Well, hello again. I am back from Calgary and from a great break at the lake for a couple of days. What some of you know and what a lot of you don’t is that I am also a reiki master. So this week, I started doing reiki and tarot out of Sundragon Studios here in Winnipeg. I am really excited about it so I hope you will all come and see me. Have no fear, it is only for a couple of days a week so there will be plenty of time for me to keep on bringing you amazing content. I still have so much to write and I have a TON of great things lined up!
On with the show!
The last couple of weeks has brought us some very sad and tragic news. I have always said that I wanted to bring you news that showed the good and decent side of humanity. I would, however, like to say that I am aware that these things have happened but that I have consciously chosen NOT to discuss them here. Everyone has different views and opinions on things like these and my purpose is to not start a political/social disagreement. We are all here for the common love of country music so let’s focus on something that brings us together instead of things that could potentially pull us apart. Deal? Deal.
Living The Life:
Last summer there were several celebrities who had marriages that ended. Included in that wave was Reba McEntire and her husband and manager of 26 years, Narvel Blackstock. The divorce wasn’t her idea and she was more than willing to work on it. Because Narvel was also her manager, it forced her hand in to managing her own career, which is something else that she never really planned on.
But don’t worry about Reba. She has been keeping busy and loving life! She was quoted in People as saying, “I’m having a great time traveling and working. I’ve got a great team of people I’m working with who are coming up with new ideas for me to do things that I haven’t done in the past.” She is currently living it up with Brooks and Dunn during their stint at Caesar’s Coliseum in Las Vegas.
It truly looks like Reba has bounced back and is having a blast being single. You go, girl!
A Few Good Friends Of Mine:
If you remember a few weeks back Jason Blaine answered a few questions for me. Well, I just can’t get enough of this guy! Apart from being devilishly handsome, he is extremely sweet and so community minded (which is something we discussed in our email interview). This week was the 3rd Annual Jason Blaine Celebrity Charity Golf Classic. It is held in Blaine’s hometown of Pembroke, Ontario. The day included a golf tourney as well as a star-studded gala held at the Pembroke Memorial Centre. Attendees were treated to performances by Jason (of course), Dallas Smith, Jason McCoy, Ben Rutz and The River Town Saints (who of course are HILARIOUS).
The event raised $80,000 for its beneficiaries this year which include The Pembroke and Area Boys and Girls Clubs, The Algonquin College Waterfront Campus Campaign (Blaine’s Alma Mater) and the Pembroke Petawawa District Community Foundation (which supports the St. Joseph’s Food Bank, the St. Vincent de Paul Soup Kitchen and the local Salvation Army).
In true Jason fashion, he turned the focus off of him and brought the organisers in to the spotlight. He is quoted as saying, “These people right here have the biggest hearts, and they’re so community minded and they’re all tremendously smart and talented and lovely, lovely people. I just love them to death.”
If you needed another reason to adore this guy, I believe I just gave you one.
There are some people who you meet in this world that reaffirm your faith in the human race. They are friendly and kind and, most importantly, genuine. Tianna Woods and her father Bob Woods are a glowing example of these kinds of people.
I met Tianna while I was at the CMAO Conference and Awards at the end of May. Tianna was up for several awards that weekend (Female Artist of the Year, Single of the Year, Album of the Year, and her producer was up for “Bring Your Own Sunshine”). She took some time for me and we had breakfast with her dad. I have never done an artist/parent interview before, but over this weekend I did a couple of them. It is a very interesting perspective to get on the industry, especially since Bob is also her manager.
Originating from Burlington Ontario, Tianna went to the Etobicoke School of the Arts. So while you and I were learning how to make mac and cheese and learning how to hem pants, Tianna was taking musical theatre. She also took music lessons and dance classes. At one point she was taking 11 classes a week! She plays several instruments. She started with the organ when she was young and now plays the piano, the sax, the clarinet, the guitar, the fiddle, the drums and the North American flute. She is learning a couple of new instruments but said she is saving them as a surprise. Sorry gang! I tried to get it out of her and she wouldn’t budge! Her parents had a philosophy, “Do whatever you want, learn whatever you want, take as many lessons as you want, but you can’t quit.” So I asked Bob how he managed to balance a job, a family and carting a kid to 11 lessons a week. “I didn’t! Half the time I didn’t know where I was going!” He mentioned that there would be sometimes that she would be changing in the back seat of the car as they went from one lesson to another. I couldn’t believe that. He added, “Discipline was the big thing and she had lots of discipline.” It was obvious that Tianna was one of those people who if she sets her mind to something, she is going to do it.
One thing I love about Bob is that he is brutally honest about his position as her manager and has no fear of saying, “I’m the boss, this is what I want you to do. Get it done.” Tianna and Bob both admit that it can be challenging making that father/manager separation. But Bob said the hardest part for him is when he is speaking to people in the industry. “They think I am talking to them as her dad.” What they don’t realize is that Bob treats her like any of the band members. If she screws up, he is going to tell her. He has a background in coaching artistic roller skating (and has been a world champion). He records her performances and goes over them with her and critiques it. Tianna takes criticism extremely well. “She takes it as a lesson.” Interestingly, Tianna never picked up the skating bug. “I am a terrible roller skater,” she laughed. Bob added that Tianna was the DJ at the rink they owned. I mentioned to them that I was once in roller derby for a short stint. Bob…I am still holding you to that roller skating date the next time I am out your way!
Our conversation moved over to her music. One thing I love about Tianna is her voice has this crystal clear traditional country sound. It reminds me of Reba or Terri Clark. We started taking about the loss of the traditional country sound, which was a topic that came up a few times during our panel sessions over the weekend. “I don’t try to sound like anyone else.” She is inspired by many different things and enjoys many styles of music. She tends to pick songs based on the feeling she gets from them and the melody has to really grab her. On a personal level, she tries to pick positive songs because she does want to be a positive role model. Because of that comment, I asked her about women in the industry being highly sexualized. I wanted to know her thoughts on that. “They should portray the image they want to portray,” she started, “I like to portray myself as sexy but classy.” Bob was quick to jump in, “Everything she wears has to go past her mom and I. Period.”
Since we were already there, we started talking about the future of females in country music, another hot topic that came up over the weekend. Tianna replied, “People just want to focus on the men right now.” She is, however, hoping that it is starting to turn around. Bob found himself having to bite his tongue during one of the panels. One of the artist admitted that girls have a hard time in the business. He found himself wanting to ask, “How often do you have a girl open for you? Do ANY of you have women open for you?” Both Tianna and Bob feel that it is their responsibility to help fellow artists, male or female. Tianna added, “Radio people themselves have to change.” Keeping this at top of mind, I asked her how she copes with setbacks. “You just keep going. If you dwell on that, you’re never going to get anywhere.”
Tianna has written in Nashville but has always recorded in Canada. They mentioned to me that they’ve had several offers from labels in Nashville to record down there. They’ve said no every time and kept the recording process here. Bob said, “If we are going to do country music then we can do it the way we do country music. We don’t have to sound like we’re from Nashville.” Because we were talking about the Nashville sound, I asked Tianna’s her thoughts on the “Bro Country” movement. She replied, “I like the music. I like music regardless. I just wish that radio would start accepting female music as well.”
Disability case manager by day, country singing sweetheart by night, I asked Tianna how she manages some type of work-life balance. “You have to be dedicated. Time management is very important.” That’s all great, but what does this girl do for fun? In true manager fashion, Bob piped in, “Practice!” Tianna laughed, “Yes, practice,” she continued by telling me that she likes to go to movies and dinner with friends and enjoys going to see live music.
As we started to wind up our breakfast, I asked Tianna what the strangest thing that has happened at a show has been. She and her dad both burst out laughing. While playing a fall festival in Mitchell, Ontario, the crowd had gone from quiet to a little rowdy after 10 pm. “One guy decided he was going to drop his pants! He literally dropped his pants in front of everybody!” Bob added, “I’ve got the video to prove it!” I was heartbroken to have to finish such a lovely morning with these two. But she had to prepare for the awards show. I couldn’t let her walk away without asking what the last pic she took on her phone was. “Patricia Conroy, while she was playing at the conference yesterday.”
This is an amazing young lady. Her drive and dedication are so inspiring and I believe that she truly is a positive role model for anyone who is moving in to any kind of demanding career. You need to visit her website: (http://www.tiannawoods.com), go like her Facebook page: (https://www.facebook.com/tiannawoodsfanpage) and check out her YouTube channel: (https://www.youtube.com/user/TiannaWoods). Here is a little preview. This is “Bring Your Own Sunshine” by Tianna Woods live at the CMAO 2016 Awards show: