Meet Madison Kozak: Young Canadian singer-songwriter set to take the Country music scene by storm
At just 10 years old, Madison was selected to perform at the Havelock Country Jamboree, a music festival drawing an audience of 30,000 people. Madison’s passion for music eventually led her to Nashville, where she has since worked diligently to hone her craft. When asked about her songwriting style, she responded, “I write music with my live shows in mind. I strive to create music with a strong backbeat and lots of groove. Authenticity and truthful lyrics are key to my creative process.” Madison seamlessly blends her old-country roots with clever lyrics and catchy melodies to create a sound that is fresh, unique and compelling. We caught up with her recently to talk about her professional journey and the inspiration behind her latest single ‘First Last Name’.
When I was younger I wanted to be… A country singer. From the first time I stepped on a stage at age 9, I was hooked.
My proudest accomplishment… Graduating from Belmont University was a proud moment for me. I remember fighting with my parents after high school about not wanting to go to college, I was hell-bent on focusing on music full time. And I suppose the saying “Mother knows best” is true because those 4 years were some of the most transformative of my life and my career. I signed my publishing deal at the end of my 3rd year, after being discovered at a songwriting panel on campus. When my parents called to ask me if I wanted to drop out and pursue music full time, I said: “Nope, I didn’t come this far to only come this far.” I was able to finish out strong in the midst of writing full time and signing my record deal.
My boldest move to date… Moving to Nashville at age 14. I was so young yet so determined, thankfully I had the full support of my family in the big transition. I couldn’t have done it without their blessing.
My biggest setback was… When I first moved to Nashville I spent years chasing a sound and style that wasn’t fully me. Probably because I hadn’t experienced enough life yet to be truly sure of who I was, and I was so impressionable of everyone else I thought was cool.
I overcame it by… I found the common thread between all my heroes was that they all had something to say that was authentic to them. So I started going into my writing sessions with that in mind. If I had to choose between finishing an entire song in one sitting that I didn’t really connect with or getting a few lines in one day that I relate to wholeheartedly, I would choose the latter every time. I stopped worrying about what I thought people might want to hear or what the radio might play and started thinking about what stories I had to share that really meant something to me.
My advice to young girls wanting to follow in a similar path to me would be… Write and sing your truth.
If I wasn’t a singer I would be… Probably something else in the music business like a publisher (working with songwriters). I love working with fellow creatives! I interned in publishing while I was in college, and have always so fascinated by the life of a song.
“When you’re climbing the ladder and putting in the work to get where you want to go, don’t look horizontally and compare yourself to what others are doing around you. Just do you. That’s where the magic is.”
The best part of what I do is… Connecting with other people. Whether it’s in the writing room with co-writers or on stage with an audience, I love how music can be a bridge to bring people together. I think it’s the coolest feeling when a bunch of different people can all relate to a line in a song, finding common ground even though we all may have different backstories.
My song “First Last Name” is special to me because… It’s the most personal song I’ve ever written and it’s about my biggest inspiration: my dad. “First Last Name” was originally supposed to be a gift to my dad for Fathers Day. He was the one who taught me everything I know and love about country music. Growing up we spent nearly every weekend travelling to fairs, festivals, churches and retirement homes to play our favourite classic country music; it was just the way we bonded. This song feels very nostalgic to me and reminds me of why I love what I do and how this journey all began.
My biggest professional influences have been…
- Loretta Lynn (my 1st concert)
- Shania Twain
- Keith Urban
- Nicolle Galyon
- Tom Douglas
- Lori McKenna
My greatest advice from a mentor was… A piece of advice that Nicolle Galyon (my label president and songwriting mentor) shared with me: When you’re climbing the ladder and putting in the work to get where you want to go, don’t look horizontally and compare yourself to what others are doing around you. Just do you. That’s where the magic is.
If I were to pick one thing that had helped me succeed it would be…My family. I’m one of 8 siblings, so we’re more like a small village but they gave me so much encouragement from the beginning and made me believe anything was possible if I worked hard enough and was kind to people.
If you googled me you still wouldn’t know… My Tim Horton’s order is a medium steeped tea with 1 milk, 1 & 1/2 sugar and a sour cream glazed donut.
The future excites me because… Every day just keeps getting better. I’m excited to keep checking things off 10-year-old Madison’s list of dreams. Also, excited because I know THE FUTURE IS FEMALE.