Growing Up Country
Amanda Hagel’s earliest memories are set to music. Life on the family farm near Lancer, Saskatchewan revolved around music. “I grew up in a musical home. I couldn’t have asked for a better environment to hone my musical skills. I had lots of role models to look up to,” says Amanda.
“As a kid, I remember asking for a guitar instead of a toy. I always knew I wanted to sing and play.”
She credits her big brother with showing her how to play that guitar. “I’d sit in my room and play my guitar for hours and hours.”
She found the guitar became her outlet for creative expression. “The words and music kind of came naturally. I think you have to have a connection to music to deliver it. It’s an instinct I’ve always had.”
Amanda’s first opportunity to perform came when her older siblings invited her to play in their family group, The Chokecherry Band. She describes her first time on stage in front of an audience as “amazing!” There was no looking back after that.
With her rural roots, Amanda has always felt connected to country music. Major musical influences in her life growing up were Garth Brooks, Martina McBride, Faith Hill and Patti Loveless.
“There was something about the honesty and simplicity of country music that has always appealed to me. I also like classic rock, but my love is always going to be for that traditional style of country. The stories are very honest; there’s no emptiness there,” says Amanda.
Realizing New Dreams
Although her career ambitions always revolved around music, Amanda also proved to be an outstanding young athlete. Her parents wisely insisted that she had to advance her education before advancing her musical career, in order to pay the bills.
“It wasn’t what I wanted to hear at the time but it was great advice. I went off to college, played university volleyball and got a kinesiology degree,” says Amanda, who is now one of the province’s foremost certified personal training specialists as well as a personal training course instructor for the Canadian Fitness Professionals in recent years.
“Looking back on my past 11 years as a personal trainer, I see the importance of having established a career in another area of my life that I’m very passionate about: fitness. Helping people to improve their health and well-being is something I find really rewarding.”
It was while working as a fitness consultant that Amanda had her first experience in the recording studio, recording three of her own songs for an EP. Fellow fitness consultant Curtis Korchinski heard Amanda’s EP and loved it. “We began playing together and started our band, Branded Honey. It was a great way to hone my performance skills.”
Visualization techniques have helped Amanda achieve success in both avenues of her career, especially music. “I always had goals I wanted to achieve in my music. One of the first was to sing at my local high school rodeo. I had the chance to go back there and perform,” she says.
Next on Amanda’s list of ambitions was to perform at one of the cabarets during the pro rodeo finals in Saskatoon. “As a university student, I’d go to those cabarets with my friends and think, ‘I want to be up on that stage performing.’ And I did that, with Branded Honey.”
The release of her debut album, Rush, is another dream come true for Amanda. “This album is another one of those aspirations that I’ve been working towards all my life.”