Entertainment venues, activities and events located throughout the Nicola Valley and Merritt BC Canada.

Empty Keg Brew House your relaxed, family friendly, and socially responsible place.

Photo courtesy of EKBH.

At some point in our lives, we find ourselves in a situation when a decision is required if we want to move forward.

Empty Keg Brew House – Have you been in a situation that you prefer to delay instead of making a decision because you are not sure of the outcome? In general, it is normal to be concerned when we do not know how things will turn out.

Empty Keg Brew House – Starting your own business.

It is well known that starting a business is not easy nor is it for everyone.  In my opinion, most people have had a business idea in mind at some point in their lives. Throughout my employment as a business analyst, I have learned that every entrepreneur encounters roadblocks that slow them down or completely prevent them from starting their own business. On the other hand, I have dealt with clients that take all these roadblocks as learning opportunities along the way in their entrepreneurial path. Working with Kyle Hall of Empty Keg Brew House has taught me a way to deal with common issues in a more productive way while working on opening a business.

Build a case for Empty Keg Brew House.

Kyle and Kelly Hall are the owners and operators of our newest microbrewery in Merritt, BC, Canada called Empty Keg Brew House. While gathering more information to work on this story, I had the opportunity to learn more about the origins of Kyle’s business, and I am happy to share hoping that Kyle’s story will encourage you to take action and work on that business idea you have set aside. The fact is, there is never a bad time to launch a business if you have identified the need of your product or service.

the Rhubarb and Raspberry patch! Photo courtesy of EKBH.

Where did the idea of starting a microbrewery come from?

About 27 years ago the idea of brewing beer crossed Kyle’s mind. With only making $5.50 per hour to support his family back then, it was all about making cheap beer.  As a beer enthusiast, Kyle had never been to school for brewing, but instead he learned as he went. Kyle moved from extract to partial grain then full grain. Much to the delight of his family, that venture never took off, but his passion for beer continued to blossom. 5 years ago, Kyle remembers sitting around the table with his family and friends when someone suddenly said, “If you ever open a brewery, you will never be able to keep your kegs full”. Hence, the name Empty Keg Brew House.

Questions of a small business?

As any other entrepreneur, Kyle questioned himself: should we open a microbrewery? Could we open a microbrewery? When the opportunity came a few years later; he did not hesitate to seize it. He decided to move forward with his business idea. For that Kyle decided to further his skills in brewing, as a result, he completed the Master Beer Brewing Certificate in 2015.
Kyle envisioned creating a place where locals and visitors could enjoy various types of locally brewed beers made from as many local ingredients as possible.

Photo courtesy of EKBH.

Getting into the Craft Beer industry.

If you think the most difficult part of starting a business is taking the crucial first step, you are wrong. Just wait to learn all the different licenses and regulations you must obtain to move forward within your specific industry. I remember Kyle working hard to get his variance rezoning approved. He also had to apply for his manufacturer and lounge endorsement licenses. It was not just applying for a permit or license; it was starting over and making changes so that your application can move forward to the next phase and waiting to see if there was any other requirement at the end of the day. Many entrepreneurs ask themselves at this phase, how much longer will it take to get their licenses? They always want it to go faster to stay within their milestones.

Grand Opening July 3, 2019

What was your experience at the Grand Opening?

For most people, a grand opening can be a powerful way to launch your new business. It creates awareness and generates a buzz about your new product or service offered in your community. When I asked Kyle about his own experience after all the hurdles he had gone through, his answer was: “We were scared out of our minds.” By the end of the soft opening he recalls asking himself – “What have we gotten ourselves into? It was a whirlwind that seemed so overwhelming. We worked against a tight deadline to be ready for the big date. I was lucky to count on my wife Kelly, my daughter, my nephew and other family members and friends who helped with the renovations until the day prior to the opening.”

experience merritt

My experience during the first months in business.

Before starting your own business, you work on financial projections and cash flow based on market research. As part of this market research, you determine your target market, but it is not until you are running your business you realize how close your projections are to your actuals. While determining his target market, Kyle looked at college age and up to maybe 45-50, but they have a wide range of friends that come in. The typical attitude on presenting the idea of a local Brew House was “we don’t need another bar in town”. But Empty Keg Brew House is a place where you can go and socialize, hang out, play some games while you have a beer, glass of wine or coffee.

‘Give-Back Wednesday’ donation went to NVSSS Housing First. Photo courtesy of EKBH.

What is Empty Keg Brew House 5 year vision?

Kyle would like to continue to do what they are doing now. They have focused on a “Give back Wednesday”, which is a way for the customers and the Keg to give back to local non-profit organizations. It is very well received; it is contributing to help local organizations who are playing a key component for the betterment of our social, economic, environmental, and cultural conditions of the Nicola Valley. As mentioned by Kyle “We would like to continue helping these organizations on a monthly basis. On the first Wednesdays of the month we “Give Back” a portion of our sales to local non-profit organizations. Although, Empty Keg does not have a Kitchen, they do offer appetizers and they support other eating establishments by allowing food from those approved sources to accompany the beers they offer. For example, they have Yaki Joe’s Pizza right next door and clients often bring in food from there and have a beer when they are hanging out with their family and friends.

Photo courtesy of EKBH.

What is your favorite thing about being a business owner?

Running a small business can be very rewarding, but as I said before it’s not for everyone. There are easier ways to make a living. Are all the long hours, hard work and sacrifice worth it? It sounds like it. According to Forbes, 90 percent of survey respondents say they would do it again and 65% say they are better off financially than if they’d remained someone else’s employee.

Kyle and Kelly have worked very hard to be able to open their brew house. They have dealt with parking variance rezoning, manufacturers licensing requirements, inspections and much more. I would not be able to calculate how much sweat equity Kyle and Kelly have put into their business. For every setback they experienced while working on their business, their commitment and dedication became stronger than ever.

Merritt’s Kitchen Party.

As Kyle said “There are so many things to do, we can do whatever we wish to, the two captains (he was referring to himself and his wife Kelly) can steer the ship wherever we want. It is rewarding to see smiles on everyone’s faces when they are enjoying not only the product but the atmosphere. People say this is a great place. We’ve had a lot of visitors from out of town say that our space reminds them of a “Kitchen Party””.

Empty Keg Brew House is a small scale micro Brewery.

Empty Keg Brew House is a small scale micro Brewery located in Merritt. This Brewery has recently opened their doors in our community offering locally made craft beer. A great place where locals and visitors can enjoy various types of in-house brewed beers made from local ingredients.

If you have not visited this place, I encourage you to stop by and enjoy some of their offerings. With more than eight unique beers on tap, Empty Keg offers a variety of options that include Kilt Lifter Scottish 80, Scared the Dark Stout, Blond Ale and many more.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Empty Keg Brew House
2190 Voght St, Merritt, BC V1K 1C1
(250) 315-2337

www.emptykegbrewhouse.ca

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Merritt, British Columbia, Canada bee

merritt muralRandy Travis – American Country Music Superstar

Grand Ole Opry Inductee Randy Travis Featured On The Walls Of The Merritt, BC Mural Walk

The First Chapter Of An Extraordinary Life

Randy Travis, is an American country music superstar and Christian country music singer, songwriter, guitarist, and actor.

Travis was born on May 4, 1959 in Marshville, North Carolina, USA as Randy Bruce Traywick. The second of six children  of Harold Traywick (the owner of a construction company and farmer, as well as a substitute teacher) and Bobbie Traywick (a textile factory worker).

 “My dad was always a big country music fan, so we grew up listening to a lot of the old stuff. Hank Williams and Patsy Cline were probably his favorites.”(Ricky Traywick)

Randy Travis and Brother Rick

Randy Travis and Rick

Randy Travis grew up with the family name of Traywick and was the younger brother of Ricky Traywick by two years. Growing up in the Traywick home there were no shortage of musical influences and encouragement. Listening to music wasn’t the only influence he and his brother had. “Actually, their dad took them to guitar lessons together. Afterwards, they would go home and “jam” in the den, learning from each other. They would take turns playing lead and rhythm, always trying to out play each other.“

Learning to play the guitar at the age of 8, he started singing in the Church of Christ choir. For the next 2 years he and his brother Ricky performed as the Traywick Brothers at local clubs as well as entering talent contests. He would become a solo entertainer in 1969.

Randy Travis Early Years

Randy Travis

Troubles In The First Chapter

The next few years would be troublesome for Travis. Although his father encouraged his pursuit of music. The two often quarreled, which in part was a contributing factor in Randy dropping out of school.

Now as a solo singer he would continue to perform. Performing in tough venues where acts would be protected from the audience by chain link fence.

As a teenager Randy’s love of country music was matched only, by his increasing experimentation of alcohol and drugs. Soon Travis was drinking excessively and using drugs. He has been open about his troubled teen years, telling Newsweek that he began drinking at 12 and using drugs at 14.

“Sometimes a lot harder drugs, but at least marijuana every day,” he admitted. “I think all that was part of why I got into so much trouble. Because I drank so much and did so many drugs that it was like it wasn’t me. It was like another person was in control. Nobody can handle that kind of abuse. You go crazy, you’re not mentally in control. I’m just thankful that cocaine wasn’t around when I was going through my bad time. I’d have probably died. I’d have probably killed myself with it.” (Randy Travis to Newsweek)

By this time he had dropped out of school and briefly held a job as a construction worker. Over the next few years. Randy was in and out of trouble. Arrested for assault, breaking and entering as well as other misdemeanor charges.

The Start Of A Slow Turnaround

Randy Travis was a kid with a golden voice and a habit of making trouble when he was discovered in his home state of North Carolina in the late 1970s.

In 1975, Randy won a talent contest in Country City USA a nightclub in, Charlotte, North Carolina. The club owner, Elizabeth “Lib Hatcher” took an interest in the young singer. She hired him as a cook and gave him regular singing gigs at the club.

Still in his late teens, Randy had one more run in with the law. At his hearing, Hatcher seeing promise in his music convinced the judge to let her become Randy’s legal guardian. Hatcher spent the next few years grooming Randy. The two began to focus on his career full time.

In 1978, he recorded a self-titled album, Randy Traywick, for Paula Records. One single from the album, “She’s My Woman”, spent four weeks on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts.

Travis moved in with Hatcher, which put further strain on her already fragile marriage. She eventually left her husband and, in 1982, she and Travis moved to Nashville, Tennessee. Hatcher became manager of the Nashville Palace, a tourist-oriented club near the Grand Ole Opry. Randy performed as “Randy Ray” in the club as well as worked as their short order cook.

During this time an unlikely romance began to form between Travis and Hatcher. Travis and Hatcher eventually came forward with their relationship. They married in a private ceremony in 1991.

Travis would later comment, “I think we discovered how much we needed each other.” (Randy Travis)

Randy and Elizabeth Travis

Randy and Elizabeth

Chapter Two The Complete Beginning To The Rise Of Fame

Travis was rejected by every major record label in Nashville in the early 1980’s. Labelled and criticized by record executives, he was passed over by Warner Brothers twice as being “too country”. He would become a pivotal figure in the history of country music, including positioning as a major force in the neo traditional country movement.

 Warner Bros. senior vice president Martha Sharp went to the Palace to hear “Randy Ray” perform in 1985 and offered him a contract on the spot.

“I loved his voice,” she told the Los Angeles Times. “But I knew I was going to get a lot of guff. The prevailing opinion at that time was that he was too country, nothing that country would work. Still, my gut told me to go ahead.” (Martha Sharp)

Martha Sharp with Faith Hill

Martha Sharp and Faith Hill (An Older Picture)

The first thing Sharp did was change Randy Traywick’s stage name to Randy Travis. Then she encouraged him to focus on his strengths—especially his robust but edgy voice and the vein of irony that helped temper his more sentimental songs.

After being told he was too traditional, “On the Other Hand” released in 1985 only reached number 67 on the charts. Despite the disappointing review of “On The Other Hand”, Warner released “1982” which became a top ten the same year.  Randy Travis quickly became the hottest young country artist in America. He was adored by fans of contemporary and traditional country.

In 1986, both songs appeared on Travis’s album Storms Of Life, which secured a place at No. 1 for eight weeks and sold over five million copies.

Randy Travis was well on his way of marking a generational shift in country music.

Chapter Three Continuing To The Rise Of Fame Throughout The “1980’s”

In 1986, Warner Bros. re-released “On the Other Hand”, and the re-release became Travis’s first No. 1 single on the chart.

Travis’s first album, Storms of Life, was released by Warner Bros. in June of 1986 with anticipated sales of 20,000 units. By the end of the year it had sold more than a million copies and yielded four hit singles: “1982,” “On the Other Hand,” “Diggin’ Up Bones,” and “Reasons I Cheat. “On the Other Hand”, “Diggin’ Up Bones”, and “No Place Like Home” were all co-written by Paul Overstreet.

Randy Travis

Randy Travis

Storms helped the world recognize, Randy Travis was no longer a secret.  The Album earned him The Country Music Association’s  Horizon Award now known as (New Artist Of The Year Award).

“Diggin’ Up Bones” also won Travis his first Grammy Award in 1986, for Best Male Vocal Country Performance. “Storms of Life” received its highest Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) sales certification in 1992, when it was certified triple-platinum for shipments of 3 million copies.  The album’s producer was Kyle Lehning, who would also produce nearly all of Travis’s subsequent albums. In December 1986, Travis became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. He was the youngest inductee at the age of 28 to be inducted into the Grand Ole Opry.

When his Storms of Life came out in 1986, country music was still wallowing in the post-urban cowboy recession, chasing elusive crossover dreams. Travis brought the music back to its basics, sounding like a perfect blend of George Jones and Merle Haggard.

The Hits and Awards Keep Coming

He became the dominant male voice in country until the rise of “hat acts” like Garth Brooks and Clint Black, releasing seven consecutive number one singles during one stretch. He won the CMA’s Horizon Award in 1986 and was the association’s Male Vocalist of the Year in 1987 and 1988.

During the early years Travis and his band travelled to concerts in a converted bread truck, equipment was hauled in a van and horse trailer. By the beginning of 1987, the Travis entourage, still managed by Hatcher—traveled in the comfort of a $500,000 bus. Hatcher also found Travis a publicist, who signed the engaging young singer to some unlikely television appearances, including one on the rock-oriented Saturday Night Live.

His second album, Always and Forever, sold well over three million copies and remained at the Number One position on the country charts for a record 43 weeks. The release’s most popular hit single, “Forever and Ever, Amen” was named favorite country single of 1987 by both the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music. Always & Forever won Travis his second Grammy for Best Male Country Vocal Performance in 1987.

Randy’s third album, “I Told You So” was issued in July 1988. Its first three singles, “Honky Tonk Moon”, “Deeper Than the Holler”, and “Is It Still Over?”, all reached No. 1 as well, while “Promises” was less successful at No. 17. The album achieved its highest RIAA certification of double-platinum in 1996. This was followed by Travis’s first Christmas album, “An Old Time Christmas”, late in 1989.

Closing Off The Decade Of The 1980’s

In 1989, Travis recorded a cover of “It’s Just a Matter of Time”, which was originally recorded by Brook Benton thirty years prior. Travis cut the song for a multi-artist tribute album titled Rock, Rhythm & Blues which was also released by Warner Brothers, and persuaded the label to include it on what would become his fourth Warner album, No Holdin’ Back.

Travis’s version of the song, produced by Richard Perry (who also provided bass vocals on it), was the lead single to that album, and charted at No. 1 on Hot Country Songs in December 1989.  Two more singles were released from No Holdin’ Back: “Hard Rock Bottom of Your Heart”, which became Travis’s longest-lasting No. 1 single at four weeks in 1990, and “He Walked on Water”, which peaked at No. 3. The album included one other cover song, “Singing the Blues”, along with the track “Somewhere in My Broken Heart”, co-written and later recorded by Billy Dean.

Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame

Randy Travis’s Part In Neotraditional Country

Classic Travis material and carefully crafted vocal delivery, helped bring neotraditionalism to the forefront of country music. New (or “neo-“) traditionalism looked to the elders of country music like Ernest Tubb, Hank Williams, Kitty Wells and George Jones for inspiration, and was a precursor to the more general categorization known as new country.

Randy Travis 2003

Randy Travis

The 1980s and ’90s were the time for a new, yet old, take on country music, neotraditional country. Randy Travis, Alan Jackson, George Strait, Patty Loveless, and Marty Stuart, among others, were all ambassadors of the down-to-earth brand of music. Which drew on traditional bluegrass sounds and down-home themes.

Neotraditional country, also known as new traditional country, is a country music style that emphasizes the instrumental background and a “traditional” country vocal style. Typical instruments – Guitar · Steel Guitar · Dobro · Harmonica · Bass · Fiddle · Drums · Banjo  and the Mandolin.

Travis came from the same neotraditional background as George Straight, especially on his album “Storms Of Life”. The album marked a milestone as the first debut album to sell one million albums.

Like Straight, Travis removed the undesirable elements attributed to the drinking, honky-tonk approach found with the outlaw artists. He was still able to personify a traditional country style.

Along with country pop and country rock, neotraditional country remains one of the veins of country music that holds mainstream popularity in the mid-2010s.

Chapter Four Acting and Music During The 1990’s

In the 1990s, Travis took on an acting career. He won roles in the made-for-TV movies Dead Man’s Revenge (1994) and Steel Chariots (1997). He made appearances on some of TV’s most popular series, including Touched By an Angel, Frasier and Sabrina, the Teenage Witch.  Travis landed supporting roles in the feature films The Rainmaker (1997), T.N.T. (1998) and The Million Dollar Kid (1999).

Randy Travis-Million Dollar Kid

Million Dollar Kid

In addition to his acting efforts, Travis’s music career continued to thrive with the release of Full Circle (1996), You And You Alone (1998) and A Man Ain’t Made Out Of Stone (1999).

Travis’s sixth studio album, Heroes & Friends, consisted almost entirely of duets. It produced two singles: “A Few Ole Country Boys” (featuring George Jones) and the title track, also the only solo cut on the album. Both made top 10 on the country music charts in 1991. Other featured artists included B. B. King and Clint Eastwood. “We’re Strangers Again”, a duet with Tammy Wynette. Written by Merle Haggard and Leona Williams. The rendition by Travis and Wynette later appeared on the latter’s Best Loved Hits compilation for Epic Records, who issued it as a single in August 1991.

More Music In The 1990″s

In 1991, Travis took part in “Voices That Care”, a multi-artist project that featured other top names in music for a one-off single to raise money for the allied troops in the Gulf War.

The project included fellow singers Garth Brooks, Kenny Rogers, and Kathy Mattea. In addition, Travis recorded the patriotic song “Point of Light” in response to the Thousand points of light program initiated by George H. W. Bush.

This song was also the lead single to his seventh Warner album, High Lonesome. This album produced three more singles, all of which Travis co-wrote with fellow country singer Alan Jackson. “Forever Together”, “Better Class of Losers”, and “I’d Surrender All”.

Warner Bros. released two volumes of a Greatest Hits package in September 1992: Greatest Hits, Volume 1 and Greatest Hits, Volume 2. One single from each compilation made No. 1 that year: “If I Didn’t Have You” from Volume 1, and “Look Heart, No Hands” from Volume 2.

Also released from Volume 1 was “An Old Pair of Shoes”, which charted at No. 21. Later in 1992, Travis cut the album Wind in the Wire, a disc of cowboy-inspired Western music intended to accompany a television movie of the same name in which Travis appeared.

Wind In Wire Randy Travis

Randy Travis

This disc was his first not to produce any Top 40 country singles. Due to Wind in the Wire and other TV movies in which he starred, Travis took a hiatus from recording and touring for most of 1993. He later told Billboard magazine that “There seems to be this perception that I’ve completely quit”.

Music Keeps Charting In The 1990’s

Lehning remarked of Travis’s ninth album, This Is Me, that the singer seemed “reinvigorated”, while Travis himself said that the songs on it seemed more “rowdy” than those on previous albums.

Four singles from this album made the charts: “Before You Kill Us All”, “Whisper My Name” (which peaked at No. 1 in 1994), the title track, and “The Box”. His last album for Warner was 1996’s Full Circle. Which featured the singles “Are We in Trouble Now”, “Would I”, and “Price to Pay”. The last of which failed to reach the country top 40.

Also in 1996, Travis covered Roger Miller’s “King of the Road” for the soundtrack to Traveler. This rendition, issued by Asylum Records, spent 15 weeks on the country charts despite only peaking at No. 51.

Travis signed to Dream Works Records in 1998, where he issued “You and You Alone”. For this album, Travis co-produced with Byron Gallimore (best known for his work with Tim McGraw) and James Stroud.

You Alone Randy Travis

Randy Travis You And You Alone

Featured artists on the disc included Vince Gill, Alison Krauss, and Melba Montgomery. Actor Patrick Swayze also contributed backing vocals on the track “I Did My Part”. Its singles were “Out of My Bones”, “The Hole”, “Spirit of a Boy, “Wisdom of a Man” and “Stranger in My Mirror”.

His only other DreamWorks album, A Man Ain’t Made of Stone, followed in 1999. Also co-produced by Stroud and Gallimore, it produced a Top 20 hit in its title track. Three other singles all failed to make top 40.

Balance – The Silver Lining And Inspirational Journey in The 2000″s

Travis’s career from 2000 onward was dominated by Christian country music. His first full album in the genre, 2000’s Inspirational Journey, was issued via Word Records.

One cut from this album, “Baptism”, was originally recorded by Kenny Chesney as a duet with Travis on Chesney’s 1999 album Everywhere We Go. The version appearing on Inspirational Journey, a solo rendition by Travis, charted at No. 75 on the country charts in late 2000. Following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Travis recorded the patriotic song “America Will Always Stand”, which charted via distribution from Relentless Records.

Travis’s most successful venture in Christian country music was “Three Wooden Crosses”. Released in December 2002 as the lead single to his album Rise and Shine, that song became his sixteenth and final No. 1 single in early 2003. It was followed by Worship & Faith, consisting mostly of gospel standards, in 2003. This album earned an RIAA gold certification three years after its release.

Merritt BC Murals Selfie Photo

“Passing Through”, came next which accounted for his last solo chart entries in “Four Walls” and “Angels”. “Glory Train”, Songs of Faith, Worship, and Praise in 2005 also consisted largely of gospel covers. While his second Christmas album, Songs of the Season, followed in 2007.

“A lot of people don’t pay attention to the fact that his first album sold three million copies,” Ray marvels about Travis. “He’s the first solo male artist to ever sell three million copies in the history of the genre. He single-handedly turned this genre around and he has legends like Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson, George Strait, going, ‘If it wasn’t for Randy Travis I don’t know if I’d be where I am right now.” (Michael Ray)

A Return To The Country Roots

Around the Bend in 2008 returned Travis to a traditional country style, coinciding with a return to Warner Bros. Nashville. Stephen Thomas Erlewine noted of Travis’s career in the preceding years that his turn to Christian music “was fruitful, producing a series of good, heartfelt records. They also included a nice side effect of putting commercialism way on the back burner. The gospel albums were made without the charts in mind. While adding that “Around the Bend “stands apart from trends, not defiantly but comfortably.” In 2009, Carrie Underwood covered “I Told You So” with Travis on duet vocals, and this collaborative version charted at No. 2 on the country charts. Travis released two more cover albums in 2013 and 2014. Influence Vol. 1, “The Man I Am”, and Influence Vol. 2, “The Man I Am”.

Randy Travis and Carrie Underwood

Randy Travis and Carrie Underwood

Merritt Mountain Music Festival Performance July 2006 And The Randy Travis Mural Featured On The Wall Of The Merritt, BC Mural Walk

The crowd is at capacity with high expectations. Randy Travis is one of the most influential voices in country music. When Travis was introduced and walked on stage the entire crowd stood up.

“I am just a good ol’ country boy at heart and down right human”!(Randy Travis)

There just is no other voice quite like Randy’s and as soon as he began to make a sound you knew who it was! Randy is at his most creative, energetic and exuberant. His performance was warm, funny and engaging. He was at home with his audience and performing at his best.

The audience was lively, responsive and engaged in his every move. There was a feeling of genuineness and love that he has for his music and his fans. For Randy, it is not being a star or a performer. It is the flood of love outpouring from his fans and the enjoyment of being able to be with them and entertain them that is the inspiration for him to keep going.

The crowd was attentive and mesmerized throughout the show. However, broke into a roar when he started singing his closing song “Forever And Ever Amen”.

It was a an overall performance delivered in fine fashion. Capturing his wonderful talented voice as well as his boyish charm and appeal. It was definitely a show to remember. (Claude Lelievre-Merritt Mountain Music Festival)

Randy Music Festival

Randy Travis

‘We Can’t Save Him…Pull the Plug’

Randy Travis has sold more than 25 million albums, earned seven Grammy Awards, and toured the world. In 2013 he suffered a massive stroke that left him paralyzed on one side, limiting his speech and ability to do what he loves most: sing and perform.

As a result of the stroke, Travis had lost his ability to speak and had difficulty walking, but in the years since, has been making progress on both counts as well as relearning how to play the guitar and sing.

Earlier in 2013, Travis became engaged to Mary Davis. The couple married in 2015. Six years on from Randy’s massive stroke, Mary says the experience has taught the couple a lot about love, perseverance, and patience.

Randy Travis and Wife Mary

Randy and Mary married

“You learn to love each other and adore each other in a way that was far beyond what you thought was possible. So we learned a lot about love. There wasn’t anything that I feel like was going to tear us apart.” (Mary Travis)

With Randy unable to speak much, Mary does most of the talking for her husband.

He’s highly septic, with a staph infection we can’t get in control and it’s replicating. As well as other hospital born bacteria, collapsed lungs, chest tubes, he was intubated. He had a tracheostomy, and his skull was still off.

“There was just so many things working against him but there was a couple things working for him and that was God Almighty and that was His will.” (Mary Travis)

The Decision

Mary asked Randy if he wanted to keep fighting in a partial comatose state. “That’s when that tear fell. And he squeezed my hand and we hadn’t got that much out of him in weeks. So I knew then that he knew what was going on. I also know that he wanted to fight,” she adds.

Randy Travis Hall of Fame Inductee

Randy Travis at induction in to Country Music Hall Of Fame.

During his induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2016, Randy surprised the audience and fans by performing “Amazing Grace” — his first public performance since his stroke three years earlier.

“I don’t think there was a dry eye in the place. I still get emotional when I think about it.” (Mary says, tearing up)

It was noted in 2017, that Travis had suffered permanent damage. It disabled his right hand and has limited much of his speech and singing ability. Travis continues to make public appearances but no longer sings. Mainly because of his apprehension about his ability to do it as well as he used to.

Randy appeared on-stage with Michael Ray during a cover performance of “Forever and Ever Amen” in June 2017, to which Travis contributed the final “Amen.”

He did the same during his 60th birthday party, thrown by the Grand Ole Opry on May 4, 2019.

Randy Travis A Must See Attraction On The Walls Of The Merritt, BC Mural Walk

Visit downtown Merritt in the beautiful Nicola Valley, Merritt, BC and take part in the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame, Merritt, BC Mural Walk. The Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame includes Hall of Fame Inductees as well as CCMA Award Winning Artists.

randy travis mural in merritt

Experience Nicola Valley Blogger Melvina White – Mural painted by Michelle Loughery

True country music fans will want to start the downtown mural tour at Merritt’s National Attraction. The Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame, situated on Quilchena Avenue in The Country Music Capital of Canada.

The Merritt, BC Mural Project created in 2005, became a successful program called, the “Merritt Youth Mural Project”. The project, designed for working with local young artists and “ youth at risk”. Merritt Murals were painted by muralist Michelle Loughery.

Randy Travis mural can be found on the wall of The Adelphi Hotel at 2101 Quilchena Avenue.

Travis Forges Ahead, Seeking New Ways to Sustain His Career After Stroke

Randy Travis‘ new memoir, Forever and Ever, Amen: A Memoir of Music, Faith and Braving the Storms of Life, takes readers on a journey through some of the singer’s darkest moments and most difficult challenges.

While Travis admits that parts of the book were difficult to relive, there were also aspects of his past that he loved going back to and revisiting.

“Mary’s commitment to me has been truly astounding,” Travis writes in his memoir. “I was healthy, in fantastic physical condition, and a highly successful country star when we fell in love. But she married me after I had been incapacitated by a stroke, knowing full well what she was getting herself into. That was a major commitment — a commitment of love.”

Travis has enjoyed many “pinch me” moments over the course of his career, earning a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame to his induction into the Grand Ole Opry. He  has never stopped feeling humble and grateful regarding his accolades, and that humility continues to help his fans relate to him.

“There’s lots of joy,” says Mary. “There’s lots of silver linings, even in the clouds.”

experiencemerritt

The information for this article was obtained from Wikipedia and Randy Travis-Singer, Guitarist, Songwriter-Biography

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George Jones

Country Music Legendary Icon Mural In The Nicola Valley

George Jones Featured On The Walls of The Merritt BC Downtown Murals

Merritt BC Canada Murals

George Jones’ career began in 1954. During his six decades as a professional singer-songwriter, he achieved international fame for his long list of hit records, as well as his distinctive voice.

Jones was frequently referred to as the greatest country voice in the history of country music. He had the ability to immerses himself completely into the lyrics, and convey many emotions while drawing in the listener,  letting them feel the emotions like they were living them. He could make you cry with a single note or a simple phrasing.

“It’s never been for love of money. I thank God for it because it makes me a living. But I sing because I love it, not because of the dollar signs.” (George Jones)

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George Jones and Some Hard Times

George Jones Born on Sept 12, 1931 in a log cabin, on an oil patch settlement in a remote Texas region known as the Big Thicket and was raised in Saratoga Texas.

Jones was the eighth child of George Washington Jones, a pipe fitter and shipyard worker who played guitar and harmonica. Clara Jones his mother a church pianist, played piano in the Pentecostal Church on Sundays.

The sounds of gospel and country music dominated the modest household — and the abusive rages of George’s father, who turned to alcohol to drown his pain when his sister died from a fever.

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“We were our Daddy’s loved ones when he was sober, his prisoners when he was drunk,” the singer wrote in his 1996 autobiography, “I Lived to Tell the Tale.”

First Step To A Journey

Born in to poverty he became one of the most financially successful country music artists ever. George got his first guitar from his father at the age of nine. He learned to play it at church.

From poverty beginnings and playing on street corners to Nudie Suits and sold out shows. George never ceased to amaze those listening.

 At 11-years-old, Jones started making money as a guitar player and singer in front of a local church.

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The influence of Hank Williams’ songs, heartache as well as  joy, and the honky-tonk songs of Ernest Tubb became a major source of inspiration for George.

Hank Williams and Lefty Frizzell, heavily influenced George in his formative years. Jones quickly adopted the twisting and turning of syllables, words and phrases, of Lefty Frizzell.

Second Step To The On Going Journey

After his divorce to Dorothy Bonvillion whom he had a daughter with. George did a stint in the United states Marine Corp from 1951 – 1953. He was inactive 1954 –  1956 and officially discharged in 1956.

Merritt BC Murals Selfie Photo

During his Military service he was stationed in in San Jose California. He was able to satisfy his passion by singing and performing in all the local bars.

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Discovered by “Pappy Daily”, co-owner of Starday Records Jones signed with the label in 1953. A partnership that lasted for years, Daily also became Jones producer and manager.

Jones first single “No Money In This Deal” released in 1954 received no attention. Three more singles released that year failed to gain any notice.

Shirley Ann Corley became George’s second wife in 1954, with whom he had two sons. The marriage endured ups and downs until it fell apart for good in 1968.

George Jones – The Voice Of An Angel

“George Jones was an imperfect man with a perfect voice. He lived like a devil and sang like an angel.” (Ian Crouch New Yorker)

“Why Baby Why” hit the charts in 1955. This was the beginning of Jones positioning himself as one of the most influential singers in country music history. He would become the master of romantic disillusionment that would become his artistic signature.

Jones was on the road to success. Daily secured him a spot on “The Louisiana Hayride”, where he was co-billed with “Elvis Presley” and “Johnny Cash”.

Louisiana Hayride

George Jones and Johnny Cash

He would never leave the top of the country charts, even though his personal life and professional life would suffer continual turmoil.

After joining The Grand Ole Opry in 1956. He would produce a number of hits in the next decade, including “White Lightning,” “She Thinks I Still Care,” and “The Race Is On.”

George released “White Lightening” in May of  1959. It would be his first number-1 single of his career. Staying at number-one for five weeks the song remained on the charts closing out the decade.

Travels Of The Singing Angel Continue

A part of Jones career that is often overlooked is his success as a songwriter. He wrote or co-wrote many of his biggest hits. Jones most favourite song writing collaborator was his childhood friend “Darrell Edwards.”

Famed artists recorded songs written or co -written with George Jones. “Window Up Above” was a smash hit for Mickey Gilley.

“Seasons of My Heart” written by Jones and Darrell Edwards (a hit for Johnny Cash, and recorded by Willie Nelson as well as Jerry Lee Lewis.

Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame

“You Gotta Be My Baby” and “Don’t Stop The Music” on his own and co-wrote “Color of the Blues” ( by Loretta Lynn and Elvis Costello), “Tender Years” and “Tall, Tall Trees” (co-written with Roger Miller). (Wikipedia)

Jones signed with United Artists in 1962 and scored one of the biggest hits of his career, “She Thinks I Still Care”. His voice had grown deeper during this period and carved the singing style that became uniquely his own.

George cut an album of duets with Melba Montgomery, including the hit “We Must Have Been Out Of Our Minds”. Jones was also well on his way to gaining a reputation as a notorious hell-raiser. (Wikipedia)

On tour Jones was always backed by the ‘Jones Boys’. Johnny Paycheck was the ‘Jones Boys’ bass player in the 1960’s before going on to his own stardom in the 1970s.

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In 1964, Pappy Daily secured a new contract with Musicor records. For the rest of the 1960s, Jones would score only one number one (1967’s “Walk Through This World With Me”) but he practically owned the country music charts throughout the decade.  A number of significant hits include “Love Bug”, 1964’s “The Race Is On”, as well as the 1969 duet album with Gene Pitney.

Nearing The End of The 60’s Decade

Jones’ binge drinking and use of amphetamines on the road caught up to him in 1967 and he had to be admitted into a neurological hospital to seek treatment for his drinking.

Jones would go to extreme lengths for a drink. The most famous drinking story concerning Jones occurred while he was married to his second wife Shirley Corley.

Jones recalled Shirley making it physically impossible for him to travel to Beaumont, located 8 miles away, to buy liquor. Because Jones would not walk that far, she would hide the keys to each of their cars. She did not, however, hide the keys to the lawn mower. Upset, Jones walked to the window and looked out over his property. He later described his thoughts in his memoir:

“There, gleaming in the glow, was that ten-horsepower rotary engine and under a seat, a key glistening in the ignition. I imagine the top speed for that old mower was five miles per hour. It might have taken an hour and a half or more for me to get to the liquor store, but get there I did.” (George Jones)

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 Jones closed out the 1960’s decade with  solo efforts as well as collaborations receiving enthusiastic responses. He married Tammy Wynette and was ready for the next decade and what a decade it would be.

George And Tammy The Reigning King And Queen of Country

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Jones wrote: “I felt rage fly all over me. I jumped from my chair, put my hands under the dinner table, and flipped it over. Dishes, utensils, and glasses flew in all directions. (Auto Biography)

Jones and Wynette met because their tours were booked by the same agency and their paths sometimes crossed.  Wynette was married to songwriter Don Chapel, who was also the opening act for her shows at the time. The three became friends.

Jones went to their house for supper and while she was fixing the meal Wynette and Chapel got into a heated exchange with Chapel calling his wife “a son of a bitch”. See quote.

“After the table flip, Don and Tammy’s eyes got about as big as the flying dinner plates.” Jones professed his love for Wynette on the spot and the couple were married in February, 1969.

Nearing The End With Musicor

At about the same time George and Tammy married. George was unhappy with the sound of his Musicor records and tensions were building between Jones and producer Pappy Daily. Jones blamed Daily for his sound and left Musicor. He had to fulfill his contract with Musicor before they would let him sever all ties.

Pappy Daily Manager

Pappy Daily and George Jones

In the middle of 1971 Jones severed all ties with Musicor and Daily. He signed away all his rights to the Musicor recordings and signed with Epic in October 1971. Billy Sherrill at Epic Records became Jones producer.

Jones and Wynette became known as “Mr. & Mrs. Country Music” in the early 1970s, scoring several big hits.

Kicking Off A Successful Career At Epic

Sherrill and business partner Glenn Sutton are rumored as the defining influences of the countrypolitan sound. A smooth mix of pop and country music that was popular during the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s. A far cry from George’s honky tonk roots.

Billy Sherrill was known for his string-laden productions and his precise, aggressive approach in the studio. Under his direction, musicians were there to obey his orders and that included singers. Jones was accustomed to the relaxed style of Dally, the complete opposite of Sherrill. As a result, they got off to a shaky start. The pair soon developed a fruitful working relationship. Sherrill turned Jones into a full-fledged balladeer.

Billy Sherrill Producer

Billy Sherrill-George Jones Producer

In Sherrill, Jones found the producer capable of creating the weepy arrangements his voice deserved and his torment demanded…He summoned for Jones the sighing strings that almost made the misery of albums like 1974’s The Grand Tour and 1976’s Alone Again sound better than happiness could possibly feel.

Unlike most singers, who might have been overwhelmed by the string arrangements and background vocalists. Jones’ voice, with its frightening intensity and lucid tone, could stand up to anything.

The success that Sherrill had with Jones proved to be his most longest-lasting association.

Jones and Wynette’s Turbulent Years

In October 1970, shortly after the birth of their only child Tamala Georgette, Jones was committed to The Watson Clinic in Lakeland, Florida. He was kept there to detoxify for 10 days before being released with a prescription for Librium.

Jones managed longer stretches of sobriety with Wynette than he had enjoyed in years. However, as the decade wore on the erratic behavior worsened.

One time I woke up at one o’clock in the morning to find George gone: “I got into the car and drove to the nearest bar 10 miles away. When I pulled into the parking lot there sat our rider-mower right by the entrance. He’d driven that mower right down a main highway… He looked up and saw me and said, ‘Well, fellas, here she is now. My little wife, I told you she’d come after me.”

Prior to his relationship with Tammy. Over the years, George earned his drinking and drugging reputation by living his songs. His personal life continued to spin out of control. His previous reputation as “No show Jones”, or showing up drunk would once again be his reputation until he quit drinking for good in 1999.

George and Tammy Early Years

George and Tammy Early Years

Jones and Wynette’s marriage started out with promise. They had great success with a number of their duets reaching the top ten. They both continued to do well on their own with Jones releasing several top charting singles. Tammy gave birth to their daughter at this time and by all appearances, all seemed to be well.

However behind the scenes George continued his battle with drugs and alcohol. The marriage was in trouble and would end once and for all on March 21, 1975.

Late 70’s Dark Times For Jones

In the late seventies, Jones spiraled out of control, falling apart both physically and mentally. A manager named Shug Baggot introduced him to cocaine before a show because he was too tired to perform.

Despite the severe abuse George continued to make interesting music. He began flirting with Rock and Roll, covering Chuck Berry’s “Maybellene” with Johnny Paycheck as well as recording a duet with James Taylor.

By February 1979 he was homeless, deranged, and destitute, living in his car. He weighed under a hundred pounds. It took him more than two years to complete My Very Special Guests, an album on which Willie Nelson, Linda Ronstadt, Elvis Costello, and other famous fans came to his vocal aid and support.

In June 1979, he appeared with Waylon Jennings on Ralph Emery’s syndicated radio program and at one point Jennings cracked, “It’s lonely at the top.” A laughing Jones replied, “It’s lonely at the bottom, too! It’s real, real lonely, Waylon.”

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Despite his unreliability, Jones was still capable of putting on a captivating live show. On Independence Day, 1976, he appeared at Willie Nelson’s Fourth of July Picnic in Gonzales, Texas in front of 80,000 younger, country-rock oriented fans. A nervous Jones felt out of his comfort zone and nearly bolted from the festival but went on anyway. He wound up stealing the show. The Houston Post wrote, “He was the undisputed star of this year’s Willie Nelson picnic…one of the greatest.”

Jones began missing more shows than he made, including a highly publicized date at the Bottom Line club in New York City. When he finally played the Bottom Line in 1980, the New York Times called him “the finest, most riveting singer in country music.”

The 80’s Comeback And Life Turnaround

It’s no secret that Jones had a long history of alcohol and cocaine abuse, as well as broken marriages that were punctuated by episodes of violence. After an enormous run of early success, by the late ’70s he was virtually washed up, having earned the nickname “No Show Jones” for his penchant of simply not showing up for planned performances.

In 1980, a 3-minute song changed his life. His long time producer, Billy Sherrill, recommended he record “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” a ballad by Curly Putnam and Bobby Braddock.

The song took more than a year to record, partly because Jones couldn’t master the melody, which he confused with Kris Kristofferson’s “Help Me Make it Through the Night,” and partly because he was too drunk to recite a brief, spoken interlude (“She came to see him one last time/And we all wondered if she would/And it kept running through my mind/This time he’s over her for good.”)

The last words Jones said about “He Stopped Loving Her Today” was “Nobody’ll buy that morbid son of a bitch”.

Although he had disliked “He Stopped Loving Her Today” when it was first offered to him, Jones ultimately gave the song credit for reviving his flailing career. Stating that “a four-decade career had been salvaged by a three-minute song”.

Love Conquers

His life changed after he met Nancy Sepulveda in 1981. After they married in 1983, the straight-laced Nancy Sepulvado Jones righted his messy finances, helped him address his drinking, kept his drug dealers at bay, and helped revive his ailing music career.

“I saw a lot of good in a man who was being totally destroyed.”

I’d heard the horror stories,” Nancy Jones disclosed to PEOPLE, “but I’m of the opinion you don’t believe it ’til you see it. I ended up seeing plenty of it, but we just clicked. I saw a lot of good in a man who was being totally destroyed.”

“They say love can change the world,” the country legend continued. “I’m here to testify that it changed one man. 

 

Thanks to Nancy’s love and guidance, George enjoyed career success once more with duets “Hallelujah, I Love You So” with Brenda Lee and “Size Seven Round (Made of Gold)” with Lacy J Dalton. As a solo recording artist, he enjoyed multiple popular singles from his 1985 album Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes and his last solo Top 10 country hit came with 1989’s “I’m a One Woman Man.”

Despite George’s career rebound, his still wrestled with his personal demons. “George was the sweetest man you could meet. But when George would drink, there was a devil that jumped inside of him,” Nancy admitted.

Ridding The Demon

In 1999, an impaired George Jones ran his SUV into a bridge near his home, suffering a lacerated liver and a severely bruised lung. After spending 13 days trapped in the hospital, he made a lasting deal with God.

“He said, ‘God if you let me get over this, I’ll never touch a cigarette or liquor again,’” Nancy reminisced. “I was warm all over. This time he meant it.”

That experience shook him enough to remain sober until his death from hypoxic respiratory failure on April 26, 2013. George and Nancy Jones celebrated 30 years of marriage before his passing at age 81.

“God put me with him to help him get the devil out of him,” his widow concluded. “God put me there to do a job and I did it.”

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Quotes about George Jones:

“When you look at all formats of music, George Jones is the most unique stylist, bar none” – B.B. King

“He is a true icon of country music. George Jones is to country music what Spencer Tracy is to movies. He is a true American folk-hero and we all love him.”

 –Burt Reynolds

“If we could all sing like we wanted to, we’d all sing like George Jones.” –Waylon Jennings

“Most people’s voices are a gift from God. With George Jones, I think it started out as a gift from God and then they built a body around it because anybody who has ever wanted to sing country music wants to sound like George Jones” – Garth Brooks

“I bask in the glow of having worked (read played) with George Jones. Gram Parsons must be smiling.” – Keith Richards

Jones Love of Traditional Country Music

“I sing top songs that fit the hardworking, everyday loving person. That’s what country music is about,” Jones said in a 1991 AP interview. “My fans and real true country music fans know I’m not a phony. I just sing it the way it is and put feeling in it if I can and try to live the song.” (George Jones)

Jones tirelessly defended the integrity of country music, telling Billboard in 2006. Jones also went out of his way to promote younger country singers that he felt were as passionate about the music as he was. “Everybody knows he’s a great singer,” Alan Jackson stated in 1995, “but what I like most about George is that when you meet him, he is like some old guy that works down at the gas station…even though he’s a legend!”

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Summing Up The Life Of George Glenn Jones A Country Music Legend

Battling his personal demons along the way, Jones amassed an impressive musical legacy that earned him a 2012 Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, among many other honors. He died in 2013, at the age of 81.

Jones recorded over 900 songs, and charted more than any other music artist, almost exclusively on the country charts; Jones never charted a hit in the general top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100 or any equivalent all-genre chart. As a solo artist, Jones had just three hits make the Billboard Hot 100, the highest-charted of which, “White Lightning”, peaked at number 73. A duet with Gene Pitney also made number 99 for one week. On the country charts, Jones (either solo or as part of duet) placed nearly 150 songs on the charts, including thirteen number 1 country hits.

Merritt Murals

George Jones – Country Music Blogger Melvina White. Painted by Michelle Loughery. Merritt Murals

There is no doubt that GEORGE JONES helped set the standard for modern country music. It is impossible to overstate his impact as one of the architects of the country music sound. 

George Jones Merritt Mountain Music Festival 1993

Thousands of country music fans were subjected to stormy, rainy conditions on the first and last day of the First Annual Merritt Mountain Music Festival in Merritt, BC.

Legendary country singer George Jones wrapped up the Merritt Mountain Music Festival on Sunday night, July 11, 1993, in front of thousands of die hard country fans who managed to stick it out through the rain.

The legend didn’t disappoint. He performed a show in Merritt, BC Canada that could have been on the stage of The Grand Ole Opry. George Jones was a real true hard core country entertainer and legend.

Merritt, BC Canada Mural Walk and Attractions

Visit downtown Merritt in the beautiful Nicola Valley, Merritt, BC Canada and take part in the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame Mural Walk. Although the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame includes Canadian Hall of Fame inductees as well as CCMA Award winning artists. The Hall of Fame is also the host of the Merritt, BC Mural Walk which also includes artists from Canada’s neighbours that have performed in Merritt at the infamous Merritt Mountain Music Festival.

Start the downtown mural tour at Merritt’s National Attraction. The Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame, situated on Quilchena Avenue in The Country Music Capital of Canada.

The Merritt Mural project was created in 2005. The Merritt, BC Murals were part of a successful program called, the “Merritt Youth Mural Project”. A project designed for working with local young artists and “youth at risk”. Merritt Murals were painted by muralist Michelle Loughery.

George Jones Mural can be found on the wall in Spirit Square, situated on the corner of Voght Street and Granite Avenue.

The Walk of Stars Murals really added to the character of the small town of Merritt, BC. Makes the town feel like country music. (

The information for George Jones was obtained through Wikipedia and George Jones Biography.

Featured Country Music Musician : George Jones

Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame

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Merritt Winter Attractions and Adventures

Top Winter Things To Do and Activities in Merritt BC

“… we have learned that Merritt BC Canada could very well become a top winter adventure destination in Canada!”

Merritt Winter Attractions! Yes, Merritt has many. As a result we have highlighted 5 Merritt winter attractions and adventures worthy of your time this season. In fact, Merritt winter adventures, is a hidden gem in British Columbia. However, people are beginning to take notice more and more with the increased search engine presence educating travelers on the first-class winter adventures available here in the Nicola Valley. Haven’t you heard?

“Merritt BC Canada is “Adventure Ready”!

Powder Winter Attractions

The Nicola Valley – with its vast wilderness backcountry forests, network of gravel roads and hundreds of lakes – is an ideal playground for enjoying snow and ice winter adventures. Most noteworthy our snow is generally light powder snow. What does that mean? It means it is easy to maneuver around in the snow making for good winter adventure conditions. As a result many regions in British Columbia experience fog, rain and clouds during the winter months… Merritt tends to see sunshine more than most.

“Merritt is a hidden gem for winter attractions and adventures. When the world learns what Merritt has to offer, winter enthusiasts will converge on this small winter wonderland in a heart beat.” Greg Girard

Experience Community Program

For just under 2 years I have had the opportunity to work with the many good people at Tourism Nicola Valley and in the community of Merritt, BC, Canada. Together we are building a stronger and more versatile 4-season tourism industry under the “Experience” brand. The “Experience Community” program is a very successful small and rural content marketing program we here, at eh Canada Travel, have introduced to the community on Merritt. Hence, now we have a group of positive and passionate locals participating in the marketing of their community through story telling and experiences via a living website and community blogsite.

“This has been the best thing that has happened in Merritt in the last 10 years!” Shelley Sanders – Canadian Country Music Heritage Society.

experiencemerritt

Creating Jobs In Merritt

We have learned that Merritt BC Canada could very well become a top winter adventure destination in Canada! Bold right! Well I believe it and many around me believe it too. A stronger Merritt winter attraction and adventure season has many benefits including establishing a consistent flow of new money into the community therefore supporting the current stores, accommodations, and restaurants… as well as, attracting new stores and services to the community. Consequently, there is that “creating jobs” thing too. That is pretty important. Where is the bad in that? There is none.

Learn Through Positive Partnerships

In working with the front line businesses in the community we have met so many good people and key stakeholders who have taught us so much about the Nicola Valley. Some of the associations we have been fortunate enough to work with include Tourism Nicola Valley, Vision Merritt,  Community Futures, Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame, and Chamber of Commerce. Therefore, these are the groups we would recommend working with on any Merritt BC decision making process. It has been a positive experience working with them. They are really, the true ambassadors of Merritt BC Canada!

What To Know About Merritt Winter Attractions

The top winter things to do in Merritt BC, based on my humble opinion, are listed below. I have selected 5 Merritt winter attractions and adventures which will “Wow” your socks off. Included below are links which connect you to maps, tips, photos, videos, contact information and plenty of descriptive text. The links to the preferred Merritt resources below provide you everything you need to know to plan and book one of Merritt’s first-class winter attractions and adventures.

5 Merritt Winter Attractions and Adventures

merritt snowmobiling adventures

Another great snow day snowmobiling in the Nicola Valley

MERRITT SNOWMOBILING / SLEDDING

Throughout the Nicola Valley snowmobiling is getting a lot of positive press lately. Therefore more and more people are finding out about their little snowmobile retreat. In fact, Merritt sledding has made a few top magazines in British Columbia for snowmobiling.

“Sledding around Merritt is an adventure worth seeking out.” Snoriderswest.com 2016

The Merritt snowmobiling adventure destination most noteworthy in this region is the Coquilhalla back country. You have heard of the Coquihalla Highway but did you know the backcountry is a hot spot for snowmobiling? Likewise there are other sledding destinations in the region as well. Stoyoma, Honeymoon Lakes, Hooshum Ridge and, near by, Thynne Mountain (Brookmere) are considered worthy sledding destinations as well. If you want to ride steep and deep or enjoy a day of boondocking, you’ll find plenty of sledding action in and around Merritt and the Nicola Valley.
CLICK TO LEARN MORE ABOUT SLEDDING IN MERRITT.

merritt cross country skiing - kane valley

Cross country skiing on the Kane Valley Trails

MERRITT CROSS COUNTRY SKIING

First of all remember these 2 words – Kane Valley. That is all you have to do to get your next xc ski fix in the Nicola Valley. Why is this important? Because cross country skiing in the Nicola Valley starts and ends on the Kane Valley xc ski trails. The valley has over 50 kilometres of groomed trails ideal for wilderness Nordic skiing. Consequently, the trails are well marked with signage, decorated with shelters (warming huts) and there are washrooms on site too.
CLICK TO LEARN MORE ABOUT CROSS COUNTRY SKIING IN MERRITT.

merritt snowshowing

What a great day to go winter hiking (a.k.a snowshoeing) in Merritt

MERRITT SNOWSHOEING

In our minds snowshoeing has always been a winter version of summer hiking. It is in many ways winter hiking. Likewise snowshoeing involves exploring the same summer trails but provides a winter perspective to the scenery. Personally, there is nothing more satisfying than seeing your adventures through a seasonal lens. Finally snowshoeing trails are available in the Kane Valley region of the Nicola Valley. Plan properly, and one can also snowshoe the vast network of hiking trails and gravel roads available in the backcountry.
CLICK TO LEARN MORE ABOUT SNOWSHOEING IN MERRITT.

merritt ice fishing

Enjoy the solitude ice fishing in the Nicola Valley

MERRITT ICE FISHING

If you are new here, there is one thing you should know. Throughout the Nicola Valley there are over 200+ lakes! Yes, you heard me right, 200. As a result the word is getting out that you can ice fish, “A lake a day for as long as you stay” when visiting Merritt BC. Merritt ice fishing season starts in mid-December as the colder weather sets in and 6 inches of hard ice covers the lakes. And… do not forget to get your fishing licence.
CLICK TO LEARN MORE ABOUT ICE FISHING IN MERRITT.

courthouse gallery merritt

Paintings on display at the Courthouse Gallery in Merritt

MERRITT WINTER ENTERTAINMENT

After the days filled with enjoying our first class Merritt winter attractions and adventures you deserve some quality down time. What better way to enjoy the nights than by attending some of our great entertainment venues and dining establishments. Certainly one of the many pubs, restaurants, open mics, spas, junior hockey game, live music, art galleries, and/or community events will entertain you and your group. Hence why Merritt is a good host day and night. Therefore the community will keep you active and entertained during your winter vacation here in the Nicola Valley.
CLICK TO MEET OUR ENTERTAINMENT ATTRACTIONS IN MERRITT.

Top Winter Things To Do In Merritt BC Canada

Best Merritt Winter Adventures

“Me and my band and crew have always lived by the code: ‘Work hard, play harder.”

Kenny Chesney, Country Music Superstar

Merritt BC Canada Murals

A Country Music Association Inductee Featured On The Mural Walk in Merritt, BC

Kenny Chesney –  Bonafide Country Music Superstar Deemed “The King of the Road” by The Wall Street Journal

Kenny Chesney is one of the most successful country singers in the world. Although it turns out there’s a lot more hiding underneath that cowboy hat than one would think.

Blessed with a voice that sounds older than his years, Chesney has become known as the country singer with a hard-core country style. Influenced by such artists as Merle Haggard and George “the Possum” Jones, he also draws on the country-rock style of Charlie Daniels and his band.

Chesney was born on March 26, 1968, in Knoxville, Tennessee, at St. Mary’s Medical Center. He grew up in Luttrell, Tennessee.

He is the son of David Chesney, a former elementary school teacher, and Karen Chandler, a hair stylist in the Knoxville area. Chesney has one sibling, a younger sister named Jennifer Chandler. Raised on humble values he spent his childhood beside his beloved little sister.

Lutrell, Tennessee, is a really great place to grow up. You couldn’t help but be consumed by country music. It’s everywhere … but I never dreamed of being a singer as a kid. (Kenny Chesney)

Prelude To Popularity and Fame – Kenny Chesney

Although he is a country music superstar. There are plenty out there that think they know a lot about the singer  and they probably do. But let it be known there’s still a few things they don’t know about him.

Kenny’s childhood dream was to become a professional athlete. His heart was set on possibly being either a baseball or football star. Unfortunately that couldn’t happen because the rules were you had to be taller than 5’8″.

Kenny attended and graduated from Gibbs High School in Corryton, Tennessee in 1986. After high school, Chesney enrolled in East Tennessee State University in Johnson City where he studied for a business and advertising and marketing degree.

His mother gave him his first guitar “The Terminor” for Christmas that same year. He taught himself how to play it and at the same time started entertaining his friends and writing his own songs. He had the bug.

Kenny Chesney (the boot)

The Beginning Of A Superstar

Entertaining for his room mates and friends led to a gig in a small restaurant close to campus. The lack of response he received from the Saturday night student crowds did not discourage him. He stood up, shook it off and continued to play at small restaurants and clubs.

In 1989, Chesney recorded a demo album at Classic Recording in Bristol, Virginia, of original songs written by himself. Selling a 1000 copies of the album as well as performing, he was able to buy himself a new guitar.

Hooking up with a college band Kenny’s fan base expanded as he ventured away from campus and started playing venues in Virginia and throghout the Carolinas. He had the bug bad, it took everything he had not to quit university and head to Nashville.

After graduating from East Tennessee State University in December, 1991, with degree in hand. Kenny wasted no time in packing up and heading to Nashville, Tennessee, to hopefully become a songwriter.

Kenny Chesney

Goals and Grit Plus The Drive To Make Great Things Happen

Chesney secured a house gig at a honky tonk called  “The Turf” in Nashville’s historic district. On top of that he got a job as a valet parking cars during the day. While paying the bills, he read every book he could get his hands on about the music business. He did his research on the country music industry.

One day in 1992 he picked up the phone and called BMI publishing executive Clay Bradley. Clay referred Kenny to Troy Tomlinson, of Opryland Music Group .

“First of all I was attracted to the songs, because I thought that he painted great pictures in his lyrics, particularly for someone who had not been around the typical Music Row co-writes.” (Troy Tomlinson)

“I thought that he sang very well too. But more than anything there was a kind of this ‘I-will-do-it’ look in his eyes – I was really drawn in by the fact that he was so set on being successful in this business.” (Troy Tomlinson) (Wikipedia)

Kenny performed five songs at the audition which impressed Tomlinson and left him enthusiastic. When Kenny left the addition, he left with a songwriter’s contract in hand.

Kenny Chesney

The Beginning Of A Country Music Staple – Kenny Chesney

A year later in 1993, Kenny made an appearance at a local songwriter’s showcase. This showcase led to him landing a recording deal with Capricorn records. The album recorded with Capricorn Records, new country division, released in 1994 featured, Chesney’s first recording of “The Tin Man” and “In My Wildest Dreams”. Both of them reaching the lower regions of the US Billboard Hot Country Singles and Track Charts.

The Album sold 10,000 copies before Capricorn records decided to ban their country division of the label in 1994. Chesney was left with a record but no promotional help. Luckily for him however, his talents as a songwriter and singer left a mark in the industry and BNA was waiting in the wings.

Merritt BC Murals Selfie Photo

The BNA label, which signed Chesney in 1995, also purchased the master disks to In My Wildest Dreams. Chesney’s first album with BNA, All I Need To Know, would feature a reprise of “The Tin Man” as its first single.

Releasing his second album in 1995, All I Need to Know produced the single “Fall in Love“. It reached the Top 10, while “Grandpa Told Me So” peaked at number 23. This album seemed to capture the traditional spirit that made country music popular as well as set the stage for a string of platinum releases throughout the rest of the 1990s and 2000s.

 

Small Steps, Spirit, Energy And Passion Continue Towards Becoming A Country Music Staple

Chesney’s  first Gold Album “Me and You” was released in 1996. This was his first album released by BNA and the third of his career as well as his second major label album.

The album’s first single, “Back in My Arms Again” climbed the charts to reach just outside the top 40. The title track “When I Close My Eyes” which Chesney recorded on his previous album from Capricorn Records reached number 1.

Kenny opened and toured with Alabama to crowds of 15,000 fans a night, since the release of his second album with Capricorn Records in 1994.  With that kind of exposure, as well as continuing to tour with Alabama, did nothing but help the sales of his third album as it continued to climb.

“As a songwriter and an artist, I want to try to make somebody laugh, I want to try to make somebody cry, I want to try to make somebody remember their first girlfriend or their first kiss. You want to try to make them miss somebody or want something.” (Kenny Chesney to Dixie Weathersby)

“I Will Stand’ followed in 1997. The first single from this album ‘She’s Got It All’ remained at top of Billboard Country Chart for three weeks. (Biography)

Chesney wanted a tune or two that was hard-core country as well as being able to pull emotions from his listeners. Regardless of whether country radio played it or not. “Hillbilly Heaven with Their Honky Tonk Hell” was that song. It featured backup vocals by fellow Young Country artist Tracy Lawrence and George Jones “The Possum” himself, who Chesney maintained is “the best country singer there ever was”. (Biography)

Kenny Chesney

Continuing With Small Steps to Big Things

“I am glad I have taken really small steps. “I have learned something in every step that helped me get to the next one.… Shoot, if I get to do this for 20 more years, and I am still taking these small steps, then that is what I’m going to do because I love country music.” (Kenny Chesney-Dixie Weathersby)

Chesney’s plans along with his conservative approach to the industry changed with the release of “Every Where We Go” in 1999.

The album sold over 2 million copies. Two of the singles “You Had Me From Hello” and “How Forever Feels,” reached number one, another single “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy”,  reached number 2.

Releasing his first “Greatest Hits” collection in 2000 which included two new songs reached number one on the album chart and like “Everywhere We Go”, was awarded platinum status. (Encyclopedia)

Kenny’s chart success and album sales were just warm-ups for what was yet to come. The release of the album “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Problem” in 2002, reached number one as well as included four top ten singles. “The Good Stuff” spent seven weeks at number 1 and became the number one country song of 2002.

Kenny Chesney

Riding The Wave To Becoming A Super Star Country Music Staple

Chesney released his first holiday album, “All I Want For Christmas Is A Real Good Tan” in 2003. The ‘Margaritas N’ Senorita’s Tour also took place in 2003.

The next major release in 2004, “When The Sun Goes Down” continued the country wave. The album included Calypso rhythms, influenced by his love of the Caribbean as well as a duet with Uncle Kracker, a rap rocker.

Its first single “There Goes My Life” spent seven weeks at number one on the Billboard country charts. A duet, the Album’s title track with Uncle Kracker went number one. “I Go Back” along with the album’s fourth single “The Woman With You” both peaked at number two. The fifth single “Anything But Mine” reached number one, and the final single “Keg In The Closet” peaked at number 6.

The album sold 550,000 copies in the first week and a over three million copies all totalled. “When The Sun Goes Down” was honored with the 2004 CMA award for Album Of The Year while Chesney was honored with Entertainer Of The Year. He was also presented with the 2004 AMA’s Artist Of The year Award.

Kenny finished off the year with “Guitars, Tiki Bars And A Whole Lotta Love Tour” (Wikipedia)

Kenny Chesney

Continuing The Road To Shattering Records

Chesney received his first career GRAMMY nomination in 2004 for Best Country Collaboration With Vocal for “Hey Good Lookin'” with Clint Black, Jimmy Buffett, Alan Jackson, Toby Keith, and George Strait. He made his GRAMMY stage debut performing “Better As A Memory” at the 51st GRAMMY Awards in 2009. (Grammy Newsletter)

Chesney released two albums in 2005, ‘Be As You Are’ and “The Road And The Radio”. He also went on a ‘Somewhere in the Sun Tour’.

In 2006, he released his first live album called. “Live Those Songs Again”. It includes a live rendition of 15 of his songs. This was also the year when he went on ‘The Road and The Radio Tour’.

Chesney’s next album, “Just Who Am I”, “Poets & Pirates” was released on September 11, 2007. On November 15, 2007, he released another compilation album titled “Super Hits”. ‘The Flip Flop Summer Tour’ was also organized this year.

Kenny released his next album, “Lucky Old Sun” on October 14, 2008. “Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven” and “Down the Road” are two most popular singles from this album. This is also the year when he went on ‘The Poets and Pirates Tour’.

April 2009, he began his ‘Sun City Carnival Tour’ starting at Uncasville, Connecticut. He ended it in Indianapolis in September 2009. This is also the year when he released his third compilation album “Super Hits II”.

Kenny Chesney

A Whirlwind Of Albums And Tours

2010, Chesney released a new album titled “Hemmingway Whiskey”. This is also the year when he produced a biographical film on his favorite football star Condredge Holloway Jr. The film was titled ‘The Color Orange’ and was premiered on February 20, 2011 on ESPN. ‘With a Two Tour’ was also organized that year.

Chesney next undertook his eleventh concert tour titled ‘Going Coastal Tour’. It began on March 17, 2011 at West Palm Beach and ended on August 27, 2011 in Boxborough.

Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame

2012, Chesney released his thirteenth studio album titled “Welcome to Fish Bowl”. One of its singles “Feel Like a Rock Star” received four and half stars out of five.

June 2012, Chesney embarked on “Brothers of Sun Tour” with Tim McGraw. They performed in 22 different cities starting at Tampa and ending at Foxboro in the end of August 2012. The tour drew over one million audiences and grossed $96 million in ticket sales.

March 2013, Chesney went on his thirteenth tour ‘No Shoes Nation Tour’. It was organized to promote his newest album, “Life on Rock”, which was released on February 5, 2013.

On what inspires him to write a song: “My inspiration comes from life in general. I keep my ears open, as well as overhear conversations in restaurants and on the street. I watch a lot of movies and TV, and love to read. There are so many things that can be taken and made into songs, everything that has an emotion to it. I just look for things that people can hang on to.”

Kenny Chesney

The Albums and Tours Continue

On September 23, 2014 Chesney released his latest album, “The Big Revival”. It was a big hit and many of its singles topped the Country Airplay Chart. The next year, he undertook ‘The Big Revival Tour’. It began on March 26, 2015 at Nashville and ended at Foxboro on August 29, 2015. On October 27, he and Jason Aldean announced that they would perform 10 joint stadium shows in the summer of that year.

Chesney announced that he was in the studio working on new music on March 7, 2016, . On March 24, 2016 the lead single to the album titled “Noise”, was released to country radio .  The album, Cosmic Hallelujah, was released on October 28 The second song in the album, “Setting the World on Fire”, featuring singer PINK was released to country radio on July 28, 2016.

The Birth Of No Shoes Nation

On August 25, 2012, at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, Kenny Chesney announced to his fans that he would call his fan following No Shoes Nation. The term No Shoes Nation originated from Chesney’s hit song “No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problem”. The symbol of No Shoes Nation is a black flag with a white skull and crossbones. Live in No Shoes Nation was accompanied by a live album, which topped the Billboard 200 after its release in late 2017.  No Shoes Nation inspired the name of Chesney’s Sirius XM channel, No Shoes Radio.

It was announced, in January 2018, that Chesney had ended his contract with Sony Music Nashville and signed to Warner Bros. Records Nashville. Chesney released his first album with Warner, entitled Songs for the Saints, on July 27, 2018. In November 2018, he announced plans to tour the U.S. in 2019, hitting smaller-sized venues and arenas rather than massive stadiums.

Kenny Chesney

One Of The Most Famous Superstars of All Time

Kenny Chesney is the 90th most popular classic music artist and the 59th most famous in the world. Kenny Chesney is described by fans as: A great performer, entertaining, talented, easy to listen to and awesome.

“The more people I get to see in front of me – whether it’s at a football stadium or a funky little bar like the Hog’s Breath in Key West – the more I realize how much we all have in common. There are a lot of people punching a clock or having too much on their plate, a buncha people on their first date, with that nervousness and excitement that they’re really there…we all want the same things, all hope for the same stuff and I feel like pretty much worry about the same stuff, too. (Kenny Chesney)

Kenny has recorded 20 albums, 20 of which have been certified Gold or higher by the RIAA. He has also produced more than 40 Top 10 singles on the US Billboard Hot Country Songs and Country Airplay charts, 30 of which have reached number one. Many of these have also charted within the Top 40 of the US Billboard Hot 100, making him one of the most successful crossover country artists of all time.. He has sold over 30 million albums worldwide.

Kenny Chesney

Recognition And Awards

Chesney has received six Academy of Country Music awards, including four consecutive Entertainer of the Year awards, as well as nine awards from the Country Music Association. Other notable awards he received include the Academy of Country Music’s  New Male Vocalist of the Year,  Top Male Vocalist of the Year, and the Triple Crown Award in 2005.

Bonafide Country Music Superstar – Kenny Chesney Plays The Last Merritt Mountain Music Festival

Kenny Chesney could have caused a few of the festival organizers minor heart attacks when, near the end of his show, he jumped down into the photographer’s pit in front of the stage to start shaking hands with fans. Chesney closed out seventeen years of the Merritt Mountain Music Festival in 2009. (Merritt Herald)

Kenny Chesney Country Music Staple Featured On The Merritt, BC Canada Walk Of Fame

A bonafide Country Music Superstar as well as a Country Music Staple and the last critically acclaimed star to headline The Merritt Mountain Music Festival. Chesney earned his spot on the wall. Even though Kenny is not a Canadian and is not in the Country Music Hall Of Fame. It was an honor to have him perform in Merritt, BC, Canada and become a part of the Country Music Hall of Fame Mural Walk.

The Kenny Chesney Mural, painted by Michelle Loughery can be found in Spirit Square on the corner of Granite Avenue and Voght Street, in a row of murals near the stage. The Merritt Mural Project was created in 2005. The Merritt BC Murals were part of a successful program called, the “Merritt Youth Mural Project”. A project designed for working with local young artists and “ youth at risk”.

Explore Our Beautiful Downtown And All The Nicola Valley Has to Offer.

Visit our Canadian Country Music Hall Of Fame located at 2025 Quilchena Avenue, downtown Merritt, BC. The Hall of Fame includes Canadian Hall Of Fame Inductees as well as CCMA Award Winning Artists. Start you Downtown Mural walk from this point.

Walk of Stars Handprints

In addition, while on your mural tour, visit the many handprints of country artists situated throughout the town.

Hundred’s of International Country Music Artists have performed at the annual Merritt Mountain Music Festival. As a result, those stars  left their mark permanently, by placing their handprints (or, in one case, footprints) and signatures in concrete stars. As a result, in 2003, those stars became the basis for the Merritt Walk of Stars. In addition, by 2005 more than 100 bronzed stars, created from the concrete impressions, were displayed throughout the community.

Above all, the handprints will continue to grow with the Rockin River Music Fest, and add to the existing legacy of the Stars that have visited and performed in Merritt, BC.

 Discover and experience the natural beauty and attractions in Merritt and the Nicola Valley!

Kenny Chesney has covered a lot of ground – and he believes he’s got a lot more ground to go. You can follow Kenny on:

Website: www.kennychesney.com

Facebook

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Hall of Fame

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(Information for this blog was obtained from Wikipedia and Encyclopedia. Other sites recognized individually)

Canadian Country Music Singer – Ian Tyson

Merritt BC Canada Murals

A Canadian Country Music Hall Of Fame
Inductee

Ian Tyson Canadian Country Music Singer Pioneer – Five Decades Plus

Canadian Country Music Singer Pioneer Ian Tyson walks with a stiff-legged cowboy gait to the centre of the stage. A preamble to his performance. The walk is an illustration, of what being a cowboy is all about. Falls off horses, bruises, broken bones as well as a reminder that, the cowboy life is not the glamour of the old western movies. Just listen to some of the great recordings performed by Ian Tyson.  An artist who has become a pioneer icon — a timeless singer with a bruised voice who tells stories with the unvarnished luster of truth.

For one thing, Ian Tyson is  an Internationally acclaimed Canadian Country SingerSongwriter Pioneer. He has created some of Alberta’s and Canada’s most enduring standards, not to mention a career spanning over five decades. His music has inspired such renowned artists such as Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Gordon Lightfoot. Consequently, over the years, Tyson has continued to create music that captures life in the west through vivid descriptions of Alberta and cowboy culture. Not to mention, a leading spokesman for western pride including helping establish a unique soundtrack to capture the Alberta experience.

Victoria British Columbia – 1933

Born in Victoria, British Columbia in 1933, the second child of George and Margaret Tyson, Ian grew up in Duncan, BC. His Father, who immigrated from England in 1906 owned a small farm. Ian learned how to ride horses on this farm.

Ian Tyson - Experience Nicola valley

Cowboy Ian Tyson Four Strong Winds

Beginning And End of Rodeo Career

He left home as a teenager,  for southern Alberta where he followed and competed in the Rodeo Circuit. A foot injury put him in the Calgary hospital. It was while recovering that he learned how to play the guitar.

The Musical Journey Begins Of A Canadian Country Singer Pioneer

He made his singing debut at the Heidelberg Café in Vancouver in 1956 as well as  played with a rock and roll band, The Sensational Stripes. After graduating from the Vancouver School of Art in 1958, Tyson made his way to Toronto to pursue a music Career.

It was during the 60’s folk boom that he met singer/songwriter Sylvia Fricker. As a result, they formed the duo “Ian and Sylvia. On the positive side, as Ian & Sylvia, they were the Canadian stars of the early ’60s folk boom. “Ian and Sylvia” enjoyed great success. They were playing all over the country receiving rave reviews and playing to sold-out crowds. One of their high lights was playing New York’s Carnegie Hall.

The duo married in 1964. Forming what was to become one of the most influential country acts in the industry, both in Canada and abroad. They recorded over a dozen timeless albums as well as wrote some of Canada’s best-loved songs, including Ian’s “Four Strong Winds” as well as “Someday Soon”  including Sylvia’s “You Were on My Mind”. All things considered, some of the most famous artists of our times have covered these songs countless times.

Ian Tyson - Alberta Canada

Ian Tyson

Four Strong Winds

It was during this time that Four Strong Winds was released. The title track became an instant hit. Over 50 versions were recorded in the first five years after its release. It has remained a folk standard. Neil Young recorded Four Strong Winds in 1979.  “It is the most beautiful song, I have ever heard in my life.” Johnny Cash recorded the song, shortly before his death. He included the song on his posthumous album released in 2006. The song has also become an Alberta standard. A 2005 radio listener’s poll named Four Strong Winds the greatest Canadian song of the 20th century. (Alberta Order Of Excellence)

During the British Invasion

Ian and Sylvia evolved into pioneers of country-rock during the British Invasion.. Their band, Great Speckled Bird, rivaled the Byrds and other groups which helped create modern country, a decade before the Urban Cowboy phase of contemporary “new traditionalists”.

Ian Tyson Singer and Songwriter

Ian Tyson Show

Television Years

Ian and Sylvia formed the iconic country rock band “Great Speckled Bird”. At the same time, Tyson hosted the national Canadian television music show, “Nashville North.” The show was later renamed “The Ian Tyson Show” from 1970 to 1975. Sylvia Tyson and the Great Speckled Bird appeared often on the series.

Back To Ranching

After hosting television music show from 1970 to 1975, the music and marriage of Ian and Sylvia had ended. It was now or never. Disillusioned with the Canadian country music scene. Tyson realized the time had come to return to his first love – training horses in the ranch country of southern Alberta. He once again made Alberta his home, settling in Pincher Creek where he began ranching and living the life about which he was so proud to write and sing.

Cowboy Ian Tyson from Alberta Canada

Ian Tyson Esplanade

The Time Of Country And Cowboy Music

“It was a kind of a musical Christmas card for my friends” he recalls. “We weren’t looking for a ‘hit’ or radio play or anything like that.”

In 1980, Tyson met Calgary music manager and producer Neil MacGonigill. In  1983. After three years, in spite of working his ranch, Tyson decided to concentrate on music. To begin with, the album Old Corrals & Sagebrush, a mixture of traditional cowboy songs and new western music, was well received.

On the other hand he found it a challenge to combine his two separate lives in new songs that explained the reality of “western culture” and the mindset of a cowboy in a sometimes-alien world. His breakthrough album, 1986′s Cowboyography, earned platinum status in Canada, as well as earned him his first JUNO Award.

All of a sudden, the cowboy renaissance was about to find expression at the inaugural Elko Cowboy Poetry Gathering in 1983. To put it another way a small coterie of saddle makers, rawhide braiders, cowboy poets and pickers came together in a small cow town in northern Nevada. Not only was he invited to perform his “new western music” at the gathering, as well as,  Tyson has missed only one or two gatherings in the 30-plus years since.

The 1987 album Cowboyography contained two songs that were later chosen by the Western Writers of America as among the Top 100 Western Songs of all time: “Navajo Rug” and “Summer Wages”.[36]

Merritt BC Murals Selfie Photo

On The Road

As soon as Tyson’s music became popular, he began traveling and performing at concerts across North America. At the same time a busy Tyson stayed true to his roots. Maintaining Alberta as his home as well as working on his ranch in Pincher Creek. As a matter of fact the gravel road that runs from his present ranch in the foothills of the Rockies is the inspiration for Tyson’s 2005 album, “Songs from the Gravel Road”. As a result, by releasing this album at the age of 71, Tyson has shown that an active cowboy life keeps his creative pulse beating. Not to mention, his discography remains an enduring collection of Canadian classics.

Ian Tyson Country Music Legend

Ian Tyson Celebrating 50 Years Of Music

Inductions And Awards Of A Canadian Country Singer Pioneer

Canadian Country Music Association 
Male Vocalist of the Year 1987
Single of the Year – Navajo Rug  1987
Album of the Year – Cowboyography 1987
Vocalist of the Year (Male) 1988
Induction into Canadian Country Music Hall of Honor 1989
Video of the Year – Springtime in Alberta 1991

Juno Awards 
Country Male Vocalist of the Year 1987
Inducted into Juno Hall of Fame (with Sylvia Tyson) 1992

 Big Country Awards

 Outstanding Performance (male) 1975
Best Country Album – Ol’Eon/A&M Records 1975
Top Country TV Show – The Ian Tyson Show 1975
Artist of the Year 1988
Top Male Vocalist1988
Album (Best)- Cowboyography 1988

Country Music Association of Calgary

Male Vocalist of the Year 1989
Alberta Song of the Year – Fifty Years Ago 1989
Top Alberta Single of the Year – Fifty Years Ago 1989
Favorite Calgary and Area Country Entertainer 1989

Miscellaneous

Four Strong Winds named All Time Favorite Canadian Country Songs 1988

Readers Poll – COUNTRY MUSIC NEWS
Finalist, World Championship Cutting Horse Futurity, Fort Worth, TX 1989
INDUCTION Canadian Country Music Hall Of Fame 1989

Country Music Association of Calgary 1989

 – Alberta Male Vocalist of the Year
– Top Alberta Single of the Year (Fifty Years Ago)
–  Song of the Year (Fifty Years Ago)
– Harcourt, Calgary and Area Country Entertainer

More Awards

 Song of the West Reader’s Poll for Best Album of the Year: “And Stood There Amazed” 1991
First Male Country Vocalist to Achieve Two Gold Albums in Canada 1992
ASCAP Country Award (Someday Soon) 1992
Honorary Dr. of Athabasca University 1993
RECIPIENT- Order of Canada 1995
Prairie Music Awards – Outstanding Country Recording (Lost Herd) 1999
American Cowboy Culture Awards – Western Music Award 2000
Strong Winds voted Canada’s No. 1 song of the 20th Century 2000
Prairie Music Hall of Fame 2001
Honorary Dr. of Law – University of Calgary 2001
Western Heritage Wrangler Award – Outstanding Original Western Composition for “Bob Fudge” 2002

Governor General’s Performance Arts Award 2003

BCCMA Hall of Fame 2006
Alberta Order of Excellence 2006
Mariposa Folk Festival Hall of Fame 2006
CBC Radio Listeners’ Poll declares Four Strong Winds the Number One Canadian song of the 20th Century 2006
Honorary Dr. of Letters – Thompson Rivers University 2007
ASCAP Citation of Excellence 2008
Western Music Hall of Fame 2008
Western Horseman Magazine’s Horseman of the Year Award 2009
Resonance Award – presented by Canadian Museum of Civilization for a lifetime’s contribution to Canadian music. 2009
First Recipient of the Charles Russell Heritage Award (C.M. Russell Museum, Great Falls, MT) 2010
The Diamond Jubilee Medal from Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II in honour of the 60th anniversary of her reign.  2012
Doctor of Laws (honoris causa) – University of Lethbridge  2015
Fellowship, Glenbow Museum, Calgary, AB  2015
Association of Country Music in Alberta (ACMA) – Hall Of Fame 2017

Songs from the Gravel Road TV Documentary

• 2011 – Bronze Medal – 54th New York Festival’s International Television & Film Awards 2011
• 2011 – Gold Remi Award – Best TV Documentary – 44th Houston Independent Film 2011
 
Alberta Recording Industry Association

Male Performer of the Year 1987
Country Artist of the Year 1987
Song of the Year – Navajo Rug 1987
Album of the Year – Cowboyography 1987
Single of the Year 1988
Best Country Artist on Record 1988
Male Recording Artist of the Year 1988
Composer of the Year 1989
Performer of the Year 1989

Some Top Honors

Ian was inducted into the Canadian Country Music Association Hall of Honor and Hall of Fame in 1989. To the Juno Hall of Fame in 1992, the Canadian Broadcast Hall of Fame in 2000, as well as the Prairie Music Hall of Fame in 2001. Ian Tyson was inducted into the Mariposa Hall of Fame in 2006.

Tyson  holds honorary doctorate degrees from the University of Calgary and Athabasca University. He became a member of the Order of Canada in 1994.

Tyson became a recipient of the Order of Canada in October 1994. In 2005 CBC Radio One listeners chose his song, ‘Four Strong Winds’ as the greatest Canadian song of all time, during a radio series titled “50 Tracks: The Canadian Version”. (Biography)

He was inducted into the Alberta Order of Excellence in 2006 as well as 2003 including receiving a Governor General’s Performing Arts Award.

Connecting With People

“Tyson said, “I made it a point to reach as many people as possible through my music, including people not directly from the ranch culture.” (Ian Tyson)

As a matter of fact, Ian’s goal has been to write songs to which different people could all relate. Not only but also the popularity and longevity of his many albums, along with the awards and recognition that followed, are proof that Tyson has been able to achieve that goal.

Ian Tyson tells the story of rural Alberta and today’s West, above all through his music. He reveals the challenges of a rancher’s life, the beauty of the Rockies as well as the cowboy’s strong work ethic.

Ranching with Ian Tyson

The cowboy Ian Tyson

Passion, Talent and Inspiration Of A Canadian Country Singer Pioneer

As has been noted the path of Tyson’s career serves as a model for Canadian musicians starting out in the industry today. In short, his dedication to music and his style is firmly recognized. By always focusing on his home as well as his passions. Tyson serves as a mentor for new artists, such as Albertan Corb Lund.

In addition Tyson has used his skill and passion for music to benefit the community. To emphasize, performing at fundraising concerts across Alberta, Canada and internationally to raise awareness of and support for many causes. In particular, including child safety and education. As a compassionate rancher and environmentalist, Tyson has also joined his fellow Southern Albertans in work to preserve the natural landscape of rural Alberta.

 Corb Lund and his idle Ian Tyson

Ian Tyson and Corb Lund

Life Challenges

“I fought the sound system and I lost” (Ian Tyson)

Life has not been without its difficulties, however. In 2006, he seriously damaged his voice after a particularly tough performance at an outdoor country music festival.  As a result,  a virus that took months to pass, his smooth voice now hoarse, grainy, had lost much of its resonant bottom end. Generally speaking, after briefly entertaining thoughts that he would never sing again, he began relearning and reworking his songs to accommodate his “new voice.” To his surprise, audiences now paid attention as he half-spoke, half-sung familiar words, which seemed to reveal new depths for his listeners. (Biography)

Songs with Ian Tyson

Ian Tyson

Summary of a 63 year Canadian Country Singer Pioneer

Ian Tyson is now 84 years old. He’s still going strong. Still touring, recording, as well as running the Tyson ranch in Pincher Creek, Alberta Canada. At the same time continuing to writing about love, horses, and the landscape he loves. He released his most recent single “You Should Have Known” in September 2017 on Stony Plain Records, the label that Tyson’s released fifteen albums with since the ‘80s. The song unapologetically celebrates the hard living, hard drinking, hard loving cowboy life and joins his favorites hits such as “Four Strong Winds,” “Someday Soon,” “Summer Wages” and more. (Biography)

“Your Eighties Is Not A Time For Sissies” (Ian Tyson)

Tyson doesn’t look backwards at six decades plus of a career that’s earned him countless awards, the Order of Canada, and a devoted following. He faces the audience, as he faces the future, with a mixture of optimism and resignation. Your eighties, Tyson tells people, is not a time for sissies.

An announcement in July 2019 stated that Ian Tyson and Sylvia Tyson would be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. They will be inducted individually, not as a duo. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation article stated that “the duo’s 1964’s hit, Four Strong Winds, has been deemed one of the most influential songs in Canadian history”.

Country Music Legend

Ian Tyson

Canadian Country Singer Pioneer – Ian Tyson A Canadian Country Music Hall Of Fame Inductee On The Downtown Merritt BC, Canada Mural Walk

Performing at The Merritt Mountain Music Festival in 2005, and returning to Merritt BC Canada in 2010, to perform and support the Walk Of Stars as well as the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame Galas. Ian Tyson earned his spot on the wall. The mural of Ian Tyson can be found on the back of the stage in Spirit Square on the corner of Granite and Voght Street.

Ian Tyson – Canadian Country Singer Pioneer Plays The Infamous Merritt Mountain Music Festival

The crowd was gathered in the white lawn chairs in the VIP section right in front of the stage. They were waiting in anticipation for the “One of A Kind – Authentic and Durable Headliner for the night Ian Tyson.”

Backstage. Tyson runs through the vocal warm up routine he’s done numerous times throughout his five-decade career. He stretches his arms and legs. And then his vocal cords. He tunes his guitar and then saunters to the stage.

Taking the stage, he starts singing his songs about the west. His voice picks out just the right notes as his fingers pick out the chords. This isn’t honky-tonk over-produced country and western twang. We were getting real ballads about places and legends, and a world that is slowly vanishing.

Like most Ian Tyson shows the evening was closed out to a roaring crowd with “Four Strong Winds.” For a true Ian Tyson Fan this is the song to wait for.

 

 

Ian Tyson Canadian Country Singer Pioneer Headlines The 7th Annual Walk Of Stars Gala

The seventh annual Merritt Walk of Stars (MWOS) gala, a fundraiser for the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame, kicked off with a free show in Spirit Square, from some top names in the industry.  It was followed by a world-class concert that night at the Civic Centre where Ian Tyson was The Headliner.

When Tyson finally raised his white cowboy hat and waved to fans, it was to an enthusiastic, well-earned standing ovation.

Tyson performed in the afternoon as well as signed his mural painted by Michelle Loughery during the day at Spirit Square. The public were invited to meet him as well as the rest of the performers. Fans were able to see the artists on stage, get autographs, and get right up close with them.

“These murals are a great way for visitors to walk the downtown area. We enjoyed our visit, stopped at a few shops, and bought a souvenir too… Nice small town touch”. (Don H Kirkland Washington)

Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame

Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame Merritt Attractions – Take The Walk

Visit downtown Merritt in the beautiful Nicola Valley, Merritt, BC and take part in the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame, Merritt, BC Mural Walk. The Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame includes Hall of Fame Inductees as well as CCMA Award Winning Artists.

True country music fans will want to start the downtown mural tour at Merritt’s National Attraction. The Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame, situated on Quilchena Avenue in The Country Music Capital of Canada.

The Merritt Mural Project was created in 2005. The Merritt BC Murals were part of a successful program called, the “Merritt Youth Mural Project”. A project designed for working with local young artists and “ youth at risk”. Merritt Murals were painted by muralist Michelle Loughery.

“It is important for Merritt to continue to grow as the Country Music Capital of Canada.” (Ron Sanders President: Country Music Hall Of Fame)

Walk Of Stars Hand Prints

In addition, while on your mural tour, visit the many handprints of country artists situated throughout the town.

Hundred’s of International Country Music Artists have performed at the annual Merritt Mountain Music Festival. As a result, those stars  left their mark permanently, by placing their handprints (or, in one case, footprints) and signatures in concrete stars. As a result, in 2003, those stars became the basis for the Merritt Walk of Stars. In addition, by 2005 more than 100 bronzed stars, created from the concrete impressions, were displayed throughout the community. (Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame)

Above all, the handprints will continue to grow with the Rockin River Music Fest, and add to the existing legacy of the stars that have visited and performed in Merritt, BC.

“If you love Country Music…. All over the downtown area are painted murals of Country Music Stars. Also on the sidewalks are plaques of Country Music stars who have apparently visited and played in Merritt. A worthwhile walk around the town to see.” (Melody K. Montana USA)

Discover and experience the natural beauty and attractions in Merritt and the Nicola Valley!

Follow Canadian Country Music Singer – Ian Tyson

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Buffy Sainte-Marie Country Icon

Canadian Country Music Hall Of Fame Inductee On The Merritt, BC Mural Walk

Buffy Sainte-Marie Country Icon – Where and How It All Began

Merritt BC Canada Murals

Academy Award winner Buffy Sainte-Marie’s audacious attitude to life on and off the stage has inspired people around the world for over five decades. Buffy Sainte-Marie is truly a Country Music Icon.

Buffy was born Beverly Sainte-Marie on Feb. 20, 1941, on the Piapot Cree First Nation reserve in the Qu’Appelle Valley, Sask.

After the sudden deaths of both of her parents, Beverly was adopted by family relatives, Albert and Winifred Sainte-Marie, who were part Mi’kmaq.

Reserved as a child Sainte-Marie spent much of her childhood hiking through the woods writing poetry. She taught herself to play piano at age 3 and began setting her poems to music at the age of four.

“As a little kid when I was three, I discovered a piano and I found out it made noise and I was fascinated and taught myself how to do what I wanted to do on it.” (Buffy Sainte Marie)

Buffy Saint-Marie and Experience Nicola Valley blogger Melvina White / Painted by Michelle Loughery

The Piano and Guitar

Once she discovered a piano and found out it made noise, it fascinated her. Teaching herself how to do what she wanted to do on it. She could play fake Beethoven, as well as do other things with strange chords that other people didn’t use but she liked.

At 16, she taught herself guitar which would become her instrument of choice. Ultimately inventing 32 different ways of tuning the instrument, creating sounds and techniques completely unique to her music.

Buffy was so inquisitive that she would even take apart the vacuum cleaner and try to create her own headphones, by hooking its tubes to the broken record player.

Sainte-Marie majored in teaching as well as Oriental Philosophy at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 1959. Graduating in the top ten of her class in 1963.

Buffy Sainte-Marie Country Music Hall of Fame

The Search For Heritage

Buffy’s teen years were difficult. Although her adoptive mother was half Mi’kmaq Indian. Buffy grew up knowing little about Indian history or about her own people. In her mid teens, she  began researching her Indigenous heritage. She took a trip to the Piapot Reserve in Saskatchewan’s Qu’Appelle River Valley, to learn more about the Cree firsthand.

“In 1964, on a return trip to the Piapot Cree reserve in Canada for a powwow, she was welcomed and (in a Cree Nation context) adopted by the youngest son of Chief Piapot, Emile Piapot and his wife, Clara Starblanket Piapot, who added to Sainte-Marie’s cultural value and place in native culture.” – Wikipedia

The warm welcome she received from her Cree relatives left her with a deep impression. She discovered a greater sense of security as well as a community better than she had ever known.

 New Music Experiences

“My teachers told me music was lines and notes and paper”

My teachers told me music was lines and notes and paper. I never disagreed with them. I just learned to keep my head down and avoid conflict. Then I’d go home and play my own fake-classical music.”

Sainte Marie started playing songs for the girls in her dorm as well as her housemother Theresa de Kerpely, who was from Europe. Theresa encouraged me to listen to singers from other countries.

So, from the start of playing for other people, I was absorbing and reflecting, on a very wide world culture. International students at the university were a big influence on me.”

New York City

Sainte-Marie’s friends encouraged her to perform publicly and eventually she found herself in New York City in the early days of the counterculture movement. She tried her hand at song writing and began singing in coffeehouses in Greenwich Village. As a result Bob Dylan heard her sing and urged her to perform at the Gaslight, a famed folkie hangout..

 It wasn’t long and she was playing around the world at folk festivals, coffee houses, concert venues and in fact Indigenous communities. Buffy Sainte – Marie was becoming a country icon

She was already performing “Universal Soldier” in these coffeehouses in 1963, but she was banned from singing it on the radio and TV. Donovan would make it a huge hit and help it crossover into the mainstream in 1965. (Andrea Warner)

Buffy developed bronchial pneumonia and almost ruined her voice. While recovering from the infection, she became addicted to codeine. On the other hand her subsequent struggle to get clean became the basis for her song, “Cod’ine.”

Sainte-Marie’s first record, It’s My Way!, was released in 1964.

The album included “Universal Soldier.” A song that is about individual responsibility for war and how the old feudal thinking kills us all.”  The song was popular becoming  a peace anthem with the anti-Vietnam War movement.

Songs Singing A Statement

“I wasn’t concentrating on myself as a singer.” “I probably should have been concentrating more.” “Later on, I learned to sing.”

Sainte-Marie doesn’t sugar coat the truth, nor does she shy away from hard realities. The songs that she was writing, she thought people should hear, but also deserved to hear. Buffy  knew she was reflecting some points of view that weren’t being verbalized. But they were being felt by fellow students.  Titles included topics about Native American stuff. As well as love songs with more feeling and depth than just ‘I’m going to die if I don’t get you in bed tonight.

At the time, she didn’t consider herself much of a singer, but audiences loved her. Billboard even named Sainte-Marie the best new artist of 1964. The songs were the source of her confidence. Buffy Sainte – Marie was a country icon.

Buffy didn’t think she was much of a singer. Although this may be true, it was  because of the songs, and their statements, she had the nerve to step out onto a stage and sing the people the songs.

Buffy Sainte-Marie Singing

Sudden Fame Overwhelming For Buffy Sainte-Marie Country Icon

The sudden fame was overwhelming for Buffy.  She went to Spain to spend three months alone. She didn’t tell anyone, not even her manager. He found out where she was when he got her bills for the tickets.

Since her ground-breaking debut, It’s My Way!, the Cree singer-songwriter was a trailblazer and a tireless advocate, an innovative artist, and a disrupt or of the status quo. This was a much needed get your head on straight break for Buffy. When she got back it was full steam ahead with no signs of slowing down.

The End of The 60’s Era

“I wanted to give people Indian 101 in six minutes.”

In 1965, she released her second record, Many a Mile. It featured the commercial hit, Until It’s Time for You to Go. The song became a big hit for Elvis Presley in the early 70s. As a matter of fact. More than 200 artists ultimately covered the song. (Including Cher, Willie Nelson, Barbra Streisand and others) in 16 languages.

Sainte-Marie’s third album, 1966′s “Little Wheel Spin and Spin”, indicated the future direction of her music. Little Wheel made room for the electric guitar as well as some string arrangements, and it became her first album to reach the Billboard Top 100 Pop Charts, peaking at 97.(Andrea Warner)

It also features the heartbreaking song. “My Country ‘Tis of Thy People You’re Dying”. I wanted to give people Indian 101 in six minutes.”  It’s a long song. But Indian 101 has never been presented to the North American public, let alone anywhere else.”(Andrea Warner)

Buffy Sainte-Marie Country Icon 1967 Features

 1967’s Fire & Fleet & Candlelight.  Sainte-Marie’s fourth record, featured a full rock band. Not only with orchestration but also  two covers of Joni Mitchell songs, including “The Circle Game.”

In fact, Sainte-Marie helped Joni Mitchell get her break: “Joni also came from Saskatchewan and was being ignored by the folk bosses who ran the record companies.

Buffy Sainte-Marie Country Icon 1968 Hi Light’s

Later that same year, Billboard labeled Sainte-Marie the patron saint of “non-hippy hipsters,” based on her show at the Philharmonic, where she received a 10-minute standing ovation from the crowd.

“Chet told me that one time somebody asked him if he could read music and his answer was, ‘Not enough to hurt my playing.”I loved that! It always stuck with me and gave me the confidence to know that my way of playing music is okay.” (Buffy Sainte-Marie, Chet Atkins)

Sainte-Marie worked with acclaimed country musician and producer Chet Atkins. For her fifth album, in 1968 “I’m Gonna Be a Country Girl Again”. She has talked  a little about their friendship and how they bonded over playing and writing by ear rather than reading music.

Buffy Sainte-Marie and Chet Atkins – Nashville Airport 1968

That year, Sainte-Marie was asked to appear on an episode of the TV western, the Virginian. In the write-up of Sainte-Marie’s biography, It’s My Way!, she made two demands when director Leo Penn, (Sean Penn’s father) came calling:

“First, she insisted that the studio cast Native actors for all the Indian parts (‘No Indians, no Buffy’). She also advocated that the writers bring complexity to her own role. She told them, ‘[I’m] not interested in playing Pocahontas.'” (Buffy Sainte-Marie)/Leo Penn)

Buffy Sainte-Marie Country Icon The Close of 1969

“At a certain point, I realized that I was too early with some songs. Other times, I was right on time.” (Buffy Sainte-Marie)

1969’s Illuminations was wildly experimental, electronic and a huge flop. But it was also totally ahead of its time.

 “It wasn’t until many years later that [1969’s synth-heavy] Illuminations was named ‘one of the albums that set the world on fire’ [by The Wire magazine].

The album also featured her beautiful collaboration with fellow Canadian, Leonard Cohen, in which she set his poem, “God is Alive Magic is Afoot,” to music.

Merritt BC Murals Selfie Photo

Buffy Sainte-Marie Country Icon 1970’s Era Of Movies and TV Soundtracks

Sainte-Marie started getting more involved with movie and TV soundtracks. 1970’s Performance is a super weird little film starring Mick Jagger, with music by Jack Nitzche (Sainte-Marie’s future collaborator and husband). This  tune from Performance features Sainte-Marie and Ry Cooder.

“The Circle Game”, Joni Mitchell’s cover was in the opening credits, of the 1970 film. “The Strawberry Statement”, about the counterculture and student protests of the ’60s.

Buffy wrote the title song in 1970 for the film Soldier Blue, which depicted the brutal slaughter of the Cheyenne village by Colorado State Militia.

Sesame Street

In late 1975, Sainte-Marie was asked to guest star on Sesame Street. At first she said, she had no interest in doing a children’s TV show, but reconsidered after asking “Have you done any Native American programming?” She ended up, appearing regularly on Sesame Street from 1976 to 1981.

“Indians still exist”. “We are not all dead and stuffed in museums like the dinosaurs. With the help of Big Bird and Oscar and friends, we put out this simple message of reality three times a day to the children of 73 countries of the world, providing them with positive realities, before racism and stereotyping ever had a chance to set in.” (Buffy Sainte Marie”)

Dulcey Singer, the producer wanted her to count and recite the alphabet. Of course Buffy had her own idea and  wanted to teach the show’s young viewers that, “Indians Still Exist”.  She regularly appeared on Sesame Street over a five-year period, breastfeeding her first son, Dakota “Cody” Starblanket Wolfchild, during a 1977 episode. As a matter of fact, it was the first representation of breastfeeding, ever aired on television. Sesame Street even aired a week of shows from her home in Hawaii in January 1978.

Buffy Sesame Street Breast Feeding

The Albums Continue Throughout the 1970’s

Sainte-Marie’s record label put significant pressure on her to do something more commercially viable for her seventh album. Because Illuminations tanked so bad financially. She released “She Used to Wanna Be a Ballerina”, in 1971.

Sainte-Marie released enough records between 1964 and 1969 that  she had enough material for her first “Best of” compilation album. And there was enough left over that she was able to release a “Best of” volume two in 1971.

In 1979, Spirit of the Wind, featuring Sainte-Marie’s original musical score including the song “Spirit of the Wind”, was one of three entries that year at the Cannes Film Festival. The film is a docudrama about George Attla, the ‘winningest dog musher of all time,’ as the film presents him, with all parts played by Native Americans except one by Slim Pickens. The film showed on cable TV, in the early 1980s.  It released in France in 2003.

Buffy Sainte-Marie

Buffy Sainte-Marie Country Icon The Decade Of The 1980’s

Sainte-Marie was using Apple and Macintosh computers as early as 1981 to record her music. Buffy co-wrote the song “Up Where We Belong”. With Will Jennings and musician Jack Nitzsche. Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes performed it for the film An Officer and a Gentleman. It received the Academy Award for Best Song in 1982. Cliff Richard and Anne Murray later covered the song on Cliff’s album of duets, Two’s Company.

In the early 1980s one of her native songs was the theme song for the CBC’s native series Spirit Bay. She appeared in the TNT 1993 telefilm The Broken Chain. It took place entirely in Virginia. In 1989 she wrote as well as performed, the music for Where the Spirit Lives. A film about native children being abducted and forced into residential schools.

The Decade Of The 1990’s

Sainte-Marie voiced the Cheyenne character, Kate Bighead, in the 1991 made-for-TV movie Son of the Morning Star, telling the Indian side of the Battle of the Little Bighorn, where Lt. Col. George Custer was killed.

In 1992, after a sixteen-year recording hiatus. Sainte-Marie released the album Coincidence and Likely Stories.  Recorded in 1990 at her home in Hawaii, on her computer. She sent the recording  to producer Chris Birkett in London, England. The album included the politically charged songs “The Big Ones Get Away” as well as “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee”.

Also in 1992, Sainte-Marie appeared in the television film The Broken Chain. Her next album followed up in 1996 with Up Where We Belong, an album on which she re-recorded a number of her greatest hits in a more unplugged and acoustic versions, as well as including a re-release of “Universal Soldier”.

Buffy Sainte-Marie Songwriter Hall of Fame

Art In The Mix

Glenbow Museum in CalgaryWinnipeg Art GalleryEmily Carr Gallery in Vancouver as well as the American Indian Arts Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico, all display Buffy Sainte Marie’s art.

In 1995, Buffy’s Music and voice was the feature of an episode of HBO’s Happily Ever After. It is an animated cartoon series of fairy tales for children. Buffy was the feature in the episode about Snow White  also titled “White Snow”. White Snow is a young Native American Princess who is saved by a young Native American Prince. Buffy wrote the theme song and also sings the song and is the voice of the mirror on the wall.

“Every word is true,” Emily says in the introduction”

In 1995, the Indigo Girls released two versions of Sainte-Marie’s protest song “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” on their live album 1200 Curfews. Recorded at the Atwood Concert Hall in the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts in Anchorage, Alaska. “Every word is true,” Emily says in the introduction. The studio recording is the second version, on disc two.

The Decade of The 2000’s

In 2002, a track written and performed by Sainte-Marie, titled “Lazarus”, was sampled by Hip Hop producer Kanye West.  Cam’Ron and Jim Jones of The Diplomats performed it . The track is called “Dead or Alive”.

In June 2007, she made a rare U.S. appearance at the Clearwater Festival in Croton-on-Hudson, New York.

In 2008, a two-CD set titled Buffy/Changing Woman/Sweet America: The Mid-1970s Recordings released, compiling the three studio albums that she recorded, for ABC Records and MCA Records between 1974 and 1976 (after departing her long-time label Vanguard Records). The first re-release of this material. Meanwhile making a comeback to the music scene in Canada, in September 2008.  At the same time, it resulted in the release of her studio album Running for the Drum. Produced by Chris Birkett (producer of her 1992 and 1996 best of albums).

Between 1997 and 2009, Sainte-Marie dedicated her time and money to the Cradle board Teaching Project. She traveled extensively, performing during this time in Sweden, Denmark and France.  In addition she appeared at the Ottawa Folk Festival in 2002. Universal Soldier,” her signature song,  was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2005.

Buffy Sainte-Marie

More of The 2000’s

Buffy independently released Running for the Drum (2008), a collection of 12 new songs. It featured American blues musician Taj Mahal on piano and won the 2009 Juno Award for Aboriginal Recording of the Year, as well as four Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards.

Buffy Sainte-Marie: A Multimedia Life (2006), an hour-long documentary featuring archival footage and interviews with several well-known musicians, was also nominated for a 2009 Juno Award for Music DVD of the Year.

The Decade of The 2010’s

Sainte-Marie has lived in Hawaii for many years but continues to record and tour well into her seventies. Her album Power in the Blood (2015), recorded on her Gypsy Boy label and distributed by True North Records, won the 2015 Polaris Music Prize as well as 2016 Juno Awards for Aboriginal Album and Contemporary Roots Album of the Year. Sainte-Marie was also featured on the single re-mix of her song “Working for the Government” by fellow Polaris nominee A Tribe Called Red, and received the Spirit of Americana/Free Speech in Music Award from the Americana Music Association in 2015. (Canadian Encyclopedia)

Sainte-Marie’s 19th album, Medicine Songs (2017), features a mix of new material, such as “You Got to Run (Spirit of the Wind),” a collaboration with Tanya Tagaq, and re-recorded older songs, including “Starwalker,” “Little Wheel Spin and Spin” and “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.” The album drew positive reviews, with NOW magazine’s Michael Rancic observing, “Another artist might show signs of disappointment or uncertainty when faced with the notion that not much has changed in half a century, but on Medicine Songs, in the face of the unchanging nature of the oppression she’s expressed through her music, Buffy Sainte-Marie has chosen to be just as determined, unflinching and constant in her own art.” Medicine Songs went on to win the 2018 Juno Award for Indigenous Music Album of the Year. (Canadian Encyclopedia)

Buffy Sainte-Marie Country Icon Biography

In 2012, Blair Stonechild’s award-winning biography, Buffy Sainte-Marie: It’s My Way, was published by Fifth House.

Years of Awards of Buffy Sainte-Marie Country Icon

Juno Awards

•Inductee, Canadian Music Hall of Fame (1995)
•Best Music of Aboriginal Canada Recording (Up Where We Belong) (1997)
•Aboriginal Recording of the Year (Running for the Drum) (2009)
•Aboriginal Album of the Year (Power in the Blood) (2016)
•Contemporary Roots Album of the Year (Power in the Blood) (2016)
•Allan Waters Humanitarian Award (2017)
•Indigenous Music Album of the Year (Medicine Songs) (2018)

Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards

•Lifetime Achievement Award (2008)
•Album of the Year (Running for the Drum) (2009)
• Female Artist (2009)
• Song Single (“No No Keshagesh”) (2009)
• Songwriter (2009)

Aboriginal Peoples Choice Music Awards

• Folk/Acoustic CD (Running for the Drum) (2009)
• Music Video (“No No Keshagesh”) (2010)

Others

 New Artist, Billboard magazine (1964)
Academy Awards Original Song, (1983)
Golden Globe Awards Original Song, (1983)
British Academy of Film & Television Arts (BAFTA) Award Original Song, (1984)
International Artist, Charles de Gaulle Award (1993)
Lifetime Achievement Award, Saskatchewan Recording Industry Association (1994)
Native American Philanthropist of the Year (1997)
Best Performance in a Variety Program or Series (Buffy Sainte-Marie: Up Where We Belong), Gemini Awards (1997)
Officer, Order of Canada (1997)

The Awards Keep Coming

 Contemporary Gospel Recorded Song of the Year, Dove Awards (1998)
American Indian College Fund Lifetime Achievement Award, (1998)
Lifetime Achievement Award, National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation (1998)
Inductee, Canada’s Walk of Fame (1999)
Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal, Government of Canada (2002) – (2012)
Inductee (“Universal Soldier”), Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame (2005)
Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame Inductee, (2009)
Governor General’s Performing Arts Award, Government of Canada (2010)
Spirit of Americana/Free Speech in Music Award, Americana Music Association (2015)
Polaris Music Prize (Power in the Blood) (2015)
Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame Inductee,(2019)
Companion, Order of Canada (2019)

Doctor Honorary Degrees

• Fine Arts, University of Massachusetts (1983)

Laws
  • Regina University (1996)
  • Carleton University (2008)
  • Vancouver Island University (2016)
  • Lethbridge University of  (2017)
  • Dalhousie University (2018)Letters
Letters
  • Lakehead University (2000)
  • Emily Carr University of Art and Design (2007)
  • Wilfrid Laurier University (2010)
  • University of British Columbia (2012)
  • Humanities, University of Saskatchewan (2003)
  • Music, University of Western Ontario (2009)
  • Fine Arts, Ontario College of Art and Design (2010)

Canadian Songwriter’s Hall Of Fame

“I’m honoured to be recognized in the company of so many Canadian songwriters that have inspired me.” (Buffy Sainte-Marie)

Cree singer, songwriter, educator AND social activist Buffy Sainte-Marie, was an inductee into the Canadian Songwriter’s Hall of Fame at the SOCAN Awards in Toronto, on April 1, 2019

Merritt BC Murals

Buffy Sainte-Marie Country Icon Featured on The Merritt, BC Mural Walls

“I never set out to be courageous or political, I just wanted to tell my stories as authentically as possible, and bring light to the truth.”

Buffy Sainte-Marie has earned countless awards during her 50 plus years as a singer songwriter, musician, indigenous rights activist and educator.

Although we are proud of all her awards, the award Merritt, BC Canada is most proud of is her induction into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame in 2009.

Even though Buffy has never entertained us in Merritt. Her music as well as her presence is heartfelt within the community in more ways than one. Buffy’s induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame is telling the story of her music and the challenges she has faced over the years.

Sainte-Marie’s career isn’t just defined by a 50-year span of making popular music. She has also been an advocate for indigenous people throughout the artistry of her songs.  The outspoken words of Sainte-Marie led to her being allegedly blacklisted from radio stations in America by Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon. Despite the blacklisting, Sainte-Marie continued to experiment with music and technologies, using an early synthesizer to record her 1969 album, Illuminations, and again later using Apple II and Macintosh computers in the 80s.

Buffy Sainte-Marie

Visit Buffy Sainte-Marie’s Mural In Downtown Merritt, BC Canada

Buffy’s mural can be found on a row of Murals at the Corner of Granite and Voght Street in behind the stage at Spirit Square.

It is a great honor to have her in The Country Music Hall of Fame and her Mural on our Mural Walk in Downtown Merritt, BC Canada.

The 78-year-old performer also has several Junos, a Polaris Prize, a Governor General’s Performing Arts Award, and is an Officer of the Order of Canada. This is a small mention of the awards she has earned. This blog is also only a portion of what she has accomplished.

Buffy is still performing and can be followed On:

Website: http://buffysainte-marie.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BuffySainteMarie/

Rockin’ River Fest 2019 in Merritt BC, Canada

Take Me To The Rockin’ River Fest 2019 in Merritt, BC, Canada

 

 Rockin’ River  Fest 2019 in Merritt B.C. Canada. A country music festival that takes place annually, on the BC Day long weekend, in Merritt, BC – incidentally the community is also the ‘Country Music Capital of Canada’.

“Rockin’ River Fest 2019 in Merritt BC, Canada. “

With wonderful campgrounds all along the pristine Coldwater River that meanders through the grounds.

Great music joined with Merritt BC’s beautiful pristine Coldwater River makes a great weekend of “Pure Country Fun”. The Rockin River Fest 2019 in Merritt BC Canada.

Rockin River employees make it look easy. Very organized.

Equally important is how organized the workers at the gates were.

Majestic view surrounding the Valley.

Parking Available.

If you haven’t experienced riding the “Bus” than you truly haven’t experienced “Rockin’ River Fest 2019 in Merritt BC, Canada. ”

Riding the “Bus”.

Introducing Kenny Hess

Born in Outlook, Saskatchewan and raised in the small town of Fernie BC, Kenny was the middle child of a large working class family of 6 brothers and 2 sisters. Kenny Hess has now been a part of the music industry since the 80’s when he started a life of making music for a living.

When Kenny Hess hit the stage, the crowd went wild!

Furthermore with several songs reaching the top 40 nationally and 14 critically acclaimed CDs. Kenny has also been nominated for Canadian Country Music Awards, and has won several BC country music awards including Male vocalist of the year, and Album of the year

Icons!

Local Merritt Country Singer Bobby Garcia. Rockin’ River Fest 2019 in Merritt BC, Canada.

Bobby Garcia was born and raised in Merritt BC. He has deep roots in traditional country music which he writes and sings about in his latest album These Boots. An up and coming country music artist Bobby loves singing and performing at local festivals and venues across British Columbia.  Check out the album These Boots on iTunes, Spotify and Google music. “Rockin’ River Fest 2019 in Merritt BC, Canada. “

 

These Boots.

Bobby Garcia n Six More Strings at Merritt Rockin River 2019.

Coupled with breathtaking scenery and amazing music “Rockin’ River Fest 2019 in Merritt BC, Canada. ” commits to everyone having a whole lot of fun.

A perfect place to spend a BC Day long weekend – for music lovers, families, young people, retirees, campers, RV enthusiasts, sports and outdoor fans.

Exciting weekend for all at “The Rockin’ River Music Fest” in Merritt BC. Canada. Thursday is the night for Merritt locals to enjoy a night of great entertainment.

Rockin’ River Music Fest works hard to provide an experience everyone will remember for years.

Additionally the Rockin River participants are truly the stars!

All the way from Saskatchewan!

First night of River Rockin Fest!

Not to mention the people from other Provinces who attended  “Rockin’ River Fest 2019 in Merritt BC, Canada. ”

All the way from Prince Albert Saskatchewan. Cowboy Hat “check”, Jean Jacket “check”, along with a beautiful smile, all in order for a great time!

In case you feel like riding a “Bull”, a mechanical “Bull” that is.

8 seconds on a “mechanical” bull.

This is not an easy ride.

Many activities to choose from while at Rockin’ River Fest 2019 in Merritt BC, Canada.

A little help from a friend!

Regardless, watching from ground level or high in the stands the experience is astronomical.

Up in the stands, what a view!

Many happy spectators!

Together with great friends is pure “Fun”, at Rockin River Merritt BC 2019.

A great night to meet a long time friend.

Great friends having a good time.

 

Never fear, friends are near!

Friends enjoying Rockin River!

Merritt Rockin River Festee’s!

Beautiful smile = beautiful time.

What a great night to celebrate your Birthday!

Owing a big Cheer to Kenny Hess

Perfect entertainer to start the weekend off!

For example Kenny Hess can “Rock” the stage.

Kenny Hess playing Johnny Cash.

To repeat “Everyone”  truly loved Kenny Hess’s performance.

Kenny Hess

Furthermore Brett Kissel also graced the stage at Rockin River 2019.

Brett Kissel

Brett Kissel is a Canadian country singer who is recognized for pure country songs such as, “Canadian Kid”, “Drink, Cuss or Fish”, including “Hockey Please Come Back”.

 

Kissel recorded his first album, Keepin’ It Country, when he was 12 years old. The youngest CCMA nominee in the history of the awards show, which he received at the age of 16.

An amazing Canadian Country Music Artist, Brett Kissel.

Dancing to Brett Kissel at River Rockin 2019.

Rockin River Music Fest Merritt BC.

The Rockin’ River Music Fest in Merritt BC. Canada. Country music festival that takes place annually, on the BC Day long weekend, in Merritt, BC, Canada. A great summertime experience for the whole family. Rumor has it that Keith Urban will be performing at Rockin River 2020 in Merritt BC.  My hat n boots will be ready! Mark your Calendar!

Keith Urban. www.zimbio.com/photos/

Merritt BC, Canada Rockin’ River Fest 2019

Country Music is in the Nicola Valley in Canada

Merritt BC Canada MuralsCrystal Shawanda – Canadian Singer

“Dawn of a New Day”(Crystal’s name in Ojibwe)

“I would spin the records while she cleaned and we would both sing at the top of our lungs,” (Crystal Shawanda)

Crystal Shawanda Canadian Singer, grew up on the Wikwemikong Reserve on an island in Ontario. Shawanda was born in Wiikwemkoong First Nation, Manitoulin Island, Ontario, July 26, 1983. She spent her youth in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, where she attended Korah Collegiate.

The Beginning Of The Road To The Dream

Shawanda learned music early on as a kid by observing her family. Crystal’s parents raised her on country music as well as taught her to sing and play guitar.

Shawanda used to go with her mother when she cleaned houses. To make the time pass, she would be the DJ.

“I would spin the records while she cleaned and we would both sing at the top of our lungs,” she said. I remember holding up a Loretta Lynn record and saying, ‘Whatever she does, that’s what I want to do.”

She started singing on stage when she was 6, and getting paid gigs when she was 10. This was the beginning of playing every stage she could, including touring with a theatre company when she was 9.

When Crystal was 12, because her dad was a truck driver, she started taking frequent trips to Nashville. As a result she would walk through downtown Nashville, by all the honky-tonks. I’d get up to sing at everyone of them and then we’d get back in the truck and leave. It always kept me wanting more.

These trips lead to her first album when she was 13. She attended  music school that same year, dropping out after 3 years. She was 16 years old.

The Crushed Dream

“I just don’t know if Native Americans make sense in country music, I don’t know if fans would be receptive, and I wouldn’t even know how to market you” (respected music executive)

After dropping out of music school, Crystal moved to Nashville. Even though, she did not know a soul, and was all alone she was determined to make something happen. She met a well respected music executive, who told her there was no room for her in country music. She tried to find a positive in the critique as well as take it with gracefulness, but the words stung too much which resulted in her moving back home, and giving up on her dream.

Merritt BC Murals Selfie Photo

A New Day

 “If I was out of tune I could take voice lessons, if my song was bad, I could write another, but I couldn’t change the color of my skin”. (Crystal Shawanda)

She started travelling down a dark road on a self destructive path. Somehow that road always had enough light to lead her back to the stage and microphone. A blessing that would help her see and come to terms with what she was dealing with.

New Days in 2008

All things considered, Crystal moved back to Nashville in 2008, with a mission, and a purpose. She played at Tootsie’s Orchid lounge 6 days a week, 3 shifts a day. She created a buzz and landed a production deal with Scott Hendricks. After hearing Crystal cover B.B.King and Janis Joplin a record deal was landed with RCA records by Joe Galante.

Crystal Shawanda Canadian Singer burst onto the country music scene with her hit single, “You Can Let Go,” and her debut album, “Dawn Of A New Day”. September 6th, 2008 marked the Grand Ole Opry debut of this Canadian Aboriginal beauty. Fans fell in love with this country sweetheart from across all borders.

Dawn of A New Day Album Cover

Dawn Of New Day

Shawanda’s first album, “Dawn of a New Day”, was released in Canada on June 24, 2008. It would release on Aug 19, 2008 in the United States. The album would chart at number 2 on the Top Country Albums in Canada, and number 16 on the Billboard Top Country Albums Chart in the United States. Her album was released in stores internationally, resulting in a top 16 song on the American Billboard Chart.

Her story,  female artist who travels to Nashville with a single suitcase, is a common one. However big dreams, and even a bigger voice struck a chord and landed her a ton of success. Following the path of many females before her, Shawanda did not give up.

Award Clean Up In 2008

Aboriginal People’s Choice Awards 2008 

 Aboriginal Awards 2008

  • Artist of The year
  •  Album of The Year (Dawn of A New Day)
  •  Best Single of The Year (You Can Let Go)

Canadian Aboriginal Awards 2008

  •  Artist of The year
  •  Album of The Year (Dawn of A New Day)
  •  Country Album of The Year
  •  Music Video of The Year (You Can Let Go)
  • Best Single of The Year (You Can Let Go)

CCMA Awards

She won Female Artist of The Year at the 2008 Canadian Country Music Awards as well as Best New Country Artist at the Canadian Radio Music Awards.

The Junos

Crystal Shawanda Canadian Singer, was nominated for a Juno Award,  five consecutive years since 2009, winning Aboriginal Album Of the Year.

Living The Dream

“I want to inspire people to just take chances, “she said. “It’s not about being perfect, if you love something, go after it.” (Crystal Shawanda)

CMT documented Crystal Shawanda Canadian Singer, rise to fame in a six-part series Crystal: Living the Dream, which started broadcasting in February 2008.

Crystal Living The Dream

“When I first heard her sing, I almost fell over. (Phyllis Elliot)

The music scene loves Crystal Shawanda. The realization of how far she’s come, manifested when her feet touched down on Nashville’s country music epicentre- the Grand Ole Opry. “It was definitely the highlight of my whole journey,” she said.

Phyllis Ellis, writer and director of Crystal Shawanda: Living the Dream, said working with Shawanda and visiting her First Nation roots was a benefit to her work and life. “When I first heard her sing, I almost fell over. She is one of the most talented artists I think I’ve ever heard.”

Ellis believes Shawanda is a role model for all young people- Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal alike. She said the songs provoke insight, experience and humour. “Her music is direct. It is not obscure. She addresses things.” Calling Shawanda an “old soul,” Ellis described her as having the “knowledge of a 80-year-old. She is complex, honest and has integrity.”

Realizing She Reached The Dream In The Country Music Scene

 Shawanda said, it was at the CMT Music Awards, when she shared the stage with such country stars as Martina McBride, Brooks and Dunn and Carrie Underwood, that she realized she had reached her Country goals and dream.

Shawanda toured with various artists across Canada and the northern United States in 2008. She toured Canada and the United States with Brad Paisley and Dierks Bentley as a special guest on the Paisley Party 2009 Tour.

In spite of her success on the country music scene, she released one more country album “Just Like You” in 2014 that resulted in a Juno Award, and a top 20 hit in Canada. In addition the opportunity to perform for millions in New York City for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, televised internationally.

Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame

The Switch To Blues

“You’re too bluesy” I so wanted to be what everyone wanted me to be(Crystal Shawanda)

As the format of country music started to change Crystal found the feedback to be a resounding “your too bluesy”, and this had her chasing her sound. “I so wanted to be what everyone wanted me to be, I lost myself along the way”.

While in the studio working on her third country album, she made the decision to abandon the project and take some time off.

Crystal learned at an early age that the Blues were all about release and healing. While she was out on stage singing Patsy and Loretta.  In the background behind the scenes she was singing the blues.

It was her oldest brother who introduced her to the blues. He would hang out in the basement cranking Muddy Waters, B.B.King, and Etta James. Crystal would sit at the top of the stairs, straining to hear the soulful sounds, wondering if she could ever sing like that. In spite of her self doubt, when no one was home, Crystal would practice singing the blues. (Wikipedia)

Chasing The Blues Dream

”The songs just fell out of me and it was like setting my voice free” (Crystal Shawanda)

One day during her hiatus while watching the news and feeling overwhelmed by the headlines, she wrote “The Whole World’s Got The Blues”. This was the inspiration to her first blues album. It was a modern take on the blues, but deep rooted. It captures the resilience of the human spirit, much like the way Crystal does.

The album garnered a Juno nomination, and received mixed reviews, with moderate airplay, but it opened a whole new world to Crystal and would lead the way for her to secure her musical identity and still hold the title, Crystal Shawanda Canadian Singer.

During this time some of the feedback was that Crystal was a country music artist, and couldn’t know the blues. This had her feeling like a fish out of water, which would result in being the inspiration behind her second blues album “Fish out of water”. A mix of blues, and soulful roots, it was released in October 2016. Consequently the album was nominated for a Juno award, and  received some of the best reviews from the critics since her debut album.

The Dream Continues To Grow

The following year Shawanda had her first baby girl in February 2017. She was back on the road by April, performing at blues festivals, country music festivals, multi genre festivals, making her mark as a multi genre artist, but absolutely a bonafide blues mama.

She is claiming her identity in the music scene. “Voo Doo Woman”, produced by Crystal and her long time guitarist, and husband Dewayne Strobel, released in October, 2017. This album is a declaration, an affirmation “make no mistake, Crystal Shawanda is a true blues singer”. Fierce and fearless, her vocals powerful, she lands where she means to, always doing it her way.

Crystal Shawanda is a soulful little powerhouse, and will make you feel every word. With a voice that’s not like anyone you’ve ever heard, it’s pure and precise, yet at the same time gritty and gutsy .

“I can’t help but feel like I’m home, no longer holding back.” (Crystal Shawanda”

 Voodoo Woman is Crystal’s third blues album – and the first to be released outside of Canada.

Melvina White – Experience Nicola Valley Country Music Blogger / Painted by Michelle Loughery

 

The Road to The Mural Wall In Merritt, BC

“I was just blown away and touched.” (Crystal Shawanda)

Crystal Shawanda, referred to as the next Shania Twain at the time, topping the Canadian country music charts with “My Roots are Showing”, graced the main stage of The Merritt Mountain Music Festival in 2009.

I was worried because it was starting to get cold and starting to rain right before our show. I thought, oh no, they’re all going to start heading to their campers and their motorhomes, and to my surprise I came out — at this point it was pouring rain — and everybody was just sitting in their seats.

Smiling Crystal  called out if everyone was feeling rowdy tonight? Not so much. They were getting soaked out there. The result was her biggest ovation for her “You Can Let Go Now Daddy” hit. I was blown away and touched that they sat through the storm.

It was after this performance at the 2009 Merritt Mountain Music Festival that, Crystal had her mural painted by Michelle Loughery. The Merritt Mural Project was created in 2005. The Merritt BC Murals were part of a successful program called, the “Merritt Youth Mural Project”. A project designed for working with local young artists and “ youth at risk”.

The Crystal Shawanda mural is included on The Canadian Country Music Mural Walk in downtown Merritt, BC. Crystal’s mural can be found in Spirit Square on the corner of Granite Avenue and Voght Street, in a row of murals near the stage. Crystal was honored to have this mural of herself done and signed it with love.

Back To Merritt, BC For The Rodeo

Record labels are closing and people are losing record deals, but as long as someone listens to my music, I’m happy. “It could be for 10,000 people, it could be for 10 people, as long as I get to sing I’ll be good.”

 

Crystal Shawanda

Shawanda came back to play The North America’s Richest Indian Rodeo held in Merritt at the Nicola Valley Rodeo Grounds on May 22, 2010

While she was keeping busy on a North American radio tour, she said she was excited to be playing Merritt again, where she will be able to meet up with old friends and hopefully make some new ones.

She played songs from her albums as well as songs she loves to sing from what she calls her heroes. Every show is always different. “That’s why we say if even if you’ve seen our show, come out again ’cause it’ll be a different one the next time.

I’ll cover Prince, Tina Turner, Johnny Cash, Hank Williams. I mean, it’s just like, what do I feel like singing tonight?”

Last Performance At The Infamous Merritt Mountain Music Festival

Crystal Shawanda’s show at the 17th annual Merritt Mountain Music Festival in 2011 was a treat as she played Prince’s Little Red Corvette. She definitely the first female artist to do the song. She again sang some of her album songs along with her heroes songs and closed out her performance to a roaring crowd.

Crystal has left her mark in Merritt and has returned for intimate appearances at various venues in Merritt since 2011, including NVIT.

She also performed at the 2017 Rockin River Music Fest held every August long weekend in Merritt, BC.

Visit downtown Merritt in the beautiful Nicola Valley and take part in the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame, Merritt, BC Mural Walk. The Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame includes Hall of Fame Inductees as well as CCMA Award Winning Artists.

Crystal is very active and still performing all over North America – Follow Her On:

Facebook

Website

You Tube

Instagram

 

Merritt BC Canada Downtown Mural Digital Walking Tour

Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame

Hall of Fame

Experience Nicola Valley Blog

Blog

Experience Nicola Valley

Travel Website

** Information resources includes the Crystal Shawanda’s website, Wikipedia page, and social media pages.

Nicola Valley Pro Rodeo and Fall Fair In Merritt BC

The Nicola Valley Pro Rodeo and Fall Fair is an Annual Tradition.

Don your hat and pull your boots on.

 

Nicola Valley Pro Rodeo and Fall Fair in Merritt BC Canada – The Nicola Valley Pro Rodeo will be held on Saturday, August 31st – Sunday, September 1st, 2019 in Merritt, British Columbia. Held at Nicola Valley Rodeo Association grounds here in Merritt.

Nicola Valley Pro Rodeo

Because pictures can tell a story, I wanted to add quotes that represented the cowboys, cowgirls, and everyone who loves to watch, admire, and cheer these amazing athletes on who truly love what they do. Enjoy the pictures along with Cowboy and Cowgirl Quotes.

 

Merritt Nicola Valley Pro Rodeo.

To Demonstrate How To Ride a Bull.

“If your not makin’ dust your eattin’ it”  Cricket,  June 3, 2008

Although It Looks Easy, She is Just That Good.

“If my boots and spurs ain’t here, I’m probably riding and drinking beer. Horses are God’s gift to cowgirls as an apology for men.” Andrea, June 3, 2009

To Be Sure You Have a Strong Grip.

“Learn this well, the last ride is never the last ride. And the end is not the end.” Richard Rowland

Furthermore This Takes Two.

“A Cowgirl is a woman with guts and horse.” TS

Subsequently The Saviours Are On Hand.

“A true cowboy knows love, pain and shame but never cares about fame.” Anonymous

Longest 8 Seconds Ever.

“The only good reason to ride a bull is to meet a nurse.” Anonymous

While Riding The Bull Is Hard, Getting Out of Danger Continues.

“Ride E’m Cowboy, don’t let them throw ya down.. You can’t make no money if ya hit the ground, Ride E’m Cowboy, don’t let them throw ya down, You’re the toughest Cowboy in town.” Juice Newton

Again, 8 Seconds.

“Pain and rodeo go hand in hand.” Snake, April 1, 2009

Granted They Make it Look Easy.

“It aint worth fussin’ about unless the bone is showin’ or you ain’t got no feelin’ in it…even then you should cowboy up and walk it off.” Mat, October 21, 2008

To Be Sure You Can Not Use Both Hands.

“If you haven’t fallen off a horse…then you haven’t been ridin long enough.” Unknown

Furthermore it Begins Early.

 

“I took to the life of a cowboy like a horse takes to oats.” Anonymous

“No man should have cowboys boots in his wardrobe. That’s fair enough, isn’t it? Unless you’re a cowboy, of course.” Paul Weller

Truly This Should Be An Olympic Sport.

“The horse is a mirror to your soul. And sometimes you might not like what you see in the mirror.” Buck Brannaman

Truly a Joy to Watch!

“Cowgirl Up! Means to rise to the occasion, not to give up, and to do it all without whining or complaining.” Whitney, November 9, 2008

Do Not Try This At Home.

 

“Some cowboys have to much tumbleweed in their blood to settle down.” Ken Alstad

The Next Time You Want to go Trail Riding, hold on. Tight!

“If you climb in the saddle, be ready for the ride.” Ashton Jennings, April 10, 2013

Can You Say Cute?

“A cowboy is a man with guts and a horse.” William James

Time to Run!

“Bull riding is probably the most dangerous sport in the world in terms of head injuries.” Jonathan Gottschall

Furthermore Bull Riding takes Guts!

“Rodeo careers can end without warning, as quick as the next try at an eight-second ride.” John Branch

To Demonstrate how Cowgirls Cool Off.

This is pure “Relaxation”

If it was easy, everyone would do it.

“When you’re young and you fall off a horse, you may break something. When you’re my age, you splatter.” Roy Rogers

This time I Got Err Done.

“True cowboys are the ones who aren’t afraid to get dirty.” Lane Frost

Moreover its all About the Spectators.

“A good old rodeo never hurt anyone.” Taylor Kitsch

When it Takes a Team.

“A real cowboy doesn’t have to say they are a cowboy you know, the smell, the expression and the heart tells itself. ” cowgirlmaine, November 19, 2009

When you are in the Bull Pen.

“There never was a cowboy who couldn’t be throwed; there never was a horse who couldn’t be rode.” Shaelynne, March 8, 2008

 

In Conclusion

The Nicola Valley Pro Rodeo will be held on Saturday, August 31st – Sunday, September 1st, 2019 in Merritt, British Columbia. Held at Nicola Valley Rodeo Grounds. Attending this event is truly a Nicola Valley Experience you wont forget.

Nicola Valley Pro Rodeo

CONTACT INFORMATION

Nicola Valley Rodeo Association
499 Lindley Creek Road,
Merritt, British Columbia

Phone
(250)-378-5059

E-mail
nicolavalleyrodeoassociation@gmail.com