Emerging country singer Lindsay Ell featured tonight

Country singer Lindsay Ell, originally from Calgary, is hitting the stage big time tonight with The Band Perry at the Centrium.

Showtime is 7:30 p.m.

For Ell, a love for music – and the guitar in particular – was sparked early. She started with the proverbial piano lessons, but it was the magic of guitar that really won out.

Her dad also was a major influence in helping her hone her guitar skills. “Looking back now, I’m really glad I started off with a classical background – it gave me a really good base. But guitar was much more fun growing up,” she adds with a laugh. “So I started to play when I was eight, and it’s practically become another limb on my body.”

Born and raised in Calgary, Ell, 24, was also singing in her church youth group at 10, so getting up in front of people became that much more of a natural experience.

She was discovered at 13 by BTO and The Guess Who’s Randy Bachman. “Randy learned guitar from master jazz guitarist Lenny Breau, so I dove head-first into this world of blues, jazz and rock guitar – learning all these different solos, switching radio stations and trying to get an idea of where all those techniques come from.

“There aren’t a lot of girls who play electric lead guitar, and it can be a defining thing,” she says. “First and foremost, I want people to hear me and understand my voice as a country music recording artist.”

She eventually headed off to Nashville for two-week songwriting stints, juggling these creative treks with performing in Canada.

Ultimately, about three years ago, she settled in Nashville, and she credits the musically-rich oasis with fueling plenty of her creativity as well.

“I love living in Nashville – it keeps me on my toes everyday. And it keeps me striving to get better.”

Ell’s passion and study has indeed served her well, leading to several unique opportunities, including an opening slot with blues icon Buddy Guy.

“It’s the people who believe in you from the very beginning and champion you and see the vision. I have a long, long list of people I could thank that would go on for days. I can’t thank these people enough, because when you are starting out, you do need these people who are willing to take a leap of faith. I’ve been very fortunate.”

Last fall, she embarked upon one of her most exciting opportunities yet – an opening slot on The Band Perry’s ‘We Are Pioneers’ World Tour.

The tour has included some 50 dates throughout Europe and North America, and marked Ell’s first trek across several European countries.

As to her musicianship, not to mention her power as a singer, there is no doubt fans will continue to take note. Tonight’s show will be extra special as family from Calgary will be in the audience – including her dad who also marks his birthday today.

“I truly love what I do. I think to survive in this industry you have to love it, because you have to deal with the ups and downs and the wonders of life. But I love music – I’m so passionate about it and I know I couldn’t do anything else. Nothing tops that feeling of being able to stand onstage in front of thousands of people and have them listen to you, sing back to you and cheer. Nothing tops that feeling.”

Through it all, she’s been extraordinarily single-minded about the path she wants to take in life. “I’ve had the cords fail, the monitors shut down and mics die. I’ve seen all kinds of crowds – and no crowd at all. I feel ready as a singer and a musician. I have confidence as a performer.

“I’m comfortable in a conference room with six people or onstage opening for Keith Urban in front of thousands. It’s really not that different. Both are exciting and a little humbling,” she says. “Either way, I’m ready to go.”

For tickets to the Red Deer show visit www.ticketmaster.ca.