When Stettler’s Q93.3 celebrates its four decades of radio service to the Stettler and surrounding communities, country music star and Alberta boy Bobby Wills will be taking the stage.
While Wills is able to fill large venues with his fans, coming to Stettler for the more intimate community celebration has a great deal of meaning to him, as does helping the local station celebrate its milestone.
“Radio stations have been very good to us over the years,” he said of not only himself, but other local musicians. “Any time you get to go to the smaller communities, you jump at the chance. These are my favourite shows — a little more intimate, one-on-one. It feels like music should be.”
Wills grew up in Calgary in an adopted family that didn’t have much of a musical bent. It was a good life, he noted — full of sports and love, but it wasn’t until he found his birth parents that he found that music literally flowed in their veins.
“(Music) was always burning in my heart,” he said. “It wasn’t until I was in my 20s that I really began to explore it.”
Starting so late came with its own challenges. It might have been “cool” to be in a band in high school, but as an adult, people are expected to get a job and look toward a future. Becoming a relatively young father put pressure on Wills too.
Still, he chased after music.
“Mom and dad were worried at first,” he admitted with a chuckle. “After they got to see a show, they changed direction.”
While once worried, his parents are now his biggest supporters as he chases his dream. That chasing has brought Wills four Canadian Country Music Association nominations and one award – for Rising Star in 2013.
With a new album ready to drop in March, Tougher than Love, Wills is departing from his norm just a bit.
“It’s an example of fun songs,” he said. “I think what you want to do as an artist is not repeat yourself.”
Wills performs Friday, Feb. 5 at the Stettler Community Hall.