By: Jason Sheppard
One of Canada’s biggest country music performers returns to St. John’s to take part in The Celebration of Hope, with a spiritual and powerful message.
George Canyon is no stranger to music lovers in Newfoundland and Labrador. Canyon has performed at George Street shows, at Mile One and at the Burlington Festival.
“I spent a lot of summers in Newfoundland with mom and dad camping,” Canyon told The Herald. “I just like going back to visit, going down to St. John’s and George Street because I grew up with it.”
The Celebration of Hope
On November 4, Canyon will be back in St. John’s to add his talents to a show that means very much to him, The Celebration of Hope at Mile One Center, a multi-day evangelistic outreach and concert event in conjunction with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association of Canada.
For this event, It’s not just all about the music. It’s also about giving testimony through faith.
Canyon admitted that he doesn’t get the chance to perform these types of songs nearly enough and would like to do so more often. However, there’s not many agencies in Canada that book this type of program.
“I can’t just show up on someone’s doorstep and say ‘I’d like to lead you in worship,’” Canyon said with a laugh. “So when I was asked to be a part of the show in P.E.I., I was completely blown away, and then we had the event and it was such a success. It was so much fun to do.”
When organizers considered bringing the show to Newfoundland, that was when he admits he got excited and crossed his fingers that they would consider him to take part.
“When they asked me if I would be a part of it, of course I jumped at the opportunity,” Canyon said.
Canyon loves coming to Newfoundland from his home in Nova Scotia and has fond memories of each visit including one in particular.
“There was a place we played, in a theater that Elvis Presley played in once – I can’t remember what little town it was but there was a picture of him on the wall and I was just tickled pink about that because I was a big Elvis fan.”
Faith and Inspiration
It’s easy to understand why Canyon would admire the King, as gospel music is very much a shared love between the two performers.
“As a strong Christian man, any chance I get to go out and perform worship concerts, I’ll jump at the opportunity. Country to me has always been the music of the people as far as stories and family. For me when I write, a lot of my stuff has elements of faith in it. I just need to put that in it because that’s who I am,” he shared.
Canyon will often play a few of his own songs along with worship songs he grew up with, such as How Great Is Our God, Amazing Grace and How Great Thou Art, which is his all-time ultimate favourite.
When it comes to inspiration in songwriting, Canyon usually draws upon what matters most to him – his wife, son and daughter. Other times, people will tell him a story, or he’ll see something in the news which will also inspire him.
“It has to be something that moves me before I write about it. I’ve tried to write about things in the past that were kind of fluffy and they just don’t work. Songs like Betty’s Buns [was] about my mother-in-law because she made the best homemade buns in the world. These end up becoming hit singles so you have to be careful of that.”
‘He Loves Everybody’
When Canyon performs a worship concert, the one message he tries to convey to the audience is God’s love for all his children.
“It doesn’t matter who you are and it doesn’t matter if you believe in him or not because he believes in you,” confides Canyon. ”That’s the ultimate message I try to get across. There’s nothing my son or daughter could do that would make me turn my back on them and it’s the same thing with our Holy Father. Trust me, if God loves me, man, he loves everybody.”
The Celebration of Hope outreach and concert event taking place on November 2-4 at Mile One Center is a non-ticketed event with free admission.