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Merritt’s Murals

A Community Inspired Project

“In addition to painting larger than life murals of country music artists, the project also focused on providing local youth with skills development and employment opportunities”

Nothing defines Merritt more than its country roots. Officially recognized as the ‘Country Music Capital of Canada’, Merritt BC Canada is home to the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame, the Merritt Walk of Stars (over 70 handprints of famous country music stars – including Johnny Cash, Tim McGraw and the likes!), and to dozens of murals depicting country music’s greatest performers.

Merritt Walk Of Stars Society

In 2003 the Merritt Walk of Stars Society was established with the mandate to work with community members to increase tourism to the region through the promotion of country music. Beginning with the star handprints collected at the Merritt Mountain Music Festival (1993 – 2011), the Merritt Walk of Stars inspired by a similar project in Vernon, BC contracted mural artist Michelle Loughery, and started the Merritt Walk of Stars Youth Mural Project (2005-2011).

Local Youth Project

In addition to painting larger than life murals of country music artists, the project also focused on providing local youth with skills development and employment opportunities. The youth were an integral and inspiring part of the mural project. Not only did the youth participants assist with the painting of the murals, but they also worked on a variety of community-based projects.

Youth at Risk Mural Project in Nicola Valley

Photo Credit The Merritt Herald/Heather Thompson © copyright 2005

Community members rallied around the project – providing donations, work experience opportunities for the youth, and fundraising initiatives to support the project. Local aboriginal communities, municipal, provincial and federal governments, businesses, schools, and a wide-range of not for profit groups all supported the youth and the project. The Merritt mural project is more than just a Merritt Walk of Stars project (now the Canadian Country Music Heritage Society) – the Merritt mural project was, and continues to be, a community-based project that everyone in the community can claim as their own.

Merritt Walk of Stars

Photo Credit The Merritt Herald/Heather Thompson © copyright 2006

Merritt’s Murals Moving Forward

Today the iconic murals also play an important part of the community’s focus on tourism and economic development by continuing to draw many visitors to Merritt’s downtown. A recent initiative undertaken by the Merritt and Nicola Valley Destination Society, eh Canada Travel and the Canadian Country Music Heritage Society is bringing the murals to life through a digital walk.

You can take a digitally enabled and live walking tour of the murals by visiting downtown Merritt or you can take a virtual tour of the murals by visiting experiencenicolavalley.com.

Amber Papou worked with the Walk of Stars Society (2003-2011) and is currently an advisor to the Canadian Country Music Heritage Society.

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Paul Brandt – Merritt BC Murals

Merritt BC Canada Murals - Paul Brandt

Downtown Merritt Digital Walking Tour

“Yeah I’ve been Alberta Bound for all my life. And I’ll be Alberta Bound until I die” Paul Brandt

Paul Brandt is a country music artist featured on one of the Merritt Murals in Merritt BC Canada in the Nicola Valley. Therefore if you have never checked out the Merritt BC Murals then you should put it on your to-do list when visiting the Canadian Country Music Capital of Canada in Merritt BC Canada

Paul Brandt – Born Country

Paul Rennée Belobersycky, (aka Paul Brandt), was born on July 21st, 1972. By the same token if you live in Canada and listen to country music then you have most likely heard of Paul Brandt. Born in Calgary Alberta , Paul was raised approximately one hour away in Airdrie, Alberta, Canada. As a matter of fact Paul started his career as a nurse. He worked as a Pediatric RN until his hit song “My Heart has a History” from his debut album “Calm Before the Storm” made the country music charts in 1996.  

Rob Lee (Experience Nicola Valley / Mural Painted by Michelle Loughery

Paul Brandt Live In Merritt

Paul Brandt played in the Country Music Capital of Canada a couple times over the years. Therefore has gained a larger following within the region of the Nicola Valley. As a result Paul has been a popular performer playing twice at the Merritt Mountain Music Festival (now called the Rockin River Music Festival). He first played in 2005 and again in 2009. 

“Everything in my heart I’ll give you. Everything in my soul, it’s yours”, Paul Brandt 

A Country Music Career

In 1996, Paul Brandt entered the country music charts with his hit country music single “My Heart Has a History”. The break through country music hit song put him on the radar on the international stage. Consequently, this recognition propelled him to be the first male Canadian country musician to reach the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart in the United States in 24 years.

Paul Brandt’s History of Country Music

Brandt’s first attempt at country music came with his first demo with A&R records at the Warner Canada office.  In addition the demo was sent to their colleagues at Warner Nashville. To clarify, this was an attempt to find a country music singer of which the two branches could work together on. Paige Levy of Nashville A&R was impressed with the country music talent of Paul Brandt. As a result Paige Levy forwarded the demo to Hit Quarters in hopes of putting a larger spotlight on Paul Brandt and his potential as a songwriter.

On The Road To Nashville

Because of this increased exposure, Paul headed to Nashville to develop his style and country music talents. As a matter of fact, the move to Nashville helped spearhead some collaborative efforts in songwriting with some experienced country music stars. Ultimately it was a smart move as it elevated Paul’s song writing skills. Because of this focus on his song writing skills Paul created the album, “Calm before the Storm”. From there on in, the albums began to roll out. 

“Yeah I’ve been Alberta Bound for all my life. And I’ll be Alberta Bound until I die”, Paul Brandt

Brandt’s second album, “Outside the Frame”, album did not have the same success as “Calm Before the Storm”. Determination and a never-quit attitude fueled Paul’s passion for song writing and performing. This passion for country music led to his third album “Thats the Truth”. Three albums later in 2000 he released his Canada only album “What I want to be Remembered for”. And take it from me, there is plenty to remember about Paul Brandt. 

Brand-T Records Was Born

After this Paul started “Brand-T Records” with geat success. That is to say that his own label earned him numerous awards. It seems that being unsigned helped Paul Brandt up his game and produce an acoustic album, “Small Town and Big Dreams”.  In the light of his new direction, the album earned him the CCMA Album of the Year. But that was just the beginning.

Paul Brandt Selfie Photo

This Time Around For Paul Brandt

His follow up album, “This Time Around” earned Paul the CCMA Album of the Year and the song “That’s What I Love About Jesus” earned him a GMA Canada Covenant Award. In short, the album had legs as it went platinum in Canada. Consequently other hit songs were recognized on the air waves like “Leavin'”, featuring Keith Urban and his remake of  “Convoy”.  Lastly, from the same album, “Alberta Bound” was released. This song was a tribute to his home province of Alberta, Canada

Then Comes Risk 

The album, “Risk”, was released in 2007.  Soon later the Canadian Juno Awards came calling in April 2008 and awarded Paul the Country Recording of the Year.  Not to mention in May of 2007 the first single, “Didn’t Even See the Dust,” was released. Consequently you should know that in 2007 in Canada the single “Dust” was one of the 20 most played country music songs in the nation.

Life Is In The Song

The momentum kept building for Paul. In addition, in September 2011, he released the album “Give It Away”.  Soon later, in October 2012, he continued with the follow up gospel album named, “Just As I Am”.  In short, Paul’s collection of songs referred to many of his personal life stories detailing the story of  Paul’s childhood and growing up in Canada.  

Paul Brandt Inducted Into The Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame

Canadian Country Music Awards

Paul has been fortunate enough to win multiple awards including Male artist of the Year/Album of the Year and Videos of the Year. 

Canadian Country Music Awards (courtesy of Wikipedia)
  • SOCAN SIN Cng of the Year: “My Heart Has A History” 1996 
  • Male Artist Of The Year 1997 
  • SOCAN Song of the Year: “I Do” 1997 
  • Single Of The Year: “I Do” 1997 
  • Video Of The Year: “I Do” 1997 
  • Male Artist Of The Year 1998 
  • The Male Artist Of The Year 1999 
  • Male Artist Of The Year 2000 
  • Video Of The Year: “That’s The Truth” 2000 
  • Male Artist Of The Year 2002 
  • The Album of the Year: Small Towns and Big Dreams 2002 
  • Album of the Year: This Time Around 2005 
  • CMT Video of the Year: “Convoy” 2005 
Country Music Association
  • Global Artist of the Year 2005 
CMT (United States)
  • Top New Male Artist 1996 

GMA Canada Covenant Awards

  • Country/Bluegrass Song of the Year: “That’s What I Love About Jesus” 2005 
  • Seasonal Album Of The Year: A Gift 2007 
  • The Seasonal Song of the Year: “A Gift” 2007 
  • Album of the Year: Just As I Am 2013 
  • Artist of the Year 2013 
  • Country/Bluegrass Album of the Year: Just As I Am 2013 

Juno Awards And Paul Brandt

  • Country Male Vocalist of the Year 1997 
  • Male Vocalist of the Year 1998 
  • Country Male Vocalist of the Year 1998 
  • The Best Country Male Vocalist 1999 
  • Best Country Male Artist 2000 
  • The Best Country Male Artist 2001
  • Country Recording Of The Year: Risk 2008 
  • Allan Waters Humanitarian Award 2008 
Western Canadian Music Awards
  • Outstanding Country Recording: Risk 2008 
Other Awards
  • Alberta Music Awards Lifetime Achievement Award 2011 
  • Canadian Country Album of the Year “Give It Away” by iTunes Rewind 2011 
  • Awarded HRM The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal 2013 

Canadian Country Music Hall Of Fame

In 2017 Paul Brandt was inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame. The venue is located in Merritt BC Canada and celebrates the accolades of Canadian country music singers, songwriters, producers and builders. From the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame one can easily access the over 20+ murals in the community featuring country music artists.

Merritt BC Canada Murals and Walk of Stars

Throughout the downtown area one can find paintings of many of your favorite country music stars.  Located at 2025 Coutlee Avenue in Merritt BC is Paul Brandt’s mural which is on the side of the City Furniture building. Equally important to mention are the Walk of Stars located throughout the community. The Walk of Stars is a collection of hand prints (and one foot print) located throughout the community featuring various artists who have visited Merritt BC. 

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

** Information resources includes Paul Brandt website,  Wikipedia page, and Facebook and Twitter social media pages.

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Featured Country Music Musician : Carrie Underwood

“Singing is just a feeling set to music.” Carrie Underwood

Let me introduce you to Carrie Underwood – a featured country music artist and Merritt BC Mural. The Nicola Valley murals are located in the “Canadian Country Music Capital of Canada”, which we all know as Merritt BC Canada. Welcome!

This current walking tour mural initiative is a group effort between Experience Nicola Valley and Canadian Country Music Hall of FameCarrie Underwood, a featured Merritt BC Mural,  got her start in the country music industry after winning American Idol in 2005. As a result of her win, Carrie rocketed up the popularity charts and quickly became one of the biggest country music stars worldwide. 

Merritt BC Murals Carrie Underwood

Michelle Bacon (Experience Nicola Valley) / Mural Painted by Michelle Loughery

American Idol

After her win on the show American Idol Carry released her first album, “Some Hearts”. As a result the album soared up the charts and became a multi-platinum success. Subsequently, the country music album won numerous awards including a Grammy, as well as, awards from the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music. 

In 2008 Carrie was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry and has co-hosted the CMA Awards alongside Brad Paisley every year since then. 

In 1991 her single “Inside your Heaven” eclipsed the top of the pop billboard charts. Consequently, her second single “Jesus Take the Wheel” also reached top honors on the country billboard charts. Her songs won AMC and CMA awards for Single of the Year. She also won Best Female Country Vocal Performance and Best New Artist at the Grammy’s!

2007 Carrie won a couple more Grammy’s for her single “Before he Cheats”. That same year she released another country music album “Carnival Ride” which had several number one chart topping hits like “All American Girl” and “Last Name”.

“Carrie Underwood currently holds the American Idol record for highest selling album sales in the United States with over 13 million copies sold.”

 

Carrie Underwood Induction into Grand Ole Opry

To many in the country music industry it is a dream to become part of the Grand Ole Opry. Likewise, it was no different for Underwood.  Carrie was honored to be inducted into the Grand Ole Opry by Garth Brooks in 2008.  In short, this honour, recognized her as the youngest person to ever receive this prestigious honour. 

2009-2012

Underwood won another Grammy in 2009 for her song “Last Name”. Just before the CMA’s that year she released her next album “Play On.” The result earned her some chart topping singles including “Cowboy Casanova” “Temporary Home” and “Undo it.”

May of 2012 she released another mind blowing chart topper “Blown Away.” This sold more than 1.4 million copies over one year. The album “Blown Away” also produced other hits including “Good Girl” and “Two Black Cadillacs”

Merritt BC Murals Selfie Photo

2013-2017

Carrie Underwood’s interest goes beyond country music. In 2013 she took over from Faith Hill performing the weekly Sunday Night Football theme song “Waiting All Day for Sunday Night.” Underwood then went on to do other work in TV like the live retelling of “The Sound of Music.”

In 2014 Carrie went on to release her greatest hits album entitled “Decade #1.” Her new song on the album, “Something in the Water”, earned her another Grammy for Best Solo Country Artist.

“Storyteller” her next studio album was released in 2015. In this album there were some hits like “Smoke Break” as well as “Heart Beat”, “Church Bells” and “Dirty Laundry”. It was soon after, in 2016, that Carrie kicked off her Storyteller Tour.

A Bounce Back  For Carrie Underwood  

The Oklahoma Hall of Fame inducted Carrie in November of 2017 after her tour ended and the CMA’s were finished. Just two days after the CMA Awards, Carrie fell outside her home. At first it was reported that she had suffered a broken wrist and some cuts and abrasions. However, it was later discovered she received 40-50 stitches to her face.

Although it took some time to heal she was soon back in the spotlight. April 15, 2018 she was back on stage performing her new song “Cry Pretty” at the ACM Awards. It was such a powerful performance. As a result of her performance she received a standing ovation from the audience.

A Star Was Born – The Younger Years

Carrie Underwood was born on March 10, 1983 in Muskogee, Oklahoma. Carrie was raised on her family’s farm and, to this day, holds very fond memories of her time on the farm.

“Growing up in the county, I enjoyed things like playing on dirt roads, climbing trees, catching little woodland creatures and, of course singing.” Carrie Underwood

Underwood attended Northeastern State University after graduating from high school. Carrie majored in broadcast journalism and not singing as she decided to put it on hold. But that did not last long. It was during her senior year in 2004 that she decided to try out for American Idol.

Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame

Later Years – Family Life

On July 10, 2010 Carrie married professional hockey player Mike Fisher. She and Mike announced the would be welcoming their first child in 2015. Aug 2018 Carrie announced they were expecting their second child.

“Mike, Isaiah and I are absolutely over the moon and excited to be adding another fish to our pond.” Carrie Underwood

Merritt BC Murals

In 2007 Carrie Underwood came to Merritt BC Canada and played on the main stage of the Merritt Mountain Music Festival (now called the Rockin’ River Music Fest). During that year the Carrie Underwood  Merritt BC Mural was painted. It is located at 2101 Quilchena Ave in Merritt BC 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. 

Downtown Attractions

Merritt BC Canada is home of the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame. It’s a must to put on your list of places to check out. The Hall of Fame has many great attractions and items that have been donated by various country music stars and industry insiders.  

Downtown Merritt has a bevvy of small coffee shops and restaurants. Have a bite to eat at one of our great eating establishments. Looking for gifts and souvenirs? I would suggest taking a browse through any of the many local shops. Many of them feature some amazing products from our local artisans. 

I hope you enjoy the Carrie Underwood – Merritt BC Mural and have a look at others via walking and scanning the QR Codes to read about each star. These Murals are truly an amazing outdoor art exhibit.

For more on Carrie Underwood you can follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and her website here.

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** Information resources include Carrie Underwood website, Wikipedia and social media pages.

Merritt Murals in the Nicola Valley

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Merle Haggard Country Music Artist & Musician 

“I’m just writin’ about my little ol’ love affair,” Merle Haggard.

Merritt Mural Digital Walking Tour with the Legendary Merle Haggard. Merle was well known for his rough edge sound. It was a new sound which caught the attention of the executives in Nashville. Complimented by the unique sound of his steel guitar his vocal style of music more than words got plenty of attention from the country music industry. This was apparent when Merle Haggard rocked the stage at the Merritt Country Music Fest in Merritt BC Canada in 2003 (now the Rockin’ River Country Music Festival).

Merle Haggard

Tania Stewart (Experience Nicola Valley) / Mural Painted by Michelle Loughery

A Country Music Merritt Mural Icon

Lets be clear here… Merle Haggard remains, to this day, one of the best-known and most covered artists in country music history. Secondly, his influence on country music has earned him a spot on a Merritt Mural located in Merritt BC Canada, the Canadian Country Music Capital of Canada.

Most importantly it is a pleasure to meet you! And thank you for the QR download. Pretty cool right! As a result of your download we should really get back to Merle’s story. 

Merle Haggard Comes Out Flying

“Momma Tried”  written and recorded by American country music artist Merle Haggard and The Strangers. Released in July 1968 as the first single and title track from the album “Mama Tried”. The song became one of the cornerstone songs of his career in which Merle won the Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1999.

Interesting Facts about Merle Haggard

  • Firstly Merle Haggard holds the record for most #1 country singles after Conway Twitty.
  • Between 1963 and the mid 80’s,  hardly a year went by that Merle didn’t produce a single hit.
  • 38 No 1 hits, 250 original songs, nearly 70 albums.
  • Known to be called the “Poet Laureate” of the hard hats. Merle was made for cowboy hats!

Most Recognized Merle Haggard Country Music Songs 

In short Merle Haggard was widely known for these songs…  

  • “Okie from Muskogee”
  • “Mama Tried”
  • “Today I Started Loving You Again”
  • “I’m a Lonesome Fugitive”
  • “The Frighten Side of  Me”
  • “Someday We’ll Look Back” (1971)
  • “If We Make It Through December” (1974)
  • “A Working Man Can’t Get Nowhere Today” (1977)

Merritt BC Murals Selfie Photo

Interesting Facts About Merle Haggard

  • “The Hag” was his nickname.
  • Johnny Cash made his legendary 1959 performance at San Quentin Prison resulting in Merle having front row seats.
  • A duet with Clint Eastwood “Bar Room Buddies” released April 1980.
  • Ronald Reagan governor of California 1972 officially pardoned Merle.
  • Four out of 6 of children are gifted country singers who inherited their fathers natural talent. Ben Haggard being one of the most recognized.
  • Older brother Lowell gave Merle his first used guitar. Merle taught himself to play.
  • In the beginning Merle worked during the day and played  guitar at the local bars at night.
  • Merle Haggard [Platinum Disc] (2007).
  • Haggard’s signature song and his most controversial recording, “Okie from Muskogee”.
  • Elected into the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame in 1977.
  • In 1994,  an induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

To see all his awards you can go to “Academy of Country Music” and “Country Music Association

Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame

Merle Ronald Haggard –  April 6,1937 – April 6,2016

Merle’s Early Life Of Crime

Born during the great depression, the youngest son of three, Merle grew up in a converted railroad box as a home.  With the death of his father in 1945,  Merle developed into a rebellious child committing a number of minor offenses as a teen. Truancy and passing phony checks  subsequently landed him in a juvenile detention centre. Life started on the wrong foot. 

Then came married life. Suffering from financial issues, Merle attempted to rob a roadhouse bar resulting in a jail sentence in San Quentin prison in 1958 at the age of 20. There is a story that Merle, at one time,  was conspiring with a fellow inmate named “Rabbit” to stage a prison break. Fortunately Merle backed out. He soon found out later that Rabbit was sentenced to death after killing a police officer during his escape. Rabbit inspired Merle to make changes in his life. 

“We need to have music that contributes to the well-being of the spirit. Music that cradles people’s lives and makes things a little easier. That’s what I try to do, and what I want to do. You don’t want to close the door on hope,” Merle Haggard.

Later In Life – Times Are A Changing For Merle

After his release from San Quentin State Prison in 1960, Merle returned to Bakersfield, where he sang and played guitar in the honky-tonks of “Beer Can Hill,”  the city’s country music scene.  In 1962, he signed with a small label called Tally Records, for whom he recorded five songs, including his debut single “Sing a Sad Song,” which rose to No. 19 on the country charts.

Motivation Behind Country Music Lyrics

Resulting from his life experiences Merle told his story with song and music. Often described as an intense dedicated artist who wrote and performed traditional country songs. 

“I’ve never been a guy that can do what people told me…. It’s always been my nature to fight the system.” Merle Haggard.

Merritt BC Canada Murals

The Merritt Mural Project started 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”. Muralist Michelle Loughery painted this Merritt Mural.

In Conclusion

After being diagnosed with lung cancer in 1998, Merle underwent surgery to remove the tumor. Reflecting on the situation, he referred to it as “the greatest test of my fortitude.” However,  following a speedy recovery, Haggard returned to touring and writing songs.

Sadly on April 6,2016 Haggard passed away at his Northern California Ranch. It is reported by family and friends Merle had stated that he would  die on his 79th birthday. 

Get more Merle on his website.

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Merritt BC Murals – Carolyn Dawn Johnson

Featured Country Music Musician : Carolyn Dawn Johnson

“I’m going for the big picture” Carolyn Dawn Johnson

The Merritt BC Murals attraction includes Canadian country music singer Carolyn Dawn Johnson. She is one of  25 + Canadian Country Music Murals located throughout the community of Merritt, BC, Canada in the Nicola Valley. But here, at this mural in front of you,  I am going to tell you a little about Carolyn Dawn Johnson. 

Carolyn Dawn Johnson – Merritt BC Murals

Carolyn Dawn Johnson played at the Merritt Mountain Music Festival (now called the Rockin’ River Country Music Fest) in 2002 and again in 2006. Johnson was born and raised in Alberta, Canada. At the age of 5 she was singing in church and started taking piano lessons from the pastors wife.

At one point in her life she steered away from country music. But luckily for country music fans, Carolyn finally found her way back to the stage and calls that period of her life, that hiatus from country music, “a stain in her heart”.

country music mural Carolyn Dawn Johnson Merritt BC

Michelle Bacon (Experience Nicola Valley) / Mural Painted by Michelle Loughery

The Songs Of A Canadian Country Singer

Many a country music fan of Carolyn Dawn Johnson know her best for her songs like “Complicated”, “Georgia”, and “I don’t want you to go”.  

Carolyn also has two children, Abigail and Bennett. In one of Carolyn’s videos you can watch as she and her daughter Abigail sing a duet (story book style) that she wrote with Stella ladies. 

Life Of Carolyn Dawn Johnson

Carolyn Dawn Johnson was born on April 30, 1971 in Grand Prairie Alberta. She had many influences growing up. Her parents would play country music records while later in life she listened to many other artists and genres. Some included ABBA, Fleetwood Mac, Charley Pride and Marty Stewart.

At 5 years old she started taking piano lessons from the pastors wife at her church. Then in high school she learned to play the flute, saxophone and clarinet. Because her teacher Evangeline Theissen kept sending her books about piano, she continues to play the keys with passion.  

High School And Beyond

Although she took music in high school, her teachers were not very encouraging. She then turned to science. After graduation she attended Trinity Western University in Langley, BC studying biology. The following year she returned to Alberta, Canada and specialized in education.

Night Clubs

While attending collage she frequently went to the local clubs and sat in with some of the featured bands.  It was while playing with the local bands that her confidence grew on stage and in her talents. The bands, watching her perform on stage night in and night out, encouraged her to get back into music. It was then that she realized that her true calling was country music.

Merritt BC Murals Selfie Photo

Country Music Education 

Carolyn, realizing that country music was her future, decided to pursue an education in the production of music. She enrolled in Vancouver’s Columbia Academy and learned the technical aspects of the music industry. While learning song writing from a video she purchased she wrote songs in her spare time. It was also at this time Johnson joined the Nashville Songwriters Association International.

Nashville Is Calling Carolyn Dawn Johnson 

“I’m going for the big picture”  Carolyn Dawn Johnson

This quote was said to her mother during a phone call in 1994. It was then she moved to Nashville. On her arrival  in Nashville, Tennessee Carolyn began to seek out and attend song writing workshops. In 1998 everything changed. It was then she signed with Patrick Joseph Music as a songwriter. Her demos captured the attention of some amazing artists like Jo Dee Messina, Patty Loveless, Mindy McCready, Chely Write among others.

Big Break Writing

Carolyn Dawn Johnson’s big break came in 1999 with “Single White Female”. Johnson co-wrote the song “Single White Female” with Shaye Smith and, ultimately, Chely Write ended up recording the song. This song became her first #1 hit as a song writer. The momentum continued when Jo Dee Messina recorded  another of Carolyn’s songs called “Downtime” which became a top #5 hit.

Music Row Magazine named Carolyn Dawn Johnson “Breakthrough Song Writer of the Year” in 2000.

Country Music Starts On The Road

In 1999 Carolyn started her country music solo career. Martina McBride asked Carolyn to go on tour with her as a back up singer and guitarist. While on tour with Martina, Carolyn worked on her own songs for her debut album.

 Carolyn Dawn Johnson

Photo Credit :Carolyn Dawn Johnson Facebook

2001

In 2001 the doors continued to open for Carolyn Dawn Johnson. She opened for stars like Sara Evens, Martina McBride, Reba McEntire and Jamie O’Neil while on the Girls Night Out Tour.

Later in 2001 Johnson released her debut album “Room with a View” in Canada. An American release followed soon after. Selling almost 18,000 copies in the first week it became Nashville’s highest debuting album by an new artist. “Room with a View” became Certified Gold in Canada a few months later.

By the end of 2001 Carolyn Dawn Johnson had received 10 nominations from the Canadian Country Music Association. She went on to win 5 of those awards including Female Artist Of The Year.

2002

2002 Carolyn went on tour with Alan Jackson and Kenny Chesney. She won a Juno award for “Best Country Artist”. Another award won by Johnson that year was “Top New Female Artist’ by the Academy of Country Music.

2003-2005

Carolyn went on a co-heading tour in 2003 with Keith Urban. While on tour she wrote songs for her next album “Dress Rehearsal”,  released in 2004. Later that year she received seven CCMA (Canadian Country Music Association) award nominations and won 5.

In 2005, Carolyn Dawn Johnson left Artisa Nashville stating “what they wanted me to do is not who I am.”

Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame

2006 – 2009

By 2006 she released her third album “Love and Negotiation” under Angeline Entertainment, a Canadian record label. At the CCMA awards in 2007 Carolyn was named “Female Vocalist of the Year”. Love & Negotiation was eventually released in the US by Dancing Lily Music, on October 13, 2009.

2010 – 2013

Johnson released a single “Let me Introduce Myself” from her next upcoming album “Love Rules”. The Album Love Rules was released on July 21, 2010 in the US and on Aug 10, 2010 it was released in Canada. Carolyn received “Female Artist of the Year” and “Album of the Year” for her Love Rules album. She also received “Female Artist of the Year” in both 2012 and 2013.

Recent years

Carolyn has been involved with another band JD & The Straight Shot. She started touring with them in 2018 and in 2019 became an official member of the band. They have just released an new album “The Great Divide” You can check out a live stream of the new album here.

Merritt’s Canadian Country Music Hall Of Fame

Merritt BC is the Country Music Capital of Canada. Downtown Merritt BC Canada is home of the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame, the “Merritt Murals”, and the “Walk of Stars” have transformed Downtown Merritt BC into the largest country music art gallery you will ever have the pleasure of  experiencing in Canada. 

Take a selfie with your favorite country music artists and send them to us at @experiencenicolavalley on social media. Another Merritt BC Canada Attraction is the Walk of Stars.  There are 100+ hand prints and even one foot print that have been cast in bronze for prosperity located throughout the community of Merritt BC Canada. Do you know who the foot print belongs to? 

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.  You can find the Carolyn Dawn Johnson – Merritt BC Mural at 1701 Voght Street which is the Home Hardware building.

For more info and stories about the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame – Merritt BC Murals please go to Experience Nicola Valley.

Say hi on social media and let Carolyn Dawn Johnson know you saw her on Experience Nicola Valley. Better yet send her a selfie of you with her mural here in Merritt BC. Carolyn Dawn Johnson can be found on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Merritt BC Murals – Carolyn Dawn Johnson

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Tanya Tucker – Merritt BC Murals

Find Tanya Tucker in Spirit Square in the Center of Our Town!

 “I know I’ve found…A place in space where I belong” Tanya Tucker

 

Merritt BC Canada Murals – Tanya Tucker made it center stage not only in major music venues around the world for decades, but right here in outdoor small town BC. Tanya Tucker’s visage is on display right in the middle of our town in Spirit Square, a place often filled with live music. Tanya’s flowing hair and engaging smile attracts a lot of attention, from locals and visitors alike. 

Merritt BC is the Country Music Capital of Canada, and besides the incredible live music we get here, our town is alive with large and colorful murals of both Canadian and American musicians and performers. As a result people come from far and wide to our see our murals and visit our music festival community.

Merritt BC Canada Murals - Tanya Tucker

Jano Howard (Experience Nicola Valley) / Mural Painted by Michelle Loughery

“I’m the Singer, You’re the Song…”

That song was on the playlist of my early adult years, I listened to it at the beach, driving down country roads, and at dances. I probably still have that vinyl album. In short, I loved her moody country/rock voice!

Consequently, Tanya has released almost 30 albums since 1972. It was during that year she released her first album “Delta Dawn”.

And promises of more to come…

Tanya is considered a country singer, first and foremost, but crossed into the pop/rock genre and gathered more fans along the way. Her music was influenced by some major talents, including Patsy Cline, Elvis Presley, Loretta Lynn, the Eagles, and Glen Campbell. She was nominated several times for awards from the Country Music Association.

Her lifelong success has been marked with many Top 10 hits and Top 40 hits. In 2002, Tanya Tucker was ranked #20 on CMT’s 40 Greatest Women of Country Music.

Merritt BC Murals - Tanya Tucker Selfie

Edgy, Classic, Country

These three words head up Tanya Tucker’s website. And they suit Tanya for sure.

Tanya Denise Tucker, was born in Seminole, Texas.  At the age of six she began taking saxophone lessons, then started singing. She knew from the time she was a child, that she wanted to be a country singer when she grew up. Tanya and her family lived in Arizona, then Utah, and then the family moved to Las Vegas, where Tanya performed regularly.

In 1972, Tanya had her first hit, “Delta Dawn” at the age of 13! Two more hits followed quickly, “Love’s the Answer” and “What’s Your Mam’s Name”. And soon Tanya was established as a major star.

Merritt BC Canada Murals - Tanya Tucker

Tanya Tucker – Spirit Square – Downtown Merritt / Mural Painted by Michelle Loughery

MCA Records

In 1975, MCA Records snapped her up and a string of country hits followed.

Her music and image changed in the late 70’s, widening into the pop/rock genre. The move was surprising to her fans, but was a successful career move over all. However things did slow down for Tanya and her life took several turns until the late 80’s when she returned to country, but pop-styled, and this brought Tanya back to popularity.

“…I just reconnected with my fans, and gathered a few more — now I want to gather a bunch more! I’m not satisfied.”

Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame

In 1989, Tanya Tucker released a “Greatest Hits” album, and she has continued to release albums and perform.

Her last album with new material was “Tanya” released in 2002. She more recently, in 2009, made a classic covers album, “My Turn”.”You’re gonna hear from me.”

From news I read recently, after several years without an album release, Tanya has one in the works along with a documentary. It’s a long time coming according to her fans.

According to my sources, like Country Daily, Tucker is very engaged when talking her upcoming projects. She says, “If I could do every album I wanted to do, it’d take me 50 years…I want to do a duet album, a classic album with classic songs, of course a Christmas album…And maybe a spiritual album.”

“Hell,” she adds, “I’m busier than a one-legged man in an (butt)-kicking contest, I’m telling you! I need about three or four more hands and about six more pair of feet. But I’m doing what I can do.”

And here’s a project Tanya seems very happy with…

“I used to be a wild thing…”

Country legend Tanya Tucker is launching her own tequila brand, Cosa Salvaje. The singer partnered with Elle France, the founder of Cosa Salvaje, which translates to “wild thing” in Spanish.

“I used to be a wild thing, now I just drink a wild thing!” Tanya Tucker said in a press release. “I truly love the taste of Cosa Salvaje and certainly wouldn’t be partnering with it if it didn’t pass my taste test… the agave and distilling process is environmentally conscious, so we’re taking care of our planet too.”

Each bottle of Cosa Salvaje tequila is made from recycled glass.

From Cision, and other sources…

Will Tanya come to Merritt?

She has been here already! More than once.

Tanya Tucker performed at our infamous “Merritt Mountain Music Festival” in the late 90’s.  And she was in town in 2006 to unveil her stunning mural!

I would love her to visit again… Hey Tanya!

I checked her upcoming events list and although six out of thirteen are here in Canada, none are close enough to head to for an evening’s drive…

So, we’ll download some Tanya Tucker oldies, and listen while we cruise our town, checking out the mural tour with other country superstars- like Carol Dawn Johnson, Paul Brandt, Dolly Parton, and Elvis!

And when we stop for near the Spirit Square, we’ ll check out the Walk of Stars too. But that’s another story.

Merritt BC Canada Murals – Tanya Tucker

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.

  • To visit Tanya’s site, where you can listen to some of her music, click here.
  • For a list of songs by Tanya Tucker go to Songs Tube.
  • The Tanya Tucker Facebook 
  • Tanya Tucker on Twitter (27.600 Followers)
  • Other sources about Tanya: The Most Coveted, Wikipedia, All Music, and our own locals: Susan Roline and Melvina White.
  • For more info on our Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame, read Melvina White’s blog. Melvina has been bringing live music to town for decades.
  • For more blogs on the many murals/artists scattered around our community, stay tuned to our Experience Nicola Valley site!

Come and visit!

Take in the Rockin River MusicFest, our country music festival, around the beginning of August every year.

Tickets sold out? Pop in to our weekly Open Mic at the Kekuli Cafe. Have a bannock while you are there….

Keep an eye on my Facebook page, Creative Community, to see what creativity is up in town.

And definitely tour the town of Merritt, to visit all our Country and Western murals featuring stars like Tanya Tucker!

As the Arts and Culture Blogger for Experience Nicola Valley. I am thrilled to talk about our live music history, our community public art-like the murals, and the participation of our locals and visitors to bring the Arts alive in the Nicola Valley!

Yours in creativity, Jano

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Country Music Band – Lonestar

“I’m already there,” Lonestar Country Music Lyrics

The Merritt BC Murals is proud to feature the country music band Lonestar. It is a result of the band having one of the country music murals in Merritt BC Canada. First, before we move on, I would like to thank you for the QR download.  Secondly, I am excited to share their story. 

Tania Stewart (Experience Nicola Valley) / Mural Painted by Michelle Loughery

Whats In A Name – Lonestar

Lonestar hails from Texas, USA. Hence why the country music band first decided to name their band “Texassee”, after their home state. But, soon later, they quickly changed the name to Lonestar. 

The Early Years Of Lonestar

Early on in the band’s career, their sound was a mixture of honky-tonk and neo-traditional country influences. Consequently, Lonestar has compared their own debut album to the sounds of Merle Haggard and George Jones. However, soon later, their country music shifted towards a country pop sound with strong melodies and rich vocals. 

Music Awards Before The Merritt Murals

As a result of their sound, they released their self-titled debut album in 1995. After that their first single from the album, “Tequila Talkin'” reached No. 8 on the Billboard Charts. Above all, their proudest moment,  the album produced the group’s first No. 1 song, “No News”. 

Likewise 1999 Keeps Bringing Success

In 1999 they won the ACM Single of The Year for “Amazed”.  That was quickly followed up in 2001 with the CMA “Vocal Group of the Year”. Then came the 2017 Peoples Choice Award for “Favourite Country Group”. After that, and most impressively, they amassed sales in excess of ten million albums. 

Most Recognized Country Music Songs

For instance Lonestars most recognized songs include Amazed, Tequila Talkin’ , No News, I’m Already There, My Front Porch Looking In, What About Now, Walking In Memphis, Mr. Mom, Lets Be Us Again, as well as Every Little Thing She Does.

Merritt BC Murals Selfie Photo Too

In Short  – The Band Rocks It

The original 5 band members first began touring and playing together in Nashville in 1993. And by 1994 they were signed by BNA Records. Certainly a big moment for them.  The band included members Richie McDonald, John Rich, Dean Sams, Michael Britt, as well as, Keech Rainwater.

Richie Vance McDonald

Feb 6, 1962 · Lubbock, TX, USA.  Country music singer/songwriter, as well as, the lead singer from 1998 until his departure in 2007. Also co-wrote several of the band’s singles, and sang lead on all but one of them. Richie rejoined the band in 2011.  

John Rich

Jan 7, 1974, Amarillo, TX.  From 1992 to 1998 John was a member of the band. He played bass guitar and on some songs he was the lead vocalist. After departing from the band, Rich embarked on a solo career with BNA Records.  

Dean Sams

Aug 3,1966. Garland, TX, USA .  Keyboards & backing vocals. Also an actor and composer, known for “Maybe Someday”,” Cedar Cove” and “Static”.

Michael Wayne Britt

June 15, 1966. Fort Worth, Texas, USA. Lead guitar & backing vocals. Michael, the actor, also shared his talents on the television hit daytime series,” Days of Our Lives”,  as well as,  a stint as a comedian (2002).  

Keech Rainwater

January 24, 1963. Plano, Texas, USA. Randy Keech Rainwater plays the drums. Also, did a stint as an actor on “Days of Our Lives” and performed, ” The Song that Changed My Life”(2012).

Cody Collins

Further more Cody Collins joined the group in September 2007.  

As A Matter Of Fact

  • First, both McDonald and Britt  appeared on ” Wheel of Fortune”  recorded at the Grand Ole Opry house in Nashville, incidentally  both winning the bonus round.
  • In addition they respectively donated $61,000 to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and $59,350 for Adopt-a-Platoon.

Lonestar Is More Than Country Music

  • Third, the group also appeared on The Price Is Right, June 17, 2010. They performed the show’s theme song, along with a sample of songs from” Party Heard Around the World”.
  • After that Richie, Britt and Rainwater were guest stars on “Honkey Tonk Central” 2014. 

Merritt Country Music Fest 

Because Lonestar performed at the Merritt Country Music Fest in 2005 (now called the Rockin’ River Music Fest) we know them well. Not to mention that the band’s amazing harmony, beautiful lyrics, and upbeat sound attracted country music fans from around the world to our community of Merritt.

Lonestar sums it up best ” True country music isn’t about music that the fans like, it’s about playing what’s in your heart and soul.” 

Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame

Country Music Capital of Canada

As of  January of 2009, the CCMA signed an agreement with the Merritt Walk of Stars to establish a physical venue in Merritt BC celebrating Canadian country music. What we see today, as a result of this agreement, is a beautiful venue with a culmination of plaques, artifacts and exhibits from inductees of the past, present and future.

Downtown Merritt Murals

Downtown Merritt provides visitors a unique experience when exploring our community. Certainly, there are the murals. 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. 

Then follow up your sightseeing experience by browsing some of our local shops, cafes, historical pubs, as well as, Merritt’s Signature Attraction, the Country Music Hall of Fame

In Short Come and Visit Merritt BC

Further more we encourage you to check out some of other murals in town too. Go ahead and download your favorite country music stars using the QR codes. Not to mention this also includes the Walk of Stars. Why? Because they too have QR codes. 

Moreover There Is More … 

Moreover feel free to learn more about Lonestar online at any of the other great pages including their website,  and Facebook page

Merritt BC Canada Mural Digital Walking Tour

 

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Featured Country Music Musician : Reba McEntire

“It’s very important to surround yourself with people you can learn from.” Reba McEntire

Merritt Murals – Reba McEntire is one of the more than 25 murals in the community of Merritt, BC, Canada in the Nicola Valley. Furthermore, Merritt is the “Country Music Capital of Canada” and enjoys one of the largest outdoor country music art walks in Canada. The community mural walking tour is complimented by Merritt’s Signature Attraction, the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame.

Reba McEntire is an American singer songwriter, actress and record producer. Her career began in high school with band, at rodeo’s and on local radio shows with her siblings.

Reba McEntire Mural in Merritt BC Canada

Michelle Bacon (Experience Nicola Valley) / Mural Painted by Michelle Loughery

Pre Merritt Mural – Reba McEntire

It started out slow for this country music icon. For example Reba’s first single ” I Don’t Want to Be a One Night Stand” was released on January 22 1976. After that came her second single “There’s Nothing Like Love Between a Women and a Man.” and her third single “Glad I Waited Just for You”. To sum it up, none of the songs broke the Top 80 on the billboard charts. After that Reba’s self titled album released in March 1977 didn’t even make the billboard charts. 

“Out of a Dream” Reba’s second album did much, much better. It was released in 1979. The album cover of Patsy Cline’s “Sweet Dreams” became Reba’s first top twenty hit. 

Reba McEntire’s Year Of Country Music Awards

Her first certified Gold Album was “Just a Little Love.” As a result this album earned Reba her first Country Music Association Award for Female Vocalist of the Year.

“You’ve got to stay current and up with the competition. The main thing, though, is finding the greatest songs you can possibly find.” Reba McEntire

Reba’s 9th studio album got rave reviews. For instance her title track “Whoever is New England” became number one on the Billboard Country Music Chart. Consequently it earned Reba a Grammy for Best Female Country Vocal Performance the following year.

Reba has had hit after hit over the years. Most selling in the millions. She received a CMA Award for Best Female Vocalist four years in a row from 1984 to 1987. She followed this up with the 1990 “Rumor Has It” release and by 1999 it was certified Triple Platinum. 

“Be different, stand out, and work your butt off.” Reba McEntire

Merritt BC Murals Selfie Photo

Reba McEntire is referred to as “The Queen of Country”. She has released 29 studio albums, 42 number one singles, as well as, 16 number one albums. In short, a sure sign of her success, is when the Recording Industry Association of America certified 28 of her 29 albums as either Gold, Platinum or Multi Platinum status. 

Tragedy Strikes Reba And Her Band

Reba, her family and her band had a tragic blow on March 16, 1991. A plane carrying half of their band crashed into the side of a mountain just after take off.  McEntire was devastated but continued on. Her music helped her deal with the grief with the release of “For My Broken Heart”. Reba dedicated this album to the deceased band members.

“For me, singing sad songs often has a way of healing a situation. It gets the hurt out in the open into the light, out of the darkness.” Reba McEntire

Reba’s Life In Television

In 2001 Reba stared in a half hour television sitcom “Reba”. She played a divorced mother of a teenager. In the show Reba is learning how to handle the divorce, her ex-husbands new and pregnant wife as well as her teenager whom also becomes pregnant. If you have ever watched it you will agree Reba is quite the comedian.  “Reba” ran for six seasons finally being cancelled in February 2007.  The season finale had 8.7 million viewers.

Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame

Merritt Murals – Reba McEntire

In 2007 Country Music Artist, Reba McEntire made the trip to Merritt BC Canada. Reba performed on the main stage at the Merritt Mountain Music Festival (now the Rockin’ River Music Fest).

Merritt Murals – Reba McEntire was painted by Master Muralist Michelle Loughery in 2006. These beautiful works of art can be seen all over downtown Merritt BC. While you’re out and about visit the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame also located in Downtown Merritt.

Each mural has a QR code which links you to this and other blog stories from Experience Nicola Valley. Each mural provides more information on different country music singers featured throughout Downtown Merritt BC Canada.

The Reba McEntire Merritt BC Canada Mural can be found at 2101 Quilchena Avenue on the side of Copper Valley Mechanical building. The Merritt Murals in the Nicola Valley have become such a wonderful part of our community. We are always on the lookout for new ones and excited to find out who will be next.

Another great attraction to see while your walking the Merritt BC Murals is the Walk of Stars. The stars include over 100 hand prints and even one foot print of country music artists and industry insiders. Downtown Merritt has many great shops to find that amazing and special gift too. Our main local artisans are featured throughout the downtown stores.

Early Years Of Reba

Reba McEntire was born in McAlester, Oklahoma on March 28, 1955. Reba and her siblings grew up on their parents 8000 acre ranch. Her mother Jacqueline spent many years helping teach the to sing and harmonize. Her father was engaged in a rodeo career. 

While in grade 9 Reba and two of her siblings created their first group and performed at Rodeos. Although the group didn’t last. Reba continued her solo career through her college years.

Connect with Reba McEntire

You can find Reba McEntire on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and her website.

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Canadian Country Music

Country Music Hall of Fame is a Merritt Tradition

“Canadian Country music continues to grow in Canada and a number of US artists have recorded and made hits of songs written by Canadian Song writers.”

The Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum collects,  preserves and displays the history and tradition of Country music.  The Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame honours Canadian country music artists, builders or broadcasters, living or deceased. The Country Music Hall of Fame is a national attraction and a must see Nicola Valley Experience in Merritt, BC Canada’s downtown.
 
Merritt and the Nicola Valley country atmosphere, outdoor adventures, traditional ranches, heritage and the unique
desolate landscape has been the inspiration for the biggest Country Music Festivals in Canada.  In addition it has earned Merritt the title, Country Music Capital of Canada. It has also set the stage for the Country Music Hall of Fame to showcase our national artist inductees, song writers and  their contributions  to country music.

Canadian Country Music Roots

Canadian Country Music

Photo Source CCMA: Hank Snow

The Maritimes, parts of Ontario and BC shared a strong folk tradition similar to that of the Appalachian region of the US. Because of this country music has found ready acceptance in Canada. It was first popularized by fiddlers such as Don Messer and George Wade. They started their careers on radio in the late 1920s. The Canadian Victor Record Co signed Wilf Carter in 1932, and his success prompted Victor to sign Wade (1933). Hank Snow (1936) and Hank LaRivière (1941) were signed as well. Carter, Snow, and later Earl Heywood introduced a unique style of country music to the scene using a lower, less nasal-sounding voice with clearer enunciation and fewer of the blues like slurs and high whining sounds that dominate much American country music.

Canadian Singers

However, Canadian singers depend more on the traditional ballad and story songs than on the “cheatin'” and barroom songs often preferred in the US. The Great Depression, WWII,  a more mobile population, the success of the “singing cowboy” movies, the number of US radio stations with access to Canada, the increasing number of pop adaptations in country music, national radio shows and tours all increased the popularity of country  music throughout the 1930s, 1940s and into the 1950s.

Movement to the United States

Canadian artists have struggled with low population of the country. Until the mid-1950s country artists relied on live radio shows,  regional touring in clubs, barn dances and local television appearances to earn a living. With a shortage of places to perform and the lack of good recording studios, numerous artists, including Ray Griff, Stu Phillips, Lucille Starr and Ronnie Prophet, followed the lead of Hank Snow and moved to the US.  In the 1960s country records became more pop-oriented. Artists such as Anne Murray, R. Harlan Smith and Shirley Eikhardt received airplay on commercial radio.

Country Music and Rock

Rock-oriented music, of the Good Brothers, Prairie Oyster and Colleen Peterson, gained a wider audience. The urban folk boom of the 1960s consisted of artists such as Ian and Sylvia Tyson, Gordon Lightfoot, Murray McLauchlan and Bob Ruzicka. These musicians have both a strong urban and country appeal. The folk-music boom  introduced bluegrass, the jazz of country music, and traditional Canadian fiddle music to a much larger audience. In the 1990s there continued to be a strong crossover feeling to Canadian country music. The addition of new music artists Rita MacNeil, Quartette, Colleen Peterson, Ashley MacIsaac, The Rankins and The Barra MacNeils appeal to Canadian music audiences in general.

Growth of Western and Canadian Country Music

Canadian-content regulations for commercial radio in 1970 gave valuable airplay to artists such as Dick Damron,
“Stompin’ Tom” Connors, Carroll Baker, Gary Buck and the Family Brown. More radio stations were licensed and
more began to program for specialized markets. In 1960 there was one radio station, CFCW in Alberta, featuring
country music entirely. By 1987 there were 85 originating stations programming some country music during their
broadcast day, and by 1998 there were 110 full-time country stations and 36 part-time stations broadcasting country music in Canada. Because of this the 1980s saw a revival of interest in the older styles of country music of Ian Tyson, k.d. lang and groups such as Blue Rodeo and Spirit of the West. The more mainstream music of Eddie Eastman, Terry Sumsion and Terry Carisee, etc, remained popular.

Nashville Calling

Up until the 1990s primary television exposure for country artists came through such network shows as the Tommy
Hunter Show and syndicated broadcasts such as Sun Country and the Family Brown Show. More importantly, with the advent of country music specialty television channels, such as the Nashville Network and Canada’s Country Music Television (established in 1994 as New Country Network), new exposure possibilities for country music artists became possible. A new genre of country music, often referred to as new country, arose to take advantage of these opportunities. Borrowing promotional and production techniques along with a dose of attitude from rock music, this new music challenged accepted ideas of country music. This resulted in giving country musicians a much wider and more urban audience.

Making It Big

Country Music in Merritt

Photo Source CCMA: Michelle Wright-Patricia Conroy

Canadian artists who emerged in the 1990s include Michelle Wright, k.d. lang, George Fox, Charlie Major, Blue Shadows, Prescott/Brown, Paul Brandt, Cassandra Vassik, Patricia Conroy, Lori Yates, Terry Clark, the Wilkinsons and multi-award winner Shania Twain. There is still the notion that to make it big you must move to Nashville. However, television now offers Canadian artists a chance for much wider exposure. A 3-hour 1992 CBC-TV special brought new country and old country together in a program devoted to the history of Canadian country music called Country Gold. This program featured interviews and performances by Canadian artists from Hank Snow to k.d. Lang.

Birth of Canadian Country Music Association

The Canadian Country Music Association, formed in 1975 as the Academy of Country Music Entertainment, has sponsored an annual country music week in different cities across Canada. Country Music Week, as well as, Big Country Awards have brought artists and industry people together and have become major events in the promotion and development of country music. Therefore, the annual broadcast of the Country Music Awards has for many years been the top-rated Canadian music show on television. The Country Music Association is also responsible for the Canadian Country Music Hall of Honour, with a permanent home in Edmonton. The Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame however, is situated in Merritt, British Columbia.

Then and Now

Country Music hall of Fame

Photo Source: CCMH of Fame

The Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame has released a Then and Now Album Volume 1.  On September 7th, 2018 the first-ever Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame album was released. During the Canadian Country Music Awards in Hamilton, Ontario the ‘Then and Now – Volume 1’ compilation album was released. The album features Hall of Fame inductees Ian Tyson, Murray McLauchlan and Michelle Wright. They performed their biggest hits, in duets with some of today’s top names in Canadian country music. Some of the top artists performing are Brett Kissel, Aaron Pritchett and Jess Moskaluke. They were proud to participate.

Country Music Hall of Fame

There is an artifact collection of plaques, vintage turn table with 100’s of records (collection growing), national artist memorabilia, builders or broadcasters, living or deceased. Secondly, the country Music Hall of Fame includes extensive biographical information on the inductees. It is located in downtown Merritt, British Columbia at 2025 Quilchena Avenue. The facility is open year-round for custom tours, and is open to the public on seasonally adjusted hours. The initiative is governed by a not-for-profit society (the Canadian Country Music Heritage Society).

For more information contact:

Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame
2025 Quilchena Avenue
Merritt, BC Canada
Phone: 1-250-315-5508
Email: info@ccmhalloffame.com

Canadian Country Music in Merritt BC Canada

Coffee House Music in Merritt, Canada

Another Great Thing for Seniors to Do in the Nicola Valley

Coffee House Music – On to the Future

Remember the old underground Coffee House of the 60’s and 70’s? Come with me and enjoy all the nostalgic fun of that era minus the toke smoke and obscure poetry.

No sneaking around in dank, dark cellars either. This Coffee House is in the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame at 2025 Quilchena Avenue, smack in the heart of downtown Merritt! It’s a spacious well- lit venue with great acoustics and good lighting. Add live, mostly country, music, a mix of songs from earlier times, some blues, a bit of sing-along fun and of course, coffee. Welcome to the future of the 1960’s coffee house, Merritt style.

Coffee House

Coffee House Jam in Merritt, Canada

On June 23rd, we went to check it out. Not only did we have a fantastic time, we also met several old friends and made a few new ones. Imagine my surprise when I looked around the room to discover not only the expected seniors, but also a family with five (very well-behaved) little boys and a good mix of younger people. It seems that everyone loves coffee house music!

Coffee House Entertainment

Al Horne and his wife Denise hosted, and they entertained us royally! Everyone enjoyed their music. We seniors because we remembered most of the “oldies” they sang and could sing along. The kids caught on to the chorus quickly.

They especially loved the hand clapping and foot stomping bits.

I so love to watch Denise and Al perform. A sweetness shows between them as they peek at each other for cues or just flash a quick, encouraging grin back and forth. Their give and take banter always gets a laugh too. They offer us these naturally, warm, “feel good” moments without even realizing they are doing it! It’s obvious to everyone that they’re having as good a time as we are. Makes the coffee house atmosphere so friendly and personal.

Coffee House Feature Act – Bobby Garcia

Every coffee house needs a feature act and Bobby Garcia certainly delivers! In person he

Coffee House

Bobby Garcia

seems quiet, polite and a little shy, but on stage he sure can sing up a storm! Backed by Herb MacLellan, we were surprised and delighted to hear this young man sing the oldies that we grew up with, as well as some modern country. This talented entertainer not only writes a lot of his own songs, but sings them as well! He was nice enough to let me take his picture during the break. And as you can see, he’s a cutie!

Bobby has been a popular singer/songwriter in Merritt for some time. But did you know that he recently recorded an album in Nashville, which is  available online and here in Merritt? Nashville’s interest can only be a good sign! Best of luck to Merritt’s own Bobby Garcia!

Coffee House Entertainment – Robert Bertrand

Coffee House

Robert Bertrand

What fun we had with Robert Bertrand on stage. That truly was a trip down memory lane! I have to admit I’m pretty good at recognizing country songs as far back as the 1930’s. My dad used to sing them to me when I was a baby and they really stuck! Robert stumped me but good though when he took the old cowboy songs and blues back past that era. We all enjoyed the music but some of the older audience really got it! I wonder, did their daddies sing to them too?

If you like Kenny Rogers and Willie Nelson, you would certainly enjoy Robert. He sings like a bit of both of them, with a little gravel of experience in his voice. All those “Don’t love me honey or “I might do you wrong” lyrics are delivered with a twinkle in his eye and a wicked, knowing grin. He sure can get the crowd smiling and toe tapping! No wonder he is asked to play so often.

During the break he, too, was nice enough to let me take his picture. Doesn’t he look as if he would fit right into his songs?

Coffee House in the Hall of Fame

Al and Denise, and the Coffee House crew, host a monthly coffee house at the Hall of Fame here in Merritt. Featuring both new guests and repeat favorites, it isn’t just an entertaining evening, but a social event too. In this coffee house, visitors are welcomed, friendships renewed and new friendships formed.

If good friends and entertainment aren’t enough, there is always the Hall of Fame itself. The exhibits tie in nicely with the music and atmosphere and are worth exploring in themselves. Quite a few of the the exhibited stars are seniors. I was glad we arrived early so I could check out some of the costumes that I missed last time. Some of those women were so tiny! Hmm, maybe I should take up guitar and singing.

Coffee House Wind-up

What did this senior learn from doing an evening of coffee house music, Merritt style? This is one experience I will definitely repeat.

Do you enjoy coffee houses?

From your senior on the go,

Diane