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Merritt BC Canada Murals

Michelle Wright Country Music Artist

Merritt BC Murals and Downtown Walking Tour

“My earliest memories of music are singing in the car. Or spending the weekend with my father watching him put on a rhinestone-studded suit to perform in.”

The Merritt BC Murals feature country music artist and songbird Michelle Wright. Michelle was born on July 1, 1961 in Chatham, Ontario but grew up in a nearby small town named Merlin. Her childhood was heavily influenced by the music scene as both her parents were local musicians. 

“We were never a family band, but I got a lot of inspiration and encouragement from my mother. That’s where my love of country music really began.” 

Melvina White (Experience Nicola Valley) / Mural Painted by Michelle Loughery

Michelle’s Education In Country Music   

In 1980 this love of music grew while in college when Michelle joined a local band where she performed with them until 1983. Then in 1983 Wright started her own band.

But… in 1985,  a solo record deal with Savannah Records came calling. She released her debut single in 1986, “I Want to Count on You”, which peaked at No. 48 on the Canadian RPM Country Tracks Chart. At this time she still was performing with her own band until 1988. 

Time To Go Solo For Michelle Wright

Michelle Wright’s debut album, “Do Right by Me”, was released in 1988. Not only did it produce seven hit singles, including Wright’s cover of the 1974 Andy Kim hit – “Rock Me Gently” – but, more importantly, the album’s Canadian success led to a record contract with Arista Nashville.  Michelle Wright became one of the label’s flagship artists.

Queen Of Canadian Country Music Of The 90’s

The years during the 90’s was a whirlwind of success for Michelle Wright. It started in April 1990 with the release of Wright’s first American single, “New Kind Of Love”… then quickly followed up with a second album “Michelle Wright” in July of 1990. Consequently, Wright became the opening act for Kenny Rogers 1991 tour. The country music album became a huge success in Canada.

A Canadian Super Star Was Born

Michelle Wright immediately became one of Canada’s most widely recognized country music artists and most awarded female country singers. The 1990’s saw a string of awards and accolades for Michelle. 

In 1990 Michelle was awarded Female Artist of the Year by the Canadian Country Music Association.

In 1991 her awards included Album of the Year for “Michelle Wright”,  Single of the Year for her song “New Kind Of Love”, as well as, Female Artist Of The Year by The Canadian Country Music Association. The success of the album and the single encouraged Michelle to move to Nashville Tennessee to advance her career. This move inspired the start of the third album of her career.

Merritt BC Murals Selfie Photo

Take It Like A Man

1992 witnessed the release of Michelle Wright’s third album, “Now and Then”. The album’s first single “Take It Like A Man”, became an instant hit reaching #1 in Canada and #10 in the United States. The song crossed over to the contemporary charts, reaching Number #18 in Canada. The song was awarded Single Of The Year from The Canadian Country Music Association.

The Whirlwind Success Continues For Michelle Wright

1993 recognized Wright as the Top New Female Vocalist of The Year, for the album “Now and Then”, from the Academy of Country Music. In addition CBS featured her on a television special, Women of Country, where she performed “Take It Like a Man”.

The “Now and Then” album went on to produce six more singles including the Canadian number one hits “One Time Around” and “Guitar Talk”. The album also included “He Would Be Sixteen”, which reached #31 in the US and #3 on the charts in Canada. Winning Single of the Year for “He Would Be Sixteen” and The Fans Choice Award completed 1993 nicely for Michelle Wright.

1994 Wright, released the first single from her upcoming album “One Good Man”. Although it didn’t reach the top 40 in the US it became her fourth number one hit in Canada. Wright’s fourth album, “The Reason Why” was released in Canada in September. Cancellation of the release of the album in the US, resulted in the album’s release in Europe after a successful European tour. 

Michelle Wright On A Roll

1995 was a busy year for Michelle. She completed a 40 – city tour throughout Canada. Which at that time was the most extensive tour in the history of Canadian Country Music in Canada.

In August 1996, Wright released her fifth album, “For Me It’s You”, following the release of the first single, “Nobody’s Girl”, which reached No. 1 on the Canadian  Country Tracks and No. 57 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles . The album went on to be successful in Canada, producing three Top Five singles  “Crank My Tractor”, “The Answer Is Yes”, and “What Love Looks Like”.  

The Winding Down Of A Decade

In 1997 Wright keeps busy behind the scenes focusing on her humanitarian accomplishments such as her international work with the Special Olympics, her successful fundraising efforts for St. Joseph’s Hospital in Chatham, Ontario, as well as, her support for the Manitoba flood relief fund.

Because of her humanitarian efforts Michelle was awarded the C.F. Martin Humanitarian Award by the Canadian Country Music Association. The year came to a close for Michelle at The Canadian Country Music Awards, where she delivered a show-stopping gospel-tinged rendition of the Curtis Mayfield hit, “People Get Ready”, accompanied by a fifty-voice choir. A personal highlight for her career. She reflects:

“I still get goose bumps whenever I hear that version”

1998 saw a collaboration effort with pianist Jim Brickman producing the song “Your Love”.  The song was awarded the Vocal/Instrumental Collaboration Of The Year. In addition the video topped the CMT Canada charts.

“It felt great to be at that point in my career.”

1999 saw the “Greatest Hits Collection”. Michelle provided her listeners a look back at her ten magical years punctuated by hit after memorable hit.  Wright’s “The Greatest Hits Collection”, was released in Canada in October 1999. “I Surrender” and “When I Found You” two new songs, both became Top Ten hits. 

US radio welcomed Wright back after the “Greatest Hits Collection” due to the 1997 duet with pianist Jim Brickman. The song, “Your Love” gave Wright her only American adult contemporary hit reaching #19 on the Adult Contemporary Tracks. Despite the song’s success at AC radio, it would be Wright’s last charting single in the United States.

Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame

Successes Of The Next Decade 

The next decade adds to Michelle Wright’s incredible career and keeps her on the move.

The beginning of 2000, Michelle Wright: The Greatest Hits Collection was released. The album contained eleven of her hit songs that helped shape her career and celebrate her ten year anniversary with Arista/Nashville Records. This album was an overview of ten cherished years.

In 2002 Wright released five more CDs, generating more sales and more hits. “Shut Up and Kiss Me” was released in 2002.

Her first Christmas album, “A Wright Christmas”, released in Canada in 2005 and internationally on Savannah Music at Christmas time, 2008.

Savannah Music released the Album, “Everything And More”, in Canada in July, 2006, as well as internationally in late 2008. Savannah Music reissued, the remastered and repackaged edition of “Do Right By Me”, across North America in August, 2010, as well as internationally the following October. 

During 2009 and 2010 Michelle hit the road in Alberta and recorded live, “The Wright’s Songs” featuring a 17 song collection of her many hits on acoustic instruments. Savannah Music released this Album to Canada in 2011 as well as internationally in 2012

Merritt Murals of Canada

As a Country Music performer at The Merritt Mountain Music Festival, and returning to Merritt BC Canada to perform and support the Walk Of Stars as well as the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame Galas. Michelle Wright earned her place on the wall. 

July of 2004 seen Michelle Wright grace The Main Stage of The Merritt Mountain Music Festival, as well as making her hand print that year for The Merritt Walk of Stars.

In 2006, Michelle again graced The Main Stage of The Merritt Mountain Music Festival. That same year, Michelle became a part of the walls known as Merritt BC Murals. This same year she signed her mural. You can find the Michelle Wright Mural at 1701 Voght Street, among the walking tour of Merritt BC Murals.

Merritt Murals and Music 2.0

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.

June of 2009, the sixth annual Walk of Stars Gala set the stage again for Michelle Wright to wow the Country Music fans of Merritt. Michelle delivered a show stopping performance,  once again in June of 2012, for the eighth annual Walk of Stars Gala. 

Michelle recruited a new team in 2016. She continues to record and write songs as well as perform across the Country and around the world. She is still proving to her fans that she won’t be going anywhere anytime soon and that the feisty girl from rural, Merlin, Ontario will be sticking around. There is no doubt that this 2011 Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame Inductee continues to make Canada proud.

Or as she says, “What a way to make a living! I plan on making and playing music for a long time to come.”

Keep up to date and follow Michelle http://www.michelle-wright.com 

Country Music Artist Michelle Wright – Merritt BC Murals

Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame

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** Information resources include Michelle Wright website, Wikipedia and any social media pages.

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

History in Merritt, BC, Canada Read more

 First Nation Traditional Foods in Merritt BC

Nicola Valley British Columbia Canada First Nation Traditional Foods & Lodging

“We harvest berries in the traditional Nicola Valley areas, as well as, fish and hunt using the old ways and new ways.”

What type of First Nation traditional foods and lodging in the Nicola Valley have helped my people endure the hot summers and cold winters? My people, through many generations, have experienced the changing seasons of the Nicola Valley for generations. The extremes of our Nicola Valley weather systems have taught us many survival skills and have played a large part in growing our appreciation of our lands. How did the First Nation people survive is a journey I would like to share with you? 

My Ancestors Were Nomadic During The Spring, Summer, And Fall Seasons

My ancestors used to live throughout the Nicola Valley territory traveling in groups. Living a nomadic life on the move provided my people the food necessary to last through the long cold winter months. Families would gather together in our seasonal villages and enjoy cooking over the open  fire, and celebrating our traditions.

First Nation Traditional Foods and Lodging

Saskatoon berries I picked

We lived on berries …

First Nation traditional foods in Merritt and throughout the Nicola Valley consisted of berries like Saskatoon berries, huckleberries, choke cherries and soap berries.

And We Hunted And Fished…

My ancestors’ diet wasn’t limited to just berries. No… we also fished and hunted wild game. During the fall seasons, my First Nation people would fish the mighty Fraser River. My people of our village would catch enough fish to survive the long winters. During the entire year, dependent on the weather, village hunters pursued wild game while hunting with bows.

 How Did My People Preserve Their Traditional Foods In Merritt BC?

traditional foods and lodging

Tule mat lodging

    In the early days of my people we often preserved our traditional foods by drying it on specially made mats of tule reeds. Tule reeds were gathered during the winter months on the shores of nearby lakes. Properly prepared these reeds were used for drying and preserving many of our First Nation foods. My people would also make larger mats from the tule reeds to double as floors in their makeshift lean-to’s during the warmer months.

How Did The Nlaka’pamux People Carry All This Food?

traditional foods and lodging

Cedar Root basket

As gathers and hunters we required transportation of our goods. Before the introduction of horses to our culture by the Spaniards, my people would use dogs to transport our goods. Because we lacked horses at that time my people would walk to and from,  here and there with their dogs. The dogs would be saddled with food packed in ceder root baskets.

Where Did My People Live Back Then?

traditional foods and lodging

Traditional lodges made out of cedar bark at Tuckkwiowhum interpretive village in Boston Bar

My First Nation ancestors used all sorts of materials from the land and waters. Because of our nomadic nature we were often in need of a portable shelter.  In the summer months we used temporary shelters because of the ease of transportation moving from location to location. These portable lean-to’s were created out of fir boughs and tule mats. If the location required a longer stay my people would build these lean-to’s with cedar bark. 

What About The Winter? 

First Nation pit houses

Interior model of a traditional Sheeiskin

Those summer temporary shelters wouldn’t hold up to the long winters of the Nicola Valley. During the winter season our shelters would take on new materials to create a new kind of shelter more durable to the winter conditions.  This new shelter covered in earth is called a pit-house. In our first Nation tongue Nlaka’pamuxcin it is called a “Sheeiskin”

Lots of thought and planning went into these structures. They would spend weeks looking for a proper location, then, when they found an acceptable spot, the community would work together and help build a pit house.

The sheeiskins were typically conical in shape with a hole in the center, which would let the campfire smoke escape through the hole.  The First Nation men would enter down a ladder through the same center hole. while the women would enter through a side entrance. Each First Nation pit house could usually hold up to 3-4 families.  There are locations in the Nicola Valley where you can still see the pit houses left behind from old sheeiskins, like at Monck Provincial Park.

Traditional Ways Are Still Around

Our First Nation traditional foods and lodging made it possible for my ancestors to survive the four seasons of the Nicola Valley. 

traditional foods and lodging

Chokecherries I picked

Today we still harvest berries in the traditional areas and fish and hunt using the old ways – as well as the new. Our respect for our elders has never wavered.  Elders are given first servings of any food we have gathered, and they are the keepers of our history often sharing their stories of our traditional and cultural ways.

A questions I have for you:

What is the traditional name of the First Peoples in my own area?   

Please feel free to contact me with your answers. I always love learning about new cultures. 

Or, if you also are Nlaka’pamux, share your stories with me!

See you later!  

(In many First Nation’s languages there is no word for “Good-bye”, as that word may be interpreted as I will never see that person again.)

 

 

 

Historic Murray Church

The oldest building in the Nicola Valley

“The quaint little white church, the first in the area.”

One of the most iconic attractions in the Nicola Valley is the historic Murray Church. Located in the Nicola Valley on highway 5A just northeast of Merritt, the quaint little white church, the first in the area. Built in 1876 the Murray Church is the oldest building in the Nicola Valley and also the only building still standing made with local Nicola Valley lumber. If you peek in the windows you can get an idea of what a 19th century church looked like back in the day. It has a pulpit at the front, pews waiting to be filled, and stained glass windows at the back.

Historic Murray Church - Experience Nicola Valley

Historic Murray Church

Murray Church originally starts out as a Presbyterian Church and in 1927 became Murray United Church. The church named after its founder Rev. George Murray is the most photographed church in all of the southern interior of BC.

Murray Church cemetery

A small cemetery surrounds it with several dozen headstones, some crumbled and worn, but mostly still legible. These told the story of a harder period in history, when many didn’t make it past the age of 50. One headstone marked the grave of a young mother who died just 19 days before her infant daughter. There was also a number of unmarked graves, distinguished only by small piles of rocks or wooden fences. Walking amongst these graves, some marked with ornate marble headstones and some just with a pile of stones, was a somber but fascinating experience.

About the founder – Rev. George Murray

Murray United Church - Experience Nicola Valley

Reverend George Murray

Reverend George Murray first arrived in the Nicola Valley in 1875. rev. George Murray, who became the only Presbyterian minister in B.C. for five years after his arrival. A graduate of the University of Glasgow, rev. Murray had previously ministered to the district extending from Yale to Clinton, including Ashcroft and Lillooet. Perched on a saddle and armed with a Bible, the reverend travelled through the wilderness on horseback covering a circuit of 600 miles. Now the Nicola Valley was added to his parish. As he travelled the circuit, the reverend would camp outdoors, or sleep at whatever house he happened to be near when night fell. As more settlers arrived, the village of Nicola began to take shape and the more optimistic looked forward to the day when it might become a great city. 

Rev. Murray was accepted into the valley and soon found his way into the people’s hearts. In 1876, with their help, he began construction of Murray Church. It was originally St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church as the local Presbyterian pioneer families. The Clappertons and the Moores were no doubt among the founders of the church. While living in the Valley, the reverend’s travels took him to surrounding settlements, holding services on alternate Sundays as far away as Stump Lake, Douglas Lake and down the valley to the old 22-Mile House. On special occasions he held services at Aspen Grove and Mamette Lake. Every other Sunday, he preached morning and evening in the little church at Nicola and in the afternoon at either Lower Nicola, or Forksdale (which later became Merritt).

Nicola Ranch home of the Murray Church

The Nicola Ranch is situated around Murray United Church. Major Goldman in 1919 purchased the Nicola Ranch and Town site in Nicola, which grew to some 300,000 acres. He owned all the way up to Monck Provincial Park. Which is now that name. He named this park after his son Commander Victor Robert Penryn Monck Goldman of the Royal Navy. Charles Sydney Major Goldman was a British businessman, author, and journalist who served as a Member of Parliament (MP) from 1910 until 1918. There is a memorial stone in the Murray Church yard. He had purchased all the land including the land that the Murray United Church on today. 

Much to the regret of the early pioneers, the great city that had been hoped for at Nicola did not materialize. Coal was discovered at Forksdale and with the completion of the railroad into the valley in 1908, Merritt began to grow at the expense of Nicola.

Historic Murray Church - Experience Nicola Valley

“Strings Plus” concert.

Today the Murray Church stands among the pioneer buildings of the original village of Nicola and the newly renovated buildings that serve the Nicola Lake Ranch.

Historic Murray Church today!!

 

This year the Murray Church has undergone renovations to restore the building to it’s former glory. 

Regular services there were terminated in 1957 and today the church is only open for special occasions, such as Easter Sunday service, wedding ceremonies and most recently “Strings Plus” concert.  Anyone is welcome to any of the services. Please contact the Trinity United Church 1899 Quilchena Ave. Merritt BC 250-378-5735 for more information.

If you are a history buff this attraction will definately be of interest to you!!!

Take a selfie and post your visit on www.experiencenicolavalley.com.