Jess Moskaluke, Brett Kissel stand even as more women get nods for CCMAs

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TORONTO — Country music is often knocked for giving its female musicians a smaller spotlight, but if the nominees for this year’s Canadian Country Music Association awards are any sign, women might be making some inroads to industry equality.

Two of Canada’s country favourites — Jess Moskaluke and Brett Kissel — are neck and neck with six nominations each, the CCMAs announced on Wednesday, marking a rare instance when the women of country are standing tall alongside the men.

In some categories Moskaluke and Kissel are vying for the same trophy. Three women are also nominated in the album of the year category.

It’s a moment that CCMA president Tracy Martin doesn’t want to go unnoticed.

“We’ve had a huge year in Canada for females,” she said of the country genre.

Martin promises this year’s CCMA Awards telecast will “organically” recognize the influential women from various generations of song.

Shania Twain is hosting the event, while Terri Clark will be inducted into the hall of fame, and then there’s Moskaluke, the 28-year-old songstress whose career has been on a steady trajectory helped by a number of CCMA accolades and a Juno Award win for country album.

Moskaluke, born in Langenburg, Sask., got her break in 2011 after being picked as the “Next Big Thing” at a contest sponsored by a Regina radio station. Several months later she was part of a new artist showcase put on by the CCMAs.

The attention helped draw more ears to her debut single “Catch Me If You Can,” and garner significant accolades in the years that followed.

She’s won the CCMA award for best female artist three times over the past four years — losing to newcomer Meghan Patrick last year.

Her album “Kiss Me Quiet” won the 2017 Juno Award for country album, which boosted her status on Canadian country radio.

The awareness helped her single “Drive Me Away” crack the top three of the Billboard Canadian country music airplay chart — making her the first woman to do so since 2008, when Terri Clark climbed to No. 1 with “In My Next Life.”

“Drive Me Away” is now contending for single of the year at the CCMAs alongside f

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