Local country singer Alecia Aichelle is gearing up for the release of her first full-length CD Golden this spring – and the journey to get to this point has been an amazing story in and of itself.
Today, the vivacious, talented young woman is a confident and accomplished musician who has been singing since she was four. But about a decade ago, just prior to entering Red Deer College to study music, doctors found a large tumour on her thyroid gland. “When they removed it, they had to remove half of the thyroid gland as well because the tumour was wrapped around it,” she explained. “It was about three weeks before Red Deer College that I had the surgery.
“I was told that everything would be fine and that it wouldn’t affect my voice,” she said.
But she woke up with no voice.
“I couldn’t talk at all. I had a tiny little whisper.”
She moved to Red Deer to start school, and after several weeks without improvement in her voice, she was sent for more follow-up where it was found that there had been complications resulting in permanent paralysis of her right vocal cord.
“I was told I would never sing again and most likely never talk normally again.”
She was devastated and recalls initially being angry at God, wondering why He had given her this gift only to see it taken away. But the support and prayers of friends, family and her parents and her strong and foundational Christian faith brought her to a place of hope.
And eventually, to complete healing.
“Three months went by and my speaking voice started to come back,” she said, adding the doctor told her that it just couldn’t be explained medically. “He said it didn’t make sense, and I said well, thousands of people are praying. People across Canada – families, relatives, churches and people I didn’t even know – were praying for me. I said that I had really believed I would be healed, and that this had all happened for a reason.
“So it’s really a story of hope.”
After six months her voice was fully restored and it was deemed to be nothing short of a miracle.
“It’s also really given me the reassurance that this is what I’m meant to do.”
Meanwhile, her new single Without June, which was produced in Red Deer, was released to Canadian Country Radio and iTunes this past January.
This single was co-written in Nashville with Greg Friia and Emilee Allan.
Indeed, Aichelle has had the privilege of writing with many songwriters in Nashville including Joe Forte, Greg Friia (Bonnie Tyler, Richie McDonald, Eric Paslay), Emilee Allan and Mary Danna (Trisha Yearwood, Trace Adkins, Carolyn Dawn Johnson).
As for Golden, the majority of the project was produced by Daniel Dennis at Prime Cut Studios in Nashville, with the single Without June produced by Heath West, Dennis, and Aichelle.
Being in ‘Music City’ also provided a source of rich inspiration in itself. “Every time I go there I’m just amazed. There is so much talent and everywhere you go there is amazing live music.
“You are just constantly being inspired.”
The City also provides a welcoming and warm environment for aspiring artists. “I find that most of the artists and musicians that I meet down there have been amazing – very welcoming and very down to earth. It’s almost like a small town in a big city kind of thing – it really has that feel.”
Dennis covered much of the instrumentation on the CD, plus he engineered the project and handled the final mastering.
Born and raised in Kelowna, B.C., Aichelle’s love for music and performance began early on as she grew up singing in her church and excelled in Royal Conservatory classical piano.
“I remember my first performance – it was a Christmas Eve service at my church and the pastor called all of the kids up. We sang Away in a Manger, and then he asked if anyone knew the second verse. I raised my hand, he put me on the microphone and I sang the second verse of Away in a Manger for about 1,500 people,” she explains with a laugh.
Aichelle was also introduced to country music at a young age by her parents, who have been devoted supporters of her musical dreams. Some of her first influences include Martina McBride, Faith Hill, Shania Twain, Dolly Parton, Paul Brandt, and CCR, to name a few.
“Country was definitely not considered ‘cool’ where I grew up, but it was my passion, a part of me, and I really didn’t care that the other kids teased me about it. It has always been who I am and I have always stuck to my guns.
“It’s been my passion since my parents got me into it. For me, it’s about the stories behind the songs,” she said. “I love banjo, fiddle and mandolin. I love the country instruments – the pedal steel – and the sounds of country.”
One of her dreams came true when she was invited to perform a ‘Writer’s In The Round’ show with three other songwriters at the legendary Bluebird Café Nashville in November of 2014.
“I also like how genuine country music is as well – it comes from a very real, honest place. That to me is what music is about – telling stories and sharing your heart with other people. So it was always my goal and dream to be a country music recording artist.”