In 2017, Small Town Girls initially hit the music scene as a trio (Van Maele sisters Haley, Hannah and Cassie), winning the Ice, Snow and 30 Below #kickitwithkissel contest at the ages of 12 and 14. They opened for Brett Kissel in Barrie, January 2017, where he commented that it was like watching "the Dixie Chicks for the first time on stage". They amazed the audience, making this the beginning of their musical journey. For 3 young girls, this was like a dream. Their hard work and dedication had paid off. For the next year, they continued to blossom, travelling province wide to perform at fairs and festivals. Their set list grew from 20 to 30 to 60 songs. They began songwriting with Jason Hamor from Nebraska and Doug Folkins from British Columbia. Songs like “Small Town Girls” and “Six String” were added to their set, showcasing their ability to write and harmonize their own music.
In 2018, the band added drummer Jillian Van Daalen, and promptly won their second #kickitwithkissel contest, earning them a spot on the “We Were that Song” tour in North Bay, Ontario. This time they played an original song "Right As Rain" wowing the audience with their harmonies and playing abilities. This gained them recognition from the Country Music Association of Ontario, who named them Artist of the Month for January 2018. Small Town Girls went on to win the Country Wild Music Festival “Emerging Artist Contest” as well as the Boot Hill Jamboree “Rising Star Contest” winning them a set at Boot Hill Jamboree, performing ahead of Johnson Crook, Nice Horse and Aaron Goodvin. The year ended on a high as the Girls won the “Norfolk Has Talent” contest and walked away with $5000 in winnings.
By early 2019, Small Town Girls rounded out their sound by adding bassist Delaney Blake. They placed in the top six of the “Next Country Music Star Contest” and gained new fans and followers on Social Media. A full schedule of summer/fall events and festivals followed as the Girls continued to develop their sound and strengthen their live act. One of the highlights of 2019 was opening for Cold Creek County in June, as well as having their own set at Country Wild Music Festival while further honing their craft by writing and developing new material.
Late 2019 and early 2020 had the Girls in Jukasa Studios, tracking, mixing and mastering their original songs with
Juno award-winning producer/engineer Darren Magierowski. The three original songs “Dumpster Fire”, “Girls Like
Us”, and “Country-fied Saturday Night” were ready in February 2020 and preliminary work had begun for the songs’
release to radio and streaming services, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
The disappointment of summer show cancellations in 2020 was especially deep for Small Town Girls. They were booked for Havelock Jamboree, Hagersville Rocks, Hollyrood Country Jamboree and other shows, and were anticipating a further break-out with the release of their singles. But they gathered their resolve and continued working on their development as musicians, songwriters and performers, while further solidifying their online fanbase.
Eager promoters have re-booked the Girls for 2021, anticipating a breakout from this dedicated and extremely
talented group of young women.
Haley, the original Small Town Girl, entered the music scene at the young age of 9, winning a local talent competition singing a Johnny Cash favourite "Get Rhythm". From there, her music teacher Alison Schott contacted local radio broadcaster Randy Owen, who had her on his show the same day as a Hamilton-based Johnny Cash Tribute Artist, Paul Anthony. Paul was so impressed he invited Haley to sing at his show the next night. She went on to open for the CASH show numerous times at Molson Studio, First Ontario Center and Lincoln Alexander Theater, both in Hamilton. By the time Haley was 11, her sisters were waiting in the wings to join her. In 2016, they formed the group Small Town Girls.
Hannah, Haley's identical twin sister, who was also 11 at the time, initially joined in on background vocals, and picking her mandolin to many classic country tunes. She has a natural ear for music, and loves the stage. She excels on her mandolin and has recently taken up the bass. Hannah originally started her music lessons with well known Bluegrass duo The Schotts, on the piano. Her love of being in the spotlight shines through on stage, with her engaging smile, picking and harmonies.
Cassie, the oldest in the group was 13 when they formed Small Town Girls. She continues to amaze audiences with her guitar playing, getting noticed by such guitarists as Lindsey Ell and Tara Mcleod, lead guitarist for Nice Horse. She has learned from some of the best including Paul Chapman and Darrin Schott. Cassie's love of guitar shows in the dedication she has given her craft at such young age, her ability on stage, and her overall eagerness to learn and further hone her skills.
Jillian joined the band in early 2018 as the drummer, and at 16 she is no stranger to the spotlight, competing in the contest "Hit Like a Girl". As a result, she was recruited and cast in a commercial. If that wasn't enough she was also interviewed on CBC Radio alongside Sheila E. She has learned drums from some of the best drummers in the industry, using 180 Drums as her platform. Her love and passion for playing shines through. Her musical ability isn't limited to the drums, as she also plays the piano, violin, ukulele, banjo, bass guitar and sings. Her love of music doesn’t stop at simply playing. She has also had the opportunity to sit with an established artist to help her sharpen her writing skills. She is a well-rounded musician whose versatility makes her a perfect fit for Small Town Girls.
Delaney joined the band in 2019 as their bass player. Delaney’s love of music started at the age of 8 when she first started taking guitar lessons. She has been playing electric bass for the past three years and is also proficient on the double bass. Delaney’s musical abilities continue to grow on a daily basis as she is enrolled in the prestigious Performing Arts program at O’Neill CVI, a renowned arts program that focuses on instrumental, vocal, drama and dance. Delaney also enjoys playing acoustic & electric guitar and has been noticed by The Chainsmokers, Lindsay Ell, Nik West Bass, John Driskell Hopkins (Zac Brown Band) and Robbie Robertson among others on her social media. Her love of music is driven by a strong work ethic and eagerness to develop and grow her musicianship.
Photos courtesy of Kevin Vyse at Stage Pass Media.
- Two time winner of Langton Fair Singing Competition - 2015/16
- Winners of Brett Kissel & CMAO “Ice, Snow and 30 Below” Opening Act Competition - 2017
- Performed and participated in CMAO Charity Baseball Game during CMAO Awards Weekend in London, ON - 2017
- Winners of Brett Kissel & CMAO “We Were That Song Tour” Opening Act Competition - 2018
- Named CMAO Artists of the Month - January 2018
- Country Wild Music Festival “Emerging Artists” Showcase Winners - 2018
- Boot Hill Jamboree “Rising Stars 2018” Winners - Winning A Slot on the Main Stage at Boot Hill Jamboree - 2018
- 2018 Norfolk Has Talent - Grand Prize Winners of $5000
- The Next Country Music Star Contest – Top Six Finalist - 2019
- 103.9 (Country 104)
- 104.7 (Heart FM)
- 107.3 (Country Radio)
- FM94.7 (Hardcore Country Radio) Western University Country Radio and Studio
- Rogers TV (Oxford County)
REFERENCES AND MUSICIANS
Small Town Girls have played with or shared a stage/event with include, among others:
- Brett Kissel
- Marshall Dane
- Eric Ethridge
- The Good Brothers
- Tyler Vollrath
- Western Swing Authority
- River Town Saints
- James Barker Band
- Leah Daniels
- Genevieve Fisher
- Dani Strong
- Birdtown Band
- Bobby Wills
- Ben Hudson
- Johnson Crook
- Nice Horse
- Aaron Goodvin
- Cold Creek County
…and many more