Singer George Canyon continues to break new ground creatively while sticking to his homegrown roots.
The popular artist is also thrilled to be hitting the road this spring with his ‘Hit After Hit’ Tour 2019 joined by Doc Walker, Charlie Major and newcomer Manny Blu.
The guys perform at Bo’s in Red Deer on May 6th.
Meanwhile, his recently released and thoroughly engaging rock-tinged single, Out of This Town, is a clear testament to not only his power as a solid vocalist, but his striking versatility as well.
But his creative expression doesn’t end there – Canyon has also been making appearances onstage and on the small screen as well.
In fact, he pointed out it was acting that evolved into his career as a musician, which has seen him land armloads of accolades and chart-topping hits over the years, too.
His latest full-length disc, Southside of Heaven, was released last year.
“We recorded that record ‘live off the floor’, which provides a magic that you don’t always have when you don’t record that way,” he added. “Back in the day, that is of course how we did records. And then things changed, and you would piece records together. Someone might be playing guitar in one studio, drums in another and bass in another. There was an element of magic that got lost.”
That’s why he’s sticking to the same formula for two EPs that are currently in the works.
“My biggest drive right now is to get the music out to the radio stations and the fans because I’ve sat on about 16 songs for two years. These are the songs I want to record and that I want to release, so we are going to town!
“It’s an exciting time for me musically – I don’t think I’ve been this excited over new music in a long time,” he said.
As mentioned, Canyon has landed loads of recognition over the years, having been inducted into the Nova Scotia Country Music Hall of Fame for starters.
He also was recently presented a certified platinum award for his debut album One Good Friend.
Canyon is also a highly regarded humanitarian, strong supporter of the military, and, most importantly, a proud father and devoted husband. His work as spokesperson for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) and his ongoing support for Canada’s Armed Forces have also earned him much national and international recognition.
As mentioned, many folks might recognize Canyon for his roles on the silver screen as well from Charlie Wells in the hit television show Heartland and the head forest ranger in Trailer Park Boys to the role of Bull Shelton in the Hallmark Channel’s highest-rated original movie One Starry Christmas.
He also guest-starred onstage in the musical production of Grease last year at the Winter Garden Theatre in Toronto.
“Acting is the reason I went full-time into the music business,” he explained. “I was in university, and I had an opportunity to be in a musical. That actually got me into a band that I had auditioned for, and we started playing shows down there and went on the road. I never went back to university, so yes, acting is kind of responsible for my career, in getting it going,” he said. “I love it. I enjoy the acting side of things – movies, TV and live theatre.”
Looking back further, Canyon was ‘bitten’ by the music bug pretty early on.
“I started playing when I was five. Mom and dad gave me my first little acoustic guitar, and I just practiced everyday. I was just a sponge,” he recalled. “I got my first electric guitar when I was 11.
“I was listening to what was the beginning of 80s rock and roll, too. I remember playing mom and dad’s vinyls and playing by ear, as I had no formal training. And I just went from there. It was ‘all music’. It was my thing.”
Influences ran the gamut from Johnny Cash, George Jones and Gordon Lightfoot to Ian Tyson, Stan Rogers and Randy Travis. “I listened to everything.”
Singing also came naturally, but even though his music skills were sharpening, Canyon didn’t have his sites set on a career in music per se. “I was going to be an air force pilot.”
But music would have the final word, and fans have been grateful for that ever since his road took that particular turn.
In 2004, with his wife’s support, Canyon set out to compete on U.S.A. Network’s Nashville Star, an American Idol-type show with a country twist. That appearance led to a record contract and his breakout album, 2004’s One Good Friend.
The album was also honoured with numerous awards including the Juno Award for Country Recording of the Year, Canadian Country Music Awards (CCMA) for Male Artist of the Year and Single of the Year for My Name.
Over the years, he has also collaborated with fellow talents, including pop and rock icon Richard Marx to produce two albums, 2008’s What I Do and 2011’s Better Be Home Soon.
Ultimately, the gift of song is what has captured Canyon’s heart and it’s what he feels most at home doing. And Canyon isn’t strictly a country artist – he’s currently working on a children’s record and an east coast-styled project as well.
“For me, it’s just about making music. And many might think because I’m in the country music business, I just make country music. But I don’t. Nor do I just write country music. I love getting that 80s sound going! I love the 80s – I’m such a big fan,” he added with a laugh.
“Probably 80 to 90 per cent of the time, that’s what I will immediately listen to. Something happened with the melodies in the 80s that I don’t think has ever been repeated.”
Still, country remains his primary and cherished genre.
“The one element to country that has always attracted me are the ‘story’ songs,” he said. “When a song can cause that kind of magic. I’ve always been drawn to it.”