On the heels of his latest CD release I Got This, country singer George Canyon makes a City stop Feb. 19th at Cowboys.
The project marks the 11th full-length release for Canyon in a career that spans more than two decades and boasts several gold-certified records including his debut Classics and the Richard Marx-produced Better Be Home Soon.
Canyon, born and raised in Nova Scotia, picked up the guitar and sang at a very early age. It was also in his local church where he honed his musical talents, learning hymns and stories that would inspire both his life and music.
“There was always music around me at home,” he recalls of his early days. “The uncles, aunts, cousins, grandparents – everybody just had a certain musical element to them. And growing up in the Maritimes, it was just the thing to do. There was always that very relaxed, comfortable, musical setting.”
He hit the road in his late teens, effectively launching his musical journey. And later on, he catapulted onto the country scene in 2004 on Nashville Star – a competition similar to the American Idol format.
As for I’ve Got This, Canyon said it had been awhile since he had focused so squarely on a musical project of his own.
“We took over two years and just really dug into writing and recording music and seeing what was working and what wasn’t,” he explains of the disc’s production. “I had fun – and that’s what I wanted to get back to – the reason that I make music – to enjoy it,” he added. “That’s really what the last two years have been about and that’s what this record has been all about to me.”
It’s also been a season of doing a bit of reminiscing, he said, pointing out that he’s been in the industry for 26 years now.
“I think a little bit of that might have rubbed off with this record, which I’m happy with,” he said. “I was born in 1970, so I grew up with every kind of music you can imagine. The 80s was really influential. I still listen to it constantly.
“I know in the process of writing for this record, there are a couple of songs that are full-out 80s songs. They’re not on this record but hang on – there’s going to be another record following shortly behind this one,” he added with a laugh. “We’re not stopping!
“So we’re pretty excited about what the next few years are going to hold musically for me, because we aren’t going to stop – we’ll just keep given’ er.”
As to production duties on I Got This, those went to singer Johnny Reid and Canyon came onboard as co-producer as well.
“Jeff Johnson co-produced with Johnny for the other six tunes as well.”
Reid and Canyon have been friends for years and have written a few songs together, but had never collaborated in a production capacity before this project.
“We have such a laugh when we are together,” said Canyon. “We had such fun – in fact, we were in tears from laughing most of the time. Not only did we co-produce, we did a bunch of writing for it too so we had a blast right from the get-go. Johnny is so musical – in my opinion, he is a savant. He’s probably one of the best singers I’ve ever gotten to listen to live. He’s got everything.
“It’s also so much fun co-producing. I can sit in a studio and produce, but I like co-producing because you can try out different things, laugh and have a good visit,” he said.
Canyon is also a spokesperson for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). Diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at 14, Canyon, a young air cadet at the time, was told he would have to forgo his ambitions to serve as a pilot in the Canadian Air Force.
Years later he would learn to manage his disease through diet, lifestyle and the use of insulin pump technology. In 2009, Canyon passed a series of medical tests and as a result of this was able to obtain his pilot’s license.
In early 2008 he also was recognized for all his philanthropic work in support of the Canadian troops and was appointed Honourary Colonel for the Canadian Air Force at 14 Wing Greenwood in Nova Scotia.
Later that year, he took his personal story and his own plane across Canada and organized talks and concerts to inspire youngsters with Type 1 diabetes with his inspiring message, a project he named ‘The Sky’s Not The Limit’.
As mentioned, the past few years have indeed been busy ones – in 2008 Canyon and pop/rock icon Richard Marx signed on to produce Canyon’s What I Do album which yielded seven hit singles including Just Like You, the album’s first single, which was written for Canyon’s son, Kale.
Marx and Canyon also teamed up again to write and record songs for the 2011 disc Better Be Home Soon.
Meanwhile, Canyon was recently inducted into the Nova Scotia Country Music Hall of Fame.
“It’s still a bit of a shocker – it’s cool. I was so honoured. But there was a part of me that said, I don’t deserve this. I’m only 45 – there are all these wonderful artists and musicians there up in their older years, and they’ve played a lifetime of music in our industry. It was very humbling, I can tell you that.”