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She May Have Wright Stuff

As a Canadian singer trying to break into the U.S. market, Michelle Wright has learned the virtue of patience.

Wright, who will appear at Silver Mountain Sunday, spent a decade establishing herself as a major star in her own country - and then had to start all over again in the U.S.

“I have a schizoid career,” she only half-joked last week in a phone interview. “It took me 10 years to win a double platinum award in Canada, and in America we’re still trying to build a fan base and get people to understand what we’re doing.”

She broke through in 1990, with her first Top 10 U.S. Hit, “Take It Like A Man,” and in 1992, she won the Country Music Association’s Top New Female Vocalist award.

She’s produced a string of strong records in the meantime, but nothing to rival the success of “Take It Like A Man,” and she doesn’t mince words about wanting to score with another big song.

“A hit record is what we need right now,” she said.

“With the narrowing of formats at country radio, when you’re not a traditional hat act and you’re a woman, it’s a struggle to get on the radio.”

Fortunately, Wright thinks she has the song it will take to get back.

“It’s called ‘I’m Not Afraid,’ and I got the same feeling from this song that I did from ‘Take It Like A Man’ - it’s got the right lyrics, the right groove.”

It was also co-written by her former PR person, which gives her pleasure.

Though Wright grew up listening to Top 40 radio while running the family tractor, her major influences were country music stars - fellow Canadian Anne Murray, Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette, Merle Haggard and George Jones.

As others have found before her, it’s not impossible to crack the U.S. - but neither is it a piece of cake. Wright takes solace from the example of two women who have gone before her - Murray and k.d. lang.

“k.d. proved to me that you can be a star coming out of Canada; this is a very talented individual who believed in herself and was strong enough to make it work.”

xxxx Michelle Wright Location and time: Silver Mountain Amphitheatre Sunday, 3 p.m. Tickets: $27.50 and $22.50