The store is up!! The store is up!! http://www.cafepress.ca/redwhiteandcountry !! Please go check it out for some really awesome Red, White and Country Gear!! There are still a few things that need to get up there but this is the bulk of it. As I add new products, I will let you know.
I would like to take a moment to send positive thoughts and prayers to the folks in Fort McMurray, Alberta. For those of you who don’t know, wild fires have ravaged this part of the country causing thousands to be evacuated from their homes and from the community in general. If you would like to help the cause, please text REDCROSS to 30333 to make a donation. It will be added to your phone bill. If you wish to donate more, The Red Cross has also set up an Alberta Fires appeal. This is the link: https://donate.redcross.ca/ea-action/action?ea.client.id=1951&ea.campaign.id=50610 . You can also contact The Red Cross by calling 1-800-418-1111. Hang in there Fort Mac. We are routing for you.
If you are a big Dolly Parton fan and have always wanted to see her live, this may be your opportunity. According to the Calgary Herald, this vivacious 70 year-old will be performing at the Calgary Saddledome on September 16. The country superstar will be performing material from her impressive career which spans over 50 years. This is also the first time that Parton has toured in Canada in over 20 years. Keep an eye out this summer for the release of her 2-disc collection called “Pure and Simple” which features some of Dolly’s largest hits. If you would like to see this living legend live, tickets went on sale on Saturday May 7 at www.livenation.com. You can also order by phone at 1-855-985-5000.
Let The Music Do The Talking:
Ok. This has got to be one of the strangest things I came across on the internet in the few couple of days. Well…at least where country music is concerned. Naturally, I HAD to write about it.
Steven Tyler, long time front man of Aerosmith and American Idol judge, is heading out on a 19 city solo tour. (wait for it…) He will NOT be backed by Aerosmith, rather Nashville-based band Loving Mary. (that still isn’t it…) Tyler wanted to create a more intimate experience for his fans that will include stories about some of the popular songs. It will also include some songs from Tyler’s solo COUNTRY project. Yes…I said it. Steven Tyler has a country album coming out. It currently has no official release date. He is a realist about what to expect from this project. He knows that it won’t take off and break sales records. However, it is important for him to follow the ideas he has. Tyler was quoted as saying, “I’m such a passionate person that if I don’t go after my muse like that, I’ll wind up on drugs again.” Tyler and Loving Mary have 2 Canadian dates so far; July 10th in Vancouver and September 13th in Toronto. I can’t believe that I am about to say this….but DAMN….I wish I could see this show! I have a feeling that it is going to be bigger than he, you or I can expect.
Because of this blog, I have had the opportunity to interview some very interesting and talented folks across North America. Ray Gibson is no exception to this. Not only is this British Columbia native really talented but when it comes down to it, she is friendly and a country girl at heart. I was able to pin her down for a chat a while back and we had a great time!
Ray discovered her musical ability at a very young age. She started playing the piano by ear at the age of 3. Coming from a family where music was played for fun, her mother, father and grandmother all played piano by ear as well. Her brother also played piano and her sister was in band. At 15, she learned how to play the guitar by ear and that soon was followed by the ukulele, banjo and mandolin. She took one music class – to learn the clarinet. But when they asked her to learn to read the notes she asked, “Can’t we play this by how it feels?” When she told me that she started playing music at such a young age, I asked her how her childhood was different from her friends. “Well, I could have gotten outside more and played in the dirt,” she laughed. She always found an excuse to not go outside and play, often coming home to hit the books so she could spend the rest of her time playing the piano. Now, that isn’t to say that Ray wasn’t involved in extracurricular activities. Not only did she take choir in high school, she also played soccer and took highland dancing for about 10 years.
Music is where Ray’s heart lies, and it shows. On her last EP, she “made sure she covered all the emotions”. Her debut single “In Your Kiss” released on Canadian Country Radio on September 14, 2015 and her EP released on iTunes on October 12, 2015. Some of the songs on the EP were co-written, so I wanted her take on the pros and cons of co-writing. Unable to give me a con, Ray said that she was really nervous to start the process. “I didn’t want to hurt their feelings,” she started, “But I had to learn that it was a song and you have to do what’s best for the song.” The other benefits of co-writing in her eyes are that you can learn from other people’s experiences and that when you are writing on your own, you are stuck with what you have. “There are no other thoughts on the process.” She writes with several groups of people and enjoys changing up. She does admit that her style has changed over the last few years. When I asked her about her early work, she said, “If I could describe my first EP, it was pretty safe.” She also used the term “lovey-dovey”, which made both of us laugh. But as Ray grows and has more experiences, she feels as though she is finding her voice, who she is, and is discovering what kind of artist she wants to be. She feels that now she is “pushing boundaries”.
Ray has an extremely strong social media presence and it is because of this, she has caught the attention of Carrie Underwood, Brett Eldridge, Chase Rice and Chris Lane. I asked Ray what thoughts ran through her head when she saw that Carrie Underwood, who was a huge inspiration for her, had taken interest in her work. “My mind kinda went blank for a second because I couldn’t believe it.” She also mentioned that when you are starting out as a performer that there is a lot of self-doubt, so something like this was encouraging. In an industry that can be frustrating to be a part of, Ray says, “Something I had to accept was to know that I wasn’t always going to be accepted.” She continued by saying that it is hard to understand and realize that you aren’t always going to be everyone’s cup of tea. “It’s frustrating because you work so hard at your craft and you work on a specific song or rehearse for a specific show and you always get mixed reviews from people. It’s definitely a hard thing to overcome when not everyone is going to love you.” She did turn a negative in to a positive by adding that it is a good thing to go through because “it makes you stronger”.
Keeping this in mind, I wanted to find out her take on being a female in the country music business. There is this common misconception that female singers all sound the same, thus inhibiting their ability to become really successful. She said, “I don’t think I can agree completely with that.” She continued, “There are a lot of female artists that are completely different.” She mentioned that females in this business are now more likely to stand up for each other and produce more risky music. We agreed that there are a number of men in the industry that sound the same and that it’s up to the audiences now. “We need to get out of the ‘Bro Country’ trend and listen to the females more.”
Although Ray has been welcomed to Nashville with open arms, she prides herself on being a Canadian country girl. This term means a lot of different things to different people. I asked her what it means to her. She replied, “I think it is just about being proud of where you are from and being proud of the people around you.” She went on to say, “The industry here in Canada is such a great community. Everyone is so encouraging. With the female artists here, it’s not a competition; we’re not going up against each other. We’re kind of teaming up. We’re doing this together.” This was really important when it came to being in the top 6 for the CCMA discovery award in which all of the recipients were female. Ray said that the experience was one of the best things she has been a part of so far. The program helped the artists learn about the industry and helped them find themselves as artists.
This charming young lady has had a busy schedule, including being in the top 8 emerging artists and performing a Boots and Hearts, performing at an after party for Florida Georgia Line, and sharing the stage with Aaron Pritchett, Tyler Ward and Wes Mack. To unwind from such a hectic life, she enjoys reading and running and of course, looking for new music. She admits, “I am like a grandma! I like to go to bed really early.” She really appreciates her alone time. I wanted to know what her on the road necessity. She laughed, “Ok, this is going to sound really cheesy. One thing I have to bring is a Polaroid of my boyfriend and I that he gave me before I played at Boots and Hearts.” He had put the picture in a frame and wrote “Believe in yourself because I believe in you. Good Luck” on the back.
This girl is sweet and blessed with amazing talent. It was an absolute pleasure speaking to her. Please check out her website (raygibsonmusic.com) and be sure to follow her twitter (@raygibsonmusic). In the meantime, you should listen to this – “In Your Kiss” by Ray Gibson: