INTERVIEW: George Canyon

Straight from the bio and description of George on his website; as I could not say it much better. You can go ahead and just dance to the music of George Canyon, if that's what you want. He's a country neo-traditionalist par excellence, producing music situated somewhere between the bright and studio-tooled Nashville ideal and something a little older, with a voice that can soar with emotion or linger in a heavy bottom-end that feels like a kick in the chest from a faith healer. It's instant.
When you see the man, with piercing eyes that hang above his square jaw, the star appeal becomes even more obvious, and you remember all those achievements – the string of hits, a shelf-full of Juno’s and Canadian Country Music Awards, not to mention his rocket-ride to American fame on Nashville Star 2 in 2004, and the subsequent blockbuster albums One Good Friend, and Somebody Wrote Love.
George and I spent some time visiting while he was in town for the Global Artist Showcase during CMA Music Festival and I have to say, the above description fit him word for word.

Bev: George I think the first I became aware of your music was on Nashville Star, how many years has it been?

George: I think this is coming up on 5 years.

Bev: Tell me a little bit about what’s evolved between now and then and what you have been doing?

George: You know I’ve been so blessed. I’ve been everywhere, I’ve been all over the world; Vietnam, Cambodia, Ireland, Scotland, France, Germany with our troops and it has been an amazing ride. I’ve been on the Opry multiple times and that’s got to be the coolest thing for me. As a kid I always wanted to be on the Opry and to have little Jimmy Dickens tell me dirty jokes before I go on stage is the greatest thing ever. Being back in Nashville is great, but I’m a little torn right now because I’ve been away for almost two years; I’ve been all over the rest of the world and to come back now it’s interesting. I’ve got butterflies, but at the same time I feel comfortable.

Bev: Did a lot of those doors that opened up for you to travel all over open because of Nashville Star?

George: I would say a lot had to do with that, I’ve been in the business since 1990. I’ve been building the basement, if you will, never quite finishing the walls and Nashville Star finished the walls and stuck a roof on it and it’s been because of that it really allowed me to be at the supper table of most people in both Canada and the United States. We are so blessed and we hope doesn’t end.

Bev: Is this the first time you performed with this type of showcase, the Global Showcase?

George: I think it is. My management said, “Hey the CMA’s wants you to do a showcase and come down and play” I said, “Sure I haven’t been down in a while.” We’ve been touring up in Canada for a couple of months. The schedule worked out to have this one day open to squeak in. We would have liked to come down earlier and stay longer, but we flew in this afternoon and we fly out tomorrow morning first thing, but I would never say no to this kind of opportunity to come down and play again. I love being in Nashville; a lot of my friends are coming out to the show who I haven’t seen in almost two years. So that’s pretty cool.

Bev: What does this kind of showcase mean to you?

George: Oh, it’s great. The country music talent and country music itself has really opened up more than it was twenty, twenty-five years ago. Now it’s encompassing a lot more style within the genre from what I’ve just heard at sound check, it blew me away. It’s very unique to listen to artists that are from the U.K, hear their accents and to hear them sing. I still get a big kick out of that because to hear them sing that accent goes away. I guess mine does too!

Bev: So what are you going to try and do the short time that you are here? Are you going to try and squeeze anything in?

George: You know I’ve been in meetings this afternoon and then I get to do this show tonight and I’m on a plane first thing in the morning. I don’t get to squeeze anything else in. I would have liked to maybe get some time to just visit with some friends and stuff, but we’ll come back. Hopefully come back sooner than another two years. We’ve just been too busy to get back down here so we got to make time.

Bev: What’s the one piece of advice that you’ve been given that you would pass on to someone else who wants to get into this?

George: Well I had a lot of dreams when I was a kid that were dashed when I became a type one diabetic and the one thing I didn’t do was give up or listen to anybody who told me I couldn’t do something. One thing I always wanted to do was to be a pilot and to be in the Air Force. A year ago I got my pilot’s license and they made me an honoree Colonel in the Canadian Air Force. It was very cool and I get to be a part of that elite organization a very small part, but uniformed and everything. It means a lot. So I would say never give up, never listen to anybody that tells you can’t do something.

Bev: Before you go on stage do you have any tradition that you do? Some people say prayers, some chant? What do you do?

George: My boys in my band and I always pray before we go out on stage and if there is anybody we need to pray for during that time, we throw that in there too. What’s funny is when we first started I had to find them to do it, but now they come find me and it’s a great feeling and it’s just a great camaraderie we have and that’s the most important thing we do before we go on stage.

Bev: Thanks so much George, I wish we had more time to talk, but good luck tonight and come back to Nashville soon.

George: Thank you too it has been a pleasure and I look forward to visiting with you again as well.

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