blown Away tour? What did you learn from that experience?

A: I learned so much when I was touring with Carrie Underwood. She’s such an incredible vocalist and performer. She also treated my team and I with so much kindness and respect. I would say she taught me how to treat people, and is a great example of how much hard work it takes to be successful in this industry

Q: Can you describe the feeling you felt when you signed with Sony at 16 and how you saw your career progressing from that point on?

A: The only way to describe it is that it was literally a dream come true. Sony was my family for such a long time, and they helped me get my music out to the world.

Q: What did it mean to you to play at Boots and Hearts for the first time?

A: I got to be the very first person ever to step on the stage at Boots and Hearts. I can’t tell you how much that means to me, especially watching how much the festival has grown. I was nervous but excited, it was one of the first major festivals that I ever got to play. It was a huge part of the beginning of a new chapter for me.

Q:  What are your favourite moments and memories from the Boots and Hearts weekend?

A: My favourite memories from Boots and Hearts weekend are always involving fans.  The Boots and Hearts festival just draws in SO many of the biggest country fans, and you can feel their passion. The vibe of the audience matters so much when you’re performing & I will always remember Boots as one of my favourite crowds.

Q: Coming back to Boots and Hearts for another year, what does it mean to you to have this opportunity to represent female Canadian country music?

A: There are a ton of Canadian females putting out amazing music and I think it’s really great that Boots and Hearts is giving so many of us the chance to play.

Q: What is it like to be a female in a male-dominated industry?

A: I would be lying if I said that I didn’t feel it. I think now more than ever is a very cool time to be a woman, especially in country music. Keith Urban just put out that song, “Female”, and I think a lot of male writers are recognizing that women have something to say. I think there is this movement happening that is giving women the confidence to speak up more.

Q: What is the inspiration behind your single “Little Girl”?

A: As a vocalist, I sometimes get the opportunity to tell other peoples stories through songs. Like Quarterback, Little Girl came to me fro Nashville, and I fell in love with the message. The writers, Tebey, Sam Ellis & Elizabeth Elikins put so much effort into making sure that all of the language in the song is powerful and uplifting without being negative. I think the world needs more of that.

Q: What do you do to unwind and relax when you need to get away from performing and writing?

A: I really love to try new restaurants with my friends and family, go to any concert that I can and hang out at home with my cat, Hank. He really wants to come and meet Thomas Rhett.
Thank you!