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Saturday, May 18, 2024

ECMA Breakout Spotlight: Hearts of Kin

Meet the country band, which is one of the breakout artists at this year's East Coast Music Awards.

As East Coast Music Association CEO Andy McLean said in our recent interview, the annual East Coast Music Awards, coming to Halifax from May 3-7, are an opportunity to discover something new.

Among the many musical showcases over the five-day celebration is the Breakout Stage at the Seahorse Tavern on May 5. Featuring some of “the most promising emerging and developing artists from around Atlantic Canada,” this is the perfect opportunity to discover your next favourite artist.

In our ongoing series, we check in with some of the artists performing at the Breakout Stage. In this edition, we learn more from the country band Hearts of Kin.

You can learn more about Hearts of Kin and their music on their website,, and follow them on FacebookInstagram, and YouTube.

This interview has been edited.

Please introduce yourself to our readers.

Hearts of Kin is an emerging East Coast country band fronted by sisters Danielle MacDonald and Shellie Tobin. In their relatively short career, the singer/songwriters have been capturing audiences with their fresh brand of timeless folk and country, soulfully delivered with sweet sibling harmonies nestled in the warm sound of the sisters’ signature slide guitar.

How do you describe your music?

Drawing from our own experiences and homegrown roots, our songwriting style reflects the early influences of the late great John Prine, Sheryl Crow, Bonnie Raitt and, more recently, sister duo Larkin Poe.

How did you get into making music?

We emerged in music at a young age, having been raised in a house of Cape Breton kitchen parties, listening to our father pick the guitar and grandfather play the fiddle. We both learned to play guitar in our teens, while songwriting would come into play in recent years.

What was the best advice someone gave you when you started as a musician?

The best advice we’ve received would be to work hard, love what you do and do it for the right reasons. You can’t go wrong if you’re in it for the love of the music. We love sharing our music, and the connection you feel with an attentive audience is enough magic to keep you going for a lifetime.

What or who inspires you as a musician?

Our biggest inspiration has always been our father. His musical influence really ignited the fire in us at a young age while we continued to be inspired by our peers on the local music scene. Watching them give their heart and soul to make their dreams come true is an incredible source of inspiration for us both and really helps keep that fire burning.

What are you working on musically right now?

With the release of our debut EP in 2021, we are thrilled to be back in the studio recording our first full-length album. We are recording this project independently, so the process has been very creatively inspiring as we bring each song to life. We are working with a local producer to round out the sound with a pro mix and master, so we’re very excited to see the finished product later this year.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

In five years, we hope to have plenty more music released, expand our touring to other areas of the globe and reach a fan base on a much larger scale. We don’t plan on slowing down any time soon!

What advice do you have for other aspiring musicians?

Stay true to yourself. Be authentic. The people want to know who you are and what you’re all about, so be sure to let them in and show them. They will appreciate you for it. That’s what it’s all about!

What can fans expect from your live show?

We like to put on a show with lots of variety. So you can expect to hear a variety of styles, including acoustic, electric and slide guitar, from high-energy songs to stripped-down, vulnerable ballads. We play mostly original music but love to throw in some of our favourite covers in our set—something for everyone.

You can learn more about Hearts of Kin and their music on their website,, and follow them on FacebookInstagram, and YouTube.

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