Country singer Donny Lee is gearing up for a Stettler show slated for Nov. 2nd – presented by the Stettler Variety Showcase.
Lee’s show, which includes dinner, takes place at the Stettler Community Hall. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. with dinner at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are available at Wish Kitchen & Gift on Main Street.
Lee has built up a tremendous reputation over the years as a first-rate country performer. A passion for music was sparked early in life, he recalled during a recent interview.
“My mom and dad both played in bands, and my brother and my sisters used to sing and play guitar – stuff like that. We used to enter into singing competitions all across southern Ontario,” he said. All of these experiences certainly had an impact on Lee from early on. “I knew right away,” he said, referring to a realization that music was indeed the path he wanted to follow. “I knew there was nothing better than that.”
Indeed – as a young performer and a two consecutive year first place winner of the Canadian Open Singing Competition held in Simcoe, Ontario, Lee discovered his natural talent of entertaining and singing country music.
He wrote and recorded his first album Who I Am as well as a follow-up disc Better Believe It produced by CCMA Producer Of the Year Bart McKay. Also, four songs have been released to Canadian country radio since 2017 and his fourth release Two Lane High had a successful 17-week run in the Top 100 chart.
He has also been nominated as Male Artist of the Year with the Alberta Country Music Association in both 2017 and 2018.
There has always been much about country music that he has found compelling.
“First of all, I’m a fan. I like to listen to the classics – a wide assortment all the way from Luke Holmes to Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson. I’m just a fan.
“You start to live the songs, and it’s a great feeling,” he said. “Right from the very beginning, I’ve also been a fan of guys like Ronnie Milsap, Merle Haggard, Conway Twitty, George Jones and Keith Whitley. Garth Brooks, from the entertainment aspect, changed my life – no question about it. And guys like Joe Diffie – it seemed like every song he touched turned to a number one record,” he explained.
“I also remember the first album I ever bought was a Dwight Yoakam record. So those guys definitely paved the road for who I am today for sure.”
And due to its intrinsic storytelling richness, there is also something special about experiencing an entire country CD as opposed to just selecting a tune here or there. “If you just download one song, you aren’t getting a real feel for the artist.
“I kind of do things still the old way – I love to hear the entire album.”
For Lee, it’s been and continues to be an exhilarating ride.
For a stretch of time, he was away from the music biz and tapped into a number of lines of work. “There was not a day that went by when I wasn’t thinking about being up on stage playing my guitar. And the fact that I get to do this with my wife and my kids supporting me and being a part of it is great. My wife and I write songs together, she manages the business, books the tours. My kids get involved, too. They help with the song selection for the albums that are coming out.
“They also do lyric videos with us. Every member of my family gets to be a part of it. If you are out there by yourself doing this, and your family is not a part of it, it’s going to be a real struggle for them,” he said. “For us, it’s about the entire family. And they travel with me almost all of the time.”
Meanwhile, he does about 300 shows per year.
“Those are anywhere from two to four hours of music per show. So that’s a lot of singing! And no set is ever the same,” he said. “We just did a string of shows in Alberta recently, and the entire premise of the shows was it was all requests. We didn’t have a set list. We just literally took any requests from the crowd. All four shows we did were completely different.”
It’s that kind of spontaneity that continues to endear Lee to his loyal fanbase.
“It’s a great way to engage the crowd.”
For more information, check out www.stettlershowcase.com.