Jordan McIntosh’s goal with every song he releases and every gig he plays is to establish a genuine emotional connection with his audience. “My favourite songs are the ones I relate to the most, so I tend to sing about things I’ve experienced personally,” the Carleton Place, Ontario-based Country artist says.That’s had a major impact on the songs McIntosh has recorded to date, particularly ‘That Girl,’ the first single from his upcoming 2014 debut record, which will be released on IROC Music and distributed by Big Star and Universal Music Canada. “Last year something happened in my life that was really difficult to deal with. Music is the best form of therapy, so I sat down wrote out my feelings, called up some other writers I work with and asked for their take on it. It’s the most personal song I’ve ever written,” he adds, one that offers an earnest male perspective on relationships, “and deals with things that a lot of people, and though they might not want to admit it, a lot of guys go through.”

McIntosh’s 2013 single, ‘Grew Up In A Country Song,’ also relies heavily on his own experiences and plays out like a series of lyrical snapshots from a classic country tune; all drawn from his memories of growing up in the rural community of Carleton Place. “In Country music every song tells a different story and I wanted to write something that paid respect to where I’m from.” McIntosh draws on a wide range of influences when telling his stories, artists including Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, fellow Canadian Johnny Reid and Country pop icons Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift. “My dad always had the country station on and I grew up listening to Brooks and Dunn, Garth Brooks and Dwight Yoakam, but I take different things from a lot of different artists. I learn something from one, another thing from someone else and take any inspiration I can from them.”

McIntosh’s first influence was actually his older sister, Melissa. “My entire family is musical, but I idolized my sister. She started to sing before I did and, being younger, I wanted to do everything she did. That’s how I found out I could sing. I never really studied music. I just sang all the time. I know there’s a one in a million chance that you can make a career of your ability to sing. That’s always kept me focused, but I couldn’t do any of this without my family.”

Urged on by his family, McIntosh and took every opportunity he could to get up on stage. He won his first vocal competition in elementary school and continued to hone his chops performing at a variety of talent and singing contests across Ontario and the United States. Among them; the 2011 Ottawa Super Ex Stars on the Rise competition and Walt Disney World’s American Idol Experience, which draws hundreds of entrants from across North America and where he’s taken first place three times, most recently in 2010.

It was a YouTube video of his winning performance of ‘Amazed’ by Lonestar at a local Kiwanis Idol competition in 2011, however, that attracted the attention of Neville Paul and Ryan O’Connor of IROC Music and NPMG Management. “They called my parents out of the blue and said, ‘We believe in your son and think he could make a career out of this and we’d like to help.’” The decision to meet with them, McIntosh says, was one of the best he and his family have ever made.

Since, Paul and O’Connor have helped McIntosh further develop his already substantial skills as a singer, performer and songwriter. As part of that development McIntosh has traveled to Nashville multiple times to work with a variety of songwriters and producers, undertaken a national promotional tour, played at the Ottawa Bluesfest, the Emerging Artist Showcase at the Boots and Hearts Music Festival and sung the national anthem at an Ottawa Senators home game.

In 2013, McIntosh also released a video for ‘Grew Up In A Country Song,’ which earned him the title of Fresh Face Feature Artiston CMT Canada in November and a holiday single entitled ‘Christmas Time,’ as well as appearing in the CMT video ‘Home for Christmas’ alongside George Canyon, Aaron Pritchett and One More Girl. Additionally, McIntosh has leant his talents to various charitable events, including The Almonte General Hospital Fundraising Ceremony and the Relay for Life, which raised over $117,000.00 for the fight against cancer.

Already, McIntosh has much of 2014 mapped out, beginning with a support slot on the Young Guns tour (featuring Brett Kissel and One More Girl), as well as shows at Manitoba’s Dauphin Country Fest, the Havelock Country Jamboree, PEI’s Cavendish Beach Music Festival and a return to Boots and Hearts in August.

Not bad for an artist who just turned eighteen and who’s been juggling his budding musical career while finishing his senior year of high school, but don’t let his age fool you, McIntosh has a voice and a depth of emotional range well beyond his years. He’s a natural born performer with stage presence to spare – as fearless and focused on stage as he is on record – qualities that recently prompted Jim Cressman, President of Invictus Entertainment, to throw his support behind McIntosh as well.

Put bluntly, McIntosh’s talents are undeniable. They’re as evident on his 2012 debut single, ‘Walk Away’ as they are on his countrified version of Lil’ Wayne’s ‘How To Love,’ which has reached over 200,000 views on YouTube and shows a comfort level and confidence that artists with far more years on stage behind them would find enviable.

There have been sacrifices along the way, McIntosh admits, but they’ve been worth it. “It’s difficult to balance everything – school, friends, music – but this is my passion and a dream that’s started to become a reality over the past year. The album is the next big step and I’m really excited to get it together and get it out there. There’s nothing else I’m focusing on. All my attention, everything in me, is going into this.”

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JORDAN MCINTOSH