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Van Maele sisters from Small Town Girls to open for Brett Kissel at Barrie concert

By Chris Abbott, Postmedia Network

It's been a busy year for Small Town Girls, a Langton-based band consisting of three sisters, Haley, Hannah and Cassie, and Mount Elgin's Rebecca Allender. From the top left, clockwise, are Haley at her Valentine Sweetheart concert with Paul Anthony and his Cash tribute band; Hannah and Haley singing O Canada with Dan Demeester at the Langton Skating Club carnival in April; Haley, Cassie and Hannah singing at Langton's Relay for Life; Haley and Hannah - winners of the Langton Fair junior talent show; Cassie, Hannah, Haley and Rebecca Allender at a Christmas performance in Tillsonburg; Cassie, Hannah, Haley and Rebecca at the Tillsonburg Fair; and Haley, Hannah and Cassie at the Langton Relay for Life. They also performed in Delhi, Springford, Langton, Simcoe and other area festivals. (CHRIS ABBOTT/TILLSONBURG NEWS/FILE PHOTOS)

It's been a busy year for Small Town Girls, a Langton-based band consisting of three sisters, Haley, Hannah and Cassie, and Mount Elgin's Rebecca Allender. From the top left, clockwise, are Haley at her Valentine Sweetheart concert with Paul Anthony and his Cash tribute band; Hannah and Haley singing O Canada with Dan Demeester at the Langton Skating Club carnival in April; Haley, Cassie and Hannah singing at Langton's Relay for Life; Haley and Hannah - winners of the Langton Fair junior talent show; Cassie, Hannah, Haley and Rebecca Allender at a Christmas performance in Tillsonburg; Cassie, Hannah, Haley and Rebecca at the Tillsonburg Fair; and Haley, Hannah and Cassie at the Langton Relay for Life. They also performed in Delhi, Springford, Langton, Simcoe and other area festivals. (CHRIS ABBOTT/TILLSONBURG NEWS/FILE PHOTOS)

A Langton, Ontario trio from Small Town Girls - Haley, Hannah, and Cassie Van Maele - have been selected as the opening act for Juno and CCMA award winning artist, Brett Kissel, at the Georgian Theatre in Barrie on Jan. 20.

The three young sisters, 12-year-old twins Haley and Hannah and 14-year-old Cassie, were selected from contestants vying to perform with Kissel through his 'Kick It With Kissel' contest.

"They screamed," said Janice Van Maele, the trio's mother who recorded the special moment. "They screamed."

And there might have been some tears, dad Mike Van Maele laughed.

"Are you serious?" was Haley's reaction - after screaming. "Is this a joke? If this is a joke..."

"When I got the phone call at work today, I said, 'are you serious?'" laughed Janice, sharing Haley's reaction. "I couldn't believe it."

"Barrie? Where's that," Hannah quizzed.

"It's like a dream," said Cassie.

It's almost like Christmas came early for the Van Maele family.

"Haley says it's bigger than Christmas, Cassie too," said Janice. "Hannah... she isn't saying anything."

"Because my mouth's full," Hannah smiled.

"She (Hannah) says Christmas is pretty big, she doesn't know," said Janice.

Applicants were asked to record a video performing their favourite original, cover, or Kissel songs and to post it to social media using the #KickItWithKissel hashtag. Winners were chosen by a panel comprised of Country Music Association of Ontario board members, Invictus Entertainment, and Kissel himself.

Small Town Girls sent their video Dec. 11th, featuring their cover of Kissel's Canadian Kid, and Kissel retweeted two days later, "This absolutely made my day! Check out these young 'soon to be superstars' - the Small Town Girls."

Other Ontario winners receiving the good news Monday included Kansas Stone, Cory Marquardt, The Abrams, Ashlynne Vince, Kris Barclay, Sacha Visagie, Buck Twenty, Ben Hudson (who received early confirmation), Alessia Cohle, Runaway Angel, Abby Stewart, and Marshall Dane, who will also open for Kissel in Barrie.

"We are thrilled to share the stage with Brett," said the girls, who will have 15 minutes on stage. "It's a great opportunity to spread our music and grow our fan base."

Kissel is a Juno award winner, multi Canadian Country Music Association (CCMA) award winner, and reigning CCMA 'Fan's Choice' and 'Male Artist of the Year.'

His 'Ice, Snow & 30 Below' tour begins in Sault St. Marie, on Jan. 12, and ends Feb. 4 in Georgetown, PEI with 17 stops in between.

"I remember how helpful it was to my career to open for a bigger artist and play to a packed house," commented Kissel in a media release. "I'm happy to provide a similar opportunity to up and coming artists as there is so much great talent out there!"

Tickets to the Barrie concert were nearly sold out as of Monday night - about 40 tickets left, said Janice.

"They are really looking forward to it," said Janice, noting family and friends will be in attendance. "Very, very excited."

"We need to learn new country songs," said the sisters.

"They're going to do their Canadian Kid song, and we're going through some songs with Alison and Darrin (Schott)," said Mike. "It'll be country songs. And Hannah will have a new mandolin. I think one we really like so far is Travellin' Soldier, so they can dedicate something to Canadian troops. "

cabbott@postmedia.com