By Jennifer Thurbide
It has been more than three decades since country music singer Michelle Wright headed out on her first tour which started in what she describes as a “sleazy bar” in southern Iowa.
“I was in a sleazy bar in Muscatine, Iowa when I turned 20 years old and I was like ‘yes this is the life – I get to play music’,” said the performer in an interview on Oct. 2. “I have been doing this now for many, many years and am fortunate to have started young and to be able to do it all these years.”
In a few weeks Wright will take the stage at the Red Lake District High School gym as part of the Wilderness Entertainment Series and she says she will be bringing her own music along with that of her influences in what is being called the “Songs of the Halls” tour.
“For us this is really an exciting and different concept because I am able to celebrate my hall of fame induction which I have not done yet with the fans. I am the youngest in Canadian history.”
The Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame welcomed Wright last September and the artist says this tour has been designed to pay tribute to those who have also received the honour and who have influenced her early in her career.
“We are still a very contemporary, progressive country performing/touring act so I will be bringing my music as well as other artists that have influenced me from Stevie Wonder to Aretha Franklin to Anne Murray and U2 – this real evening of my hits to those great songs of days gone by.”
For the artist this was a difficult concept at first, having spent years making her mark on both the Canadian and American country music scene with songs like “Take it like a man”, “He would be sixteen” and “Guitar Talk”, however she says the project has brought her back to her first love – music.
“Sometimes you are out there doing your own thing, dealing with the pressures of showbiz and all the demands and you start to get disconnected a little bit from music. This really connected me again which is what I love.”
Providing an example of the tours playlist, Wright notes one of the songs she is truly excited to be performing is “Natural Woman” written by Carole King and performed by Aretha Franklin in 1967.
“There was this album that came out when I was 15 by Carole King called the Tapestry album and she was a writer before she recorded this record – that would have been 1971 when this record came out. Years earlier, Aretha had cut one of her songs called Natural Woman and it is just extraordinary and it stands the test of time. Just to put my headphones on it inspires me and makes me feel so happy that I get to stand on stage and sing that song. I love it and I love it more because I am less concerned about the fight to make it and more concerned about making great music, giving great performances and making sure the audience is happy.”
The Songs of the Halls tour started last week in Campbell River, British Columbia and will take Wright and her band across Western Canada and Ontario with 30 concert dates to end in Kingston mid-November. District residents have the opportunity to see Wright on Nov. 3 and Wilderness Entertainment Series reps note there are still tickets available for the performance.