In our latest trek through The Herald archives, we spotlight country music superstar Johnny Reid before a spring 2016 Newfoundland tour.
Johnny Reid is no stranger to the country music community of Newfoundland and Labrador. The Scottish Canadian has ventured to our rocky shores a time or two during his lengthy run atop this nation’s country music charts, most recently headlining the sold out Mussel Bed Soiree in Lewisporte in August.
Now the dapper Darlin is bringing his What Love is All About tour to Newfoundland, with a pair of stops in St. John’s and Corner Brook this April. The humble and genuine singer-songwriter checked in from his Nashville home ahead of the tour kickoff in Vancouver.
“We’re really looking forward to coming out,” Reid shared. “We’re going to be going across the country. We’ve been in rehearsals here for the past three weeks. We start at Vancouver and we’ll be making our way to Newfoundland.”
What Love is All About is the latest in a string of platinum selling albums here in his adopted nation. The magnitude of being one of Canada’s highest charting artists is not lost on Reid, who realizes that in such turbulent financial times, it is a privilege and not a right, to count your fans in bulk.
“It’s amazing,” he shared of his albums’ successes. “It’s never taken lightly for me mate, especially these days where we’re living on a single driven environment musically speaking. For all of these people out there, I know how hard it is to make a dollar. I know what a dollar’s worth, and the fact that all these people are out there spending their hard earned money and picking up one of my cds means the world to me. I hope that they’re getting as much enjoyment out of it as I had making it.”
Deep Seeded Roots
Reid equally places the same gratitude upon his Canadian fan base, the country and music climate that first propelled him to national and then international fame. His deep seeded roots here have never been misplaced.
“I feel very humbled and fortunate to have found a place … for many years I was just singing and singing and trying to find a platform. Country music, CMT especially, they gave me a platform. I realized that there are a load of people out there who felt the same as me, about life, love and laughter and all of the things that matter to us. I think I’ve been able to connect with a very large group of hardworking people, who look at life the same way that I look at it. I think that’s been the secret.”
Reid is anything but inattentive. He recalled minute details of his last interview with The Herald, with the name of this writer and the names of pubs and venues included in his Rolodex type memory. That could be a side-effect of a deep fondness for Newfoundland and Labrador, which he affectionately recounted in detail.
“I have to tell ya, when I get a phone-call from an agent and they say ‘Hey Johnny, we’ve got an opportunity to get to Newfoundland’, I take the opportunity … I don’t know what it is, I just have a real fondness for it. I love the people, I love the spirit, I love the working class roots. I just feel very much at home there.
“The very first guy I ever met when I came to Canada was a fellow from Newfoundland living in Brampton, Ontario. I was a young 15 just about to turn 16-year-old boy who had just come off the boat from Scotland. I didn’t know anything, and he and another guy befriended me. I’ll never ever forget that friendship that they offered me in that time of my life,” he shared, emotion audible through his thick Scottish accent. “For that reason, as long as I’m wanted in Newfoundland I will always bring my shows and my tours and my voice and talent that I’ve been given, I will always bring that to share with the people of Newfoundland.”
Under His Wing
Reid is often probed about what it takes to become a country music star. He counts tour-mate Aaron Goodvin among his pupils in that regard. His response to those questions, is fairly simple.
“For me, I get asked a lot, how did I become a singer? And it all starts with the song. You just need to sing, any opportunity you get you need to sing,” he shared. “ There’s an old saying that iron sharpens iron, so you want to be around people that bring out the best in you. You want to surround yourself with good people and good things will happen. I wouldn’t make any big rash decisions if I was a young artist who wanted to be a country singer. Go down to Nashville and spend a week or two, go around and get your feet wet a wee bit, and try to meet as many people as you can. Go back take what you’ve learned and work on it. You’ll realize really quickly that to be successful in country music you don’t need to move to Nashville. To be a successful singer you just have to connect with people. Singers are storytellers. You have to connect to an audience, and not be scared to tell the truth.
“You have to find out where your destination is. What is success? When I first started, my message and what I wanted to do and it hasn’t changed, was to take a God-given talent and share with as many people as is humanly possible. If I can find a way to take care of myself and my family, then I’ve found success. And that’s never changed mate, that’s never changed for me. I think that’s really important for a young singer and artist to know what they want. If you get into this business for jets and airplanes and billboards and buses, that’s the wrong reason. You shouldn’t get into this business for that, you should get into it because you want to share a God-given ability.”
Wrapping up touring in Newfoundland, Reid is excited to give fans a polished and intimate performance. Classic Johnny Reid style, as advertised.
“It’s going to be a great show. This tour is full of moments and it’s going to have a lot of great moments and definitely something that I’m excited to share with the people of Newfoundland.”