Another Good Day.
HarbourLiving.ca Talks with Country Superstar
She is one of Canada’s most widely recognized and awarded country singers, with over 40 major music industry awards to her credit, a string of 25 Top Ten hits on Canadian radio, seven Number One singles...and a Hall of Fame induction.
Last week HarbourLiving.ca spoke with acclaimed Canadian country music songstress Michelle Wright. She opens up about her newest single “Another Good Day,” her upcoming tour in Canada, as well as her induction into the prestigious Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame.
HL: This is really exciting time for you, and here on Vancouver Island we're pretty excited to be kicking off this adventure with you on the first stops of your Songs from the Halls Tour.
MW: I really can't imagine a more beautiful part of the country to start. I'm excited to be bringing up some new bandmates with me who haven't ever seen this part of Canada, so it'll be amazing. And we're certainly excited about the music. I think it might be a once-in-a-lifetime kind of tour for me, as we're celebrating my Hall of Fame induction! After the induction happened, we started talking about how we might celebrate it and this tour concept came together. It's my chance to go out and share it with the fans. I thought it'd be so fun to do my songs alongside the songs by other artists whe influenced me - people like Bonnie Raitt, U2, Sarah McLaughlan, Anne Murray, Joni Mitchell.... Songs from the 50s, right up to now by Hall of Fame inductees.HL: I think that will be meaningful for the audience, too. Hearing this collection of classic songs that we absolutely recognize will give us an understanding of what it means to be a Hall of Fame member and of the musical legacy we've got.
MW: You won't hear a song that you don't know and my hope is that you'll feel the way I do when I sing them.HL: You've influenced a whole generation of country music superstars and have had a huge influence in the country crossover phenomenon. Through the songs you've chosen for the tour, we'll be understanding who influenced you.
MW: My mother and father were country music singers and they grew up on a farm with no TV and one radio station. Then the next generation came along, from Soul Train to American Bandstand and I listened to all kinds of music on the radio. Like so many country artists, I was influenced by a really broad base of music and that's always presented itself in my music.HL: So who's influencing you now?
MW: I'm really liking Keith Urban.HL: Yeah, me too.
MW: (laughs) Really! I'm a huge fan of his music. It's passionate and dynamic and country and pop...all the things that I respond to. And the voice! I'm quite fascinated by the singing skills that present themselves today by the new artists. Their ability to sing as well as they do from such a young age is amazing. My niece is twelve years old and she listens to music from Taylor Swift to Beyonce and Riyanna, and what's amazing to me to hear her sing along and match the the vocal gymnastics found in music today. The vocal skills are so much more developed than in the generations before. I'm listening to a wide variety of things, and when I hear something unique and different, like Adele or Amy Winehouse, I really respond to it. I wouldn't know this if I didn't spend time with my niece!HL: I think artists are getting more curious about music in general, and it's bending the genre barriers further. Do you find that great voices, great songs and great musicianship are influencing artists across all styles?
MW: Yes. It's the time for music right now. And the thing that I hope for as an artist is that there will always be room for uniqueness, things never done before. In country music, I also hope that we will keep our traditions alive as we continue to expand a contemporary sound and make room for the artists that want to be traditional. That might seem like a strange thing coming from me, as I was someone was pushing the envelope...but now I find myself protecting the format as well.
HL: How have you managed to achieve longevity in the music business, balancing the commercial expectations of the industry with your own artistic goals and your own values?
MW: Now there's the question. It's very challenging. There comes a time when you might not be considered relevant any more, and you have to stare that down and at the same time try to hang on to the unique thing that you do. It's always been challenging to come to terms with the box that you have to fit in and the doors that close. It's so wonderful to me that I've faced those challenges, because the unique sound of my voice has never fit into the mold and has allowed me to have the kind of career that I've had. People identify my voice immediately, and it's been the key to my success. I've always tried to keep to what I believe in.
HL: The trends will change but style lasts. And part of the appeal of your music from the beginning, and consistently throughout the records is a certain sincerity and honesty that speaks to people. It comes through your voice, the type of songs you choose...and something more than that. That's something special and timeless.
MW: That's just about the nicest thing anybody can say to me.
HL: I'm sure it's a tricky line to walk. But you can't fool the audience.
MW: Maybe for awhile, but not for 25 years. They know me too well by now. It can be a real challenge to write songs and pick songs that let me be true to myself.
HL: People are interacting differently with the music and with the artists and are sharing like never before with the availability of social media.Your Facebook following is significant, and it's just not something
you could have imagined when you started out.
MW: I absolutely love it! Initially I was hesitant, as it just felt so open that it made me a bit nervous. But I've jumped in with both feet and it's been really fun. I'm amazed at how much the fans want to encourage and support me. It's been a beautiful discovery, and very inspiring. And I'm a fan too! I can have an immediate connection with people that I respect and admire too and have that instant communication.
HL: You were busy earlier this month during Country Music Week and the CCMAs. What was the big highlight for you?
MW: It was being at the Hall of Fame induction ceremony, and hearing Johnny Burke sing. He's one of our great traditional singers and a wonderful man. Just to hear a voice like that. That's the thing that motivates and inspires me. When I hear something like that I feel happy to be alive. I didn't expect my reaction, and when I looked around I could see that many people felt the same way.
HL: Despite everything else, in the end it's simple, isn't it? It's all about the music and the power to move people.
MW: That's it. That's what it all is.
HL: Listening to your new single "Another Good Day" I couldn't help but notice how upbeat and positive it is. Is that where you are in your life right now?
MW: Definitely. I have a very great life. I've got a wonderful husband and a great team of people around me. A close family, friends and many successes in life to celebrate.
HL: Do you think this CD will speak to people in a time that's less than optimistic?
MW: Yes. I have friends going through troubled times, through divorce, and health problems. And they want to hear hopeful music. They told me that they want to hear the good things and encouraged me to be that messenger if that's where life has led me now.
HL: It's fantastic that you're in such a positive space in life and that you're in a position to share it.
MW: In spite of all the challenges and losing family members like we all do...I have a perspective that's full of gratitude. I've also come to realize that I am in a position of influence and that it matters.
HL: What's something that our audience might be surprised to know about you?
MW: They'd be surprised at how domestic I am! I love to cook and clean, to garden and do things organized around the house and dote over my husband. I love a cozy environment and a home with food cooking. Maybe if I wasn't ever on the road and had to do it all 24-7 it might not be so exciting!
HL: One of the things we're about is to encourage our audience to get out and explore, to do things they've never done before. What about you? Is there something you're yearning to do that you haven't gotten to yet?
MW: Wow. Does it sound crazy to say that I've done most everything? I've been so fortunate in this life and I've seen and done so many incredible things that I don't think I could ask for more.
HL: Not too many people can say that.
MW: I know! I've travelled to every continent in the world except Antarctica, I've sang for the troops in Afghanistan...Actually, one thing that my husband and I have been wanting to do is to get to Italy. My husband is Italian and has been studying the language for a few years now, so that's something that we really want to do. And I want to sing harmony. That's just something I've never really done and would really like to learn.
HL: Maybe Keith Urban would help you out with that one. You should Facebook him.
MW: I'll do that!
See Michelle Wright's Songs from the Halls Tour!
Sat. October 13th, 2012
Tidemark Theatre in Campbell River
Sun. October 14th, 2012
Port Theatre in Nanaimo
Mon. October 15th, 2012
Qualicum Beach Civic Centre