Launching her solo music career as a country-pop artist in 2010, MacKenzie Porter has topped charts in both her home country of Canada and in the U.S. Porter has been involved in music since she was a young girl, and even began acting in the late 2000’s. She made a statement with her six-week chart-dominating U.S. No. 1 duet “Thinking ‘Bout You,” with Dustin Lynch in 2023. In the same year, she also won her first CMA award for Musical Collaboration of the Year with Dallas Smith’s song “One Too” which she was featured on.
In 2018, Porter signed with Nashville-based Big Loud Records, becoming their first Canadian artist. Since then, she has dedicated her time to working on her music and growing in her musical career. She had her debut American release, Drinkin’ Songs: The Collection in 2020 which included three top charting songs.
After internationally touring as an opener for Blake Shelton, Kenny Chesney, Walker Hayes, Jordan Davis, Brad Paisley, Dallas Smith, and Rascal Flatts, Porter recently completed her own Canadian headline tour. Her new full-length debut album, Nobody’s Born With a Broken Heart, will be released on April 26th.
We had a great time talking with Mackenzie Porter about the inspirations behind her new album, a day in the life in her hometown of Alberta, and her exciting plans to travel with her soon-to-be-born daughter.
I’ve been listening to the new album and it is fantastic. Can you tell me a little bit about the process of putting it together?
It’s definitely been a journey. Some of the songs on there, I wrote probably up
to four years ago until the last song on the record I wrote when I was in the studio cutting the record. The music spans a long period of time which is kind of like my journey in Nashville, it hasn’t been crazy fast. I’m so excited because I really do feel like now I’m ready to put out music I’m really proud of and I’m at the right spot in my life.
That’s kind of the whole idea of the record. It’s called Nobody’s Born With a Broken Heart and how we all start out in life so innocent and pure and full. Then little by little, life accumulates. It’s like small cracks of disappointment or heartbreak. I think that’s a beautiful thing. It shows that you really took chances or loved people and got hurt along the way, but that’s what living is.
I loved “Young at Heart.” It particularly jumped out to me as a favorite. Is there something special behind that song or a story that made you write it?
I feel like I’m the type of person that’s pretty put together and mature. But there are times when there’s a heartbreak or certain situations where my dramatic side comes out, and it doesn’t matter how old you are, if you’re hurting, I feel like that’s when that side of people comes out a tiny bit more, especially for me. I loved this idea of a little bit of wildness coming out when you’re heartbroken.
Yeah, as I’m getting older, I could just really resonate with that song. I was like, ‘Oh, this is really cool.’
I think when a 50-year old or 60-year old gets heartbroken, they’re still going to feel the same pain, the same heartbreak. You kind of revert back to that childlike passion or feeling when you love somebody that much.
Do you have a favorite song on the album that you like to sing?
I think my favorite song to sing would be “Rough Ride For a Cowboy” just because it’s so fun live. When we play it live, we’ve added this super long fiddle solo. I play the violin, which is really, really fun. I feel like it just crushes live.
Then another one I would say that I’m really enjoying live is “Pay Me Back in Change” where I’ll just sit there with my acoustic and strip it down. It’s a nice little moment, you know, there’s no tracks, there’s no big band in the background, It’s me and a guitar, like how you write songs in Nashville. I think that’s a really special thing to do live as well.
You grew up in Alberta, Canada which is pretty close to one of my favorite places on Earth, which is Banff. What’s your perfect day in Alberta?
Well, it depends on the season. In the winter, it’s very cold but in the summer it’s really hot. But if it’s winter, a perfect day would be just me and my family going for a snow walk. There’s this bakery by my parents’ place where we would walk to get fresh bread, then come home. My family loves to cook. Everything in the whole world revolves around food with them.
So probably starting in the morning cooking some ridiculously long breakfast. Then we start lunch and the whole day is just preparing these epic meals. I love that in the winter. Then in the summer, we have a little lake house on Elkwater. We’ll go out and go boating and have a fire, have a glass of wine and just be out in nature. I love that about Alberta.
Last year you toured all over the world in Europe, Australia, the U.S. Did you find any hidden gems on the road that you would tell people to go see?
Our favorite thing when we are on the road is food. My band is also foodies. I think we all love food. Usually in the morning we would get up early before we have the venue and find some sort of local cafe or coffee shop to try in that city just to get a sense of it. The last time we were in Chicago, we went to this insane rooftop. The owner brought us up wine and appetizers from his restaurant on this private rooftop.
It was such a special moment. We played the Windy City Smokeout and then afterwards went up and had this really gorgeous meal. I just love that kind of experience in every city. We’ll never hit a Starbucks. We’ll always try to go somewhere local and experience a little independently owned café.
I read that you don’t love to fly. I’m kind of the same. I love going places but I don’t like the trip to get there. What are some of your must pack items for long plane rides?
I’m exactly like you. I hate flying. I’m not scared, I just get uncomfortable and nauseous sometimes. I don’t like being cramped. So, for me, I have to be in a sweat suit. I cannot fly in not comfortable clothing, like no jeans, ever. Obviously AirPods or a book or some sort of entertainment to distract myself. It’s usually an audiobook or something. Also, because I get nauseous, I’ll have a Ziploc baggie with Dramamine just in case. I don’t love airplane food either, I like my own snacks.
I saw you perform for the first time last year at CMA down at the Riverfront stage. Did you have any standout CMA moments? Are you planning to be back this year?
I’m definitely planning to be back this year. I’ve played it a few times, but Riverfront was a really big solo show for me. The energy in that crowd was so fun. Like, people are there to have a good time. The year before I played a smaller stage. Then we played Nissan, but I only got to play one song. Last year was like my full set which was fun.
It was just so special to be in Nashville, not having to travel, like to actually come home after a show or get ready in your house and play for your friends at the show. But CMA Fest is just such a buzzy energy. It’s such a busy week and so many people are there to have fun. It’s such a good feeling to do all these different shows and feel all the energy. I’ll definitely be back this year.
You made a transition from acting to music full time now. You filmed Travellers in one of the most beautiful places, Vancouver. Do you ever miss being in Vancouver? I mean, Nashville’s cool, but they’re two very different places.
Yeah, I definitely miss parts of Vancouver. I had a lot of friends there and a cute little condo that we lived in right downtown. I miss a lot of that. But Nashville is just where we’ll end up forever. I just love the city. I grew up on a ranch outside of a very small town. So, the small-town aspect of Nashville really speaks to me. But also, like I said, I love food and I love shopping, and Nashville also has all of that. It’s kind of like the best of both worlds to me. I’m pregnant, I’m having a daughter, and I feel like schools here are good too. The lifestyle for a family is really, really beautiful in Nashville.
You announced your pregnancy back in November. Do you have any places that you are looking forward to travelling your new baby?
Oh my gosh, so many. She’s going to be a little world traveler by the time she’s one. She’s going to come on the road with us all the time. And of course, I don’t know how that’s all going to play out, because I’ve never done anything like this before.
When I flew last week, Elle King was sitting behind me with her son and I told my husband I was like, ‘See? You can travel with a kid and you just lug them around.’ It’s a good experience and educational for them to start seeing new places. So, I’m excited to first take her to my hometown, but then get her to come to all my shows and be side stage with those little headphones that kids have and experience her mom living her dream too.
I’m so inspired by so many women that are having kids and they’re still crushing their careers and they bring their kids along. They might have help or something like that, but they are still doing their thing. I think that is so important and so cool and so much more accepted than it used to be.
I feel like that was a fear of mine when I decided I wanted to have a family. I wondered how my career would look and what people would think. As soon as I started telling people, and then also in my own head, I realized that judgment was just something that I was putting on, and nobody else really thinks that. And everyone’s like, ‘That’s awesome. You can do it all.’ I really believe you can.
Well, I’m sure your fans will be happy you’re not going to slow down and they’ll still get to see you. Do you have any plans to ever do more acting, or are you 100% music right now?
No, I definitely want to do more acting. Last year, we had the strike the whole year, so that was pretty slow. But this year I actually talked to my agent yesterday and he’s like, ‘Let’s start having you audition for things that film in April and on,’ just because I can’t film being this pregnant. So, I’ll start auditioning for things filming April through the summer and hopefully, you know, sprinkle in some acting parts here or there as well.
The one thing I respected as I read more and more about you was just how hard of a worker you are. You’re completely committed to all things that you do.
I think you have to be, as a woman these days in this industry. I literally love it so much. I really do love my job. I think that’s so important. It doesn’t feel hard to get up and feel motivated and work your butt off when you really enjoy the process and the product that you’re making.