Real change can happen: Acclaimed Canadian country music artist Paul Brandt gives back

After 15 years in the music industry, Paul Brandt is taking a look back.

Paul Brandt will be playing the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre on December 14. He spoke with The News about his passion for music and his work with charities in developing countries.

After 15 years in the music industry, Paul Brandt is taking a look back.

On his most recent album, Brandt re-recorded hits “I do,” and “My Heart Has a History,” giving the classic songs a new sound.

“I made the album to remember what happened, but it’s not a sad exploration of the past, just a quick reflection,” Brandt told The News during a recent interview.

Since debuting in 1996, Brandt has become the most awarded male Canadian country artist in history, with gold and triple platinum albums, and numerous Canadian Country Music and Juno Awards.

Most recently, the musician performed for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at the Calgary Stampede during the couple’s tour of Canada, and released his 10th album, “Give it away.”

Brandt’s first season of his documentary series, “Built It Forward,” also wrapped this year, with the last episodes just recently airing on the Country Music Television (CMT) channel.

The show chronicles the lives of seven families who work, but cannot afford decent living conditions. Each family receives a new home, but are responsible for giving back as well.

Travelling to developing countries with Brandt and his wife Elizabeth, the families build homes for others who are in similar financial situations.

Over the course of his career, the singer has worked with a number of charities and has travelled to Ethiopia, Malawi, Uganda, Chile, South Korea, Bosnia and Cambodia for humanitarian projects.

Part of the proceeds from his newest album will go towards Brandt’s “The Priceles$ Gift of Hope Foundation” – an organization that seeks to raise awareness and funds to stop human trafficking.

After meeting a little girl in Cambodia who had been sold into slavery, Brandt says that every performance has new meaning.

“It’s about selflessness and what you can do for other people. I know that the passion I have behind (performing) is changing the world.”

The Alberta native also hosted the “Up from the Ashes” benefit concert in Edmonton this past September, in support of those affected by the Slave Lake fire. The concert raised close to $170,000 for supplies to rebuild the destroyed regional library.

While his love for music continues, with his 11th album entitled “Just As I Am,” being released sometime in 2012, so will his philanthropic efforts.

“At 23, I realized that I could use this career as a platform, a tool to do good things,” Brandt said.

“I really believe that when people know what they are worth, real change can happen.”

Brandt plays at the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre on Wednesday, Dec. 14. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the show starts at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets are $34.30 and $47.50 and can be purchased at the AESC box office, by phone at 1-866-977-AESC (2372) or online www.livenation.com.

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