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Madison native Nicole Frechette cuts a record in Music City

MusicGenresMusic IndustryPatsy ClineDixie Chicks (music group)

Nicole Frechette was sitting on her porch in Nashville fixing lunch when the Advocate called. It's a few days before the Madison native is heading into the studio to put the finishing touches on her album, Listen Here, due out on June 4, partially paid for by raising over $10,000 on PledgeMusic.com to help fund her recording costs.

Like some other online funding crowd-sourcing sites, with PledgeMusic musicians must raise their entire goal or else they get nothing, Frechette explained with a little bit of twang in her voice. She raised ten percent more than her goal and donated the surplus to St. Jude Children's Hospital in Memphis, the charity of choice for Country Music, U.S.A.

"It was a little intimidating to raise money on the Internet, but it was a good way to light a fire under my butt," she said.

At age 26, Frechette has been on track to make a living in country music for a decade. "This is the only option for me, there is no Plan B," she said. After trying her hand at musical theater and the pop life, she fell into the more pop side of country, since the genre fits her voice.

"She is going to make it because she's tenacious, beautiful, talented and has great business sense," said Rose Coppola, owner of RVP Studios in West Haven, where Frechette studied as a teenager and now teaches. "Nicole has all the tools so if there's one person who is ever going to make it, it's her. She's self-made, too, so when it happens, the only person who deserves the credit will be her."

Frechette's ability to recognize well-crafted songs is apparent on her eight-song country-pop CD, recorded in 2006. She didn't write any of the cuts, but she sang on them and worked with studio musicians to showcase her style. She gave the disc away, using it as a calling card to help her book gigs, get reviews and open doors. Frechette wrote 30 tunes for her new project and will cherry-pick the best dozen or so.

A throwback to the days of albums, not single-tune downloads, she prefers recording in a studio rather than on her computer. She doesn't need pitch correction software or heavy vocal processing.

"Country still has a song and a story," she said, qualities that attracted her to Patsy Cline, Shania Twain and the Dixie Chicks. And it has absorbed diverse influences, so "You're not in a box with this genre anymore."

She'd like to hook up with a record label rather than release the collection herself. "I'm looking to find the right indie label that has structure and shares the vision I have for the project."

Since November, she's shuttled back and forth between Nashville and Connecticut, though she has performed shows for the troops in Europe and was surprised to find so many country fans in Germany.

And you can take the gal out of Connecticut, but you can't take the nutmeg out of her veins.

"They call me a Yank and I tell them that my only claim to the south is that I'm from southern Connecticut," she said. "I have been given songs where the opening lines are about the 'gorgeous rolling hills of Alabama, where I'm from' and I can't do it. I can't sing lines like that."

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