George Canyon Biography
Review The Artist (15)
George Canyon doesn't make any excuses for himself. He doesn't make excuses when things go wrong or brag when they don't. He knows how it feels to work hard, to sacrifice without complaint and to feel a quiet responsibility toward those who have sacrificed on his behalf. He's comfortable with his faith, his family, and in his own skin.
In a word, he's got character -- a quality that's as important in country music as it is in politics.
America saw it in his rise to the finals in last year's Nashville Star. And the world will feel it throughout One Good Friend, the album that completes his journey into the spotlight.
It began in Nova Scotia, not far from the wild Atlantic coastline. Growing up, George saw forests and fields outside his bedroom window; a hint of ocean mist dampened the piney air. And everywhere, in the bars that drew men from the lumber mills and fishing boats, in family gatherings, in the rhythms of trains and the whistle of the wind, there was music.
Celtic roots run deep in this part of Canada, where Ashley MacIsaac and his cousin Natalie MacMaster first resined their bows. There's country too, going back to the great Hank Snow and his songs of restless travel. From these influences George came to believe that a song should take listeners to maybe a better place.
"I grew up listening to Charley Pride, Hank Williams and Elvis Presley," he says. "It was all just music to me; I didn't think in terms of genre. But folk, country, and Celtic music all seemed to suit my voice, which was fine because that's where you find the songs that tell stories -- and that's huge for me."
His parents built him a three-quarter-sized acoustic guitar and taught him the essential chords when he was five years old. By fifth grade he had made his debut at the school variety show, singing "The Rose" and "A Hard Day's Night." Music was already a big part of his life; he had his dreams about tooling down the road with a band in their tour bus. But another dream stirred him more deeply.
"I wanted to join the Air Force and learn how to fly," he remembers. "I built model aircraft and hung them everywhere in my room. I had pictures of planes all over the wall. And so, when I was twelve, I joined the Air Cadets."
In Canada the Cadets -- Air, Sea and Army -- offer a first step toward children of age who want a military career. "I was so proud to wear the uniform," George says. "To me, that was it. I remember polishing my boots for hours."
He might have gone from his first glider lessons all the way to the Air Force had fate not intervened. At age fourteen George was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes. At that time Canadian law prohibited diabetics from obtaining a pilot's license, so in one moment a future filled with needle injections replaced his ambitions to fly. Bitter news -- yet George dealt with it as he would deal with other challenges that lay ahead.
"Because both my parents worked in health care, and because my grandmother had diabetes, I knew what was going on. A nurse gave me my first injection, and from then on I did it myself. I wasn't depressed. I accepted what the Lord had given me; I knew there had to be reasons. I stopped the Air Cadets because there was no longer a purpose to it. And I decided to become a doctor so that I could help people with this disease."
To this day, as a spokesman for the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation in Canada, George stands up for those who battle against the ailment. "You cannot stereotype these people," he insists, "especially since there are airline pilots up there who will die from a heart attack before someone with diabetes. This disease should not be a barrier for anyone."
Accepted at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, as a pre-med student, George was soon distracted when a recruiter for an officer cadet training program told him that the rules had changed and diabetics were cleared to fly. Exhilarated, he plunged into the program, only to learn that he had been misinformed; the law hadn't changed after all. "I remember laughing out loud," he says. "I went through two weeks of having my hopes resurrected, only to be shoved back down again."
Characteristically, rather than whine about it, he simply walked away, went back to class -- and rekindled his passion for music. After auditioning for a minor chorus role in Camelot he was called back and given the lead role of King Arthur. The show ran for eleven nights; after one performance some guys from a country rock band made their way backstage and invited George to take a shot at becoming their lead singer. "Next thing you know I'm on the road. And I never looked back."
For nearly six years they kept a grueling schedule: six nights at some club in the city or out in the boondocks, then drive all day Sunday, in a van packed with so much gear that most of the band had to lay on top of their speakers. Days off were rare. It was hardly an easy routine, but it taught George the most important lesson of his life.
"I learned that I was addicted to music," he explains. "I learned that music would be my career, which was a surprise to my parents and even to me. In all honesty, I expected that I would do the responsible thing: I'd get a solid job, get married, raise a family … and I wanted that too. It's just that the creative side of me was suppressed until the Good Lord finally opened the floodgates."
He learned how to comport himself onstage too. Before each show he would watch a Garth Brooks tape he carried with him. "It always pumped me up because of his amazing showmanship," George recalls. "I'd feel like I was a part of his family, even though I was just watching him on a TV show. That never failed to inspire me -- and at the same time I identified a lot with George Strait because he had that same kind of stable, level confidence."
When the band broke up George briefly tried to return to a more "normal" life. He was hooked, however, and soon was doing shows again, this time under his own name. Married by this time, with two young children, he admits to being stretched between love for his family and his musical ambitions. For nine years he worked around the clock, sometimes holding down as many as three jobs, playing gigs at night, producing and engineering for other artists in his home studio, and working by day as a police officer.
"I put in a year of being an auxiliary constable," he says. "We're talking about nine hundred hours for no money whatsoever, and often being in harm's way, just to get the experience under my belt so I could apply for a position and have a career that could help support my music and put food on the table."
Eventually he was certified as a policeman, even as his backbreaking regimen of travel and performing started to pay off. He released an independent album, cut three videos, and even opened gigs for Brooks & Dunn and Loretta Lynn.
… and, in 2003, he was asked to audition for the upcoming season of Nashville Star. His near-victory led to an invitation from Tony Brown and Tim DuBois to showcase for a record deal at Universal South. "For years I'd spoken their names with reverence," he says. "I still do, in fact. I was tickled just to meet them, so I didn't really concern myself with how I sounded. I'd heard of acts playing for record executives and getting signed on the spot, but never had I imagined that would happen to me. It wasn't a dream of mine. It was beyond being a dream. But that's exactly what happened."
From that boardroom to the studio, from youthful hours spent at home in the deep woods, tuning into The Grand Ole Opry, to his debut at the Opry itself, from one ambition thwarted to another one come true, George Canyon has kept a steady course through life. He's still on the move, even toward the skies themselves; the day will come when he gets that license to fly.
Until then, it's his music that soars, throughout One Good Friend. Buckle up -- this ride is just beginning.
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Grorge is a gift from GOD. | Reviewer: carolyn eisler | 12/14/12
Every night! I lister to Grorge Canyon. His songs feed my soul.
In any given moment, I would give up my life to the LORD.
In his songs GEORGE is true to what he is:) and stands for up tall.
We should all be so blessed.
You're number one FAN Carol Eisler. GOD BESS.
Fir Mountain Show | Reviewer: Morrie Raes | 12/10/12
Awesome show. Class act all the way. Great voice ,great band, great opening act.I've seen a lot of the poeple you pay tribute to You are there with them. We would glad to to have you back .This time in the summer. P.s. try to work on the cel service.
A real blessing | Reviewer: Miriam Dreher | 10/14/12
I attended your concert at the Alliance Church in Airdrie, AB last evening. Your performance was awesome-the smile on your face as you were performing and were dressed so professional and it was more than obvious on how much you enjoy. Your testimony of your faith just added to you show. Saw you on the CTV Big Breakfast show during Stampede week and I admired you for speaking out about your faith. I too am an entertainer, have won several country gospel awards both Canadian and International and I realize how much your music means to you. God bless you for all you do and many blessings.
A long time fan. | Reviewer: Anonymous | 6/7/12
I have been a fan since befor Nashvile Star.In fact I followed him when he still went by Fred Lays.
I meet George a few times and can say He is a great man.I have all his recordings and,I Would strongly recomend that you go see his live show when he is in your area.Thanks Lenny
St. John's, NL | Reviewer: Donna | 4/24/12
Saw George Canyon and Terry Clarke in concert Saturday night past. It was fantastic. The way that he relates to the audience is amazing, he is just like one of us (his own words). Hope he comes back again, real soon, as I am sure that the people will return to see and hear him again.
One Good Friend | Reviewer: carolyn | 10/13/11
I hear that you were very well liked in Sault Ste Marie. Sorry that I missed you. You are a inspiration to the world. Your songs are real
stories, about love, and sorrow. Thanks George.
You make my day:) a little at a time.
Your fan:D Carolyn Eisler
art of my every day life | Reviewer: carolyn eisler | 6/6/11
I often listen to George Canyons songs,
every day. that is what I do. It makes me happy
and makes my day. his songs are much needed in my life. I have had maany hard days, but keep going.
your best fan Carolyn
good support music | Reviewer: carolyn eisler | 3/24/11
When ever I feel down, and sad:( I just put good old George Canyons music on. It feels like I have wings..to go on..a nother day. Thanks George
Carolyn Eisler Sault Ste. Marie Ontario
Keeper of the earth | Reviewer: carolyn Eisler | 2/8/11
Greorge does not only sings, but is a great role modle..for GODS work. Takes pride in his faith, and gives out messages to all humans on this Earth.
Thanks George..GOD BLESS:) and keep you! and your family in his loving arms.
What a true Canadian ! | Reviewer: Marie Berdan | 6/28/10
Just returned home from the Gold Medal Tribute here in Edmonton , Alta and can say that was the most True Canadian act that I have ever seen ,When he sings u can see the true emotion come out , and how much he stands behind our men & women in uniform , I cried , It takes a true artist to do what he did for his fans , and for Canada, Thank you George , You make me more proud to be Canadian,
Awasome person | Reviewer: Carlolyn Eisler | 6/23/10
I had the honor..to hear him sing. He was so wonderful with the people. George is also a very humble person. I felt right at home with him. Just a very simple person doing what he loves the best. He's the best.
GOD BLESS him and his family****
Your fan..Carolyn Eisler..Elliot LakeOntario.
George Canyon a true country gentleman ! | Reviewer: Marie | 6/20/10
I had the true pleasure of meeting George Canyon at a Edmonton Eskimos game when the awards were here ! I was the person who was given the job of greeting the country music stars as they entered the tailgate party ! I will never forget my thoughts that went through my mind when I saw him walking down the stairs ! What a true country singer should look like and when he spoke my heart melted ! He is one of the best country singers from Canada that I have ever heard ! His song to our Troops is the best ever! U make us proud George ! Thank you!!
Lindsay Country Jambree | Reviewer: Dave Barber | 8/6/09
George i was wondering if you would be interested on come on our show in july 16 to 19 2010 in Lindsay ont This year we had Terry Sumsion The Mercy Brothers and many more.Would you please get back me and let me no if you are booked or would like to atend .Thank your canadian fan and friend DAVE BARBER 705 357 3467 .
Concert in Baddeck | Reviewer: Fred Mac Aulay | 6/25/09
Both my Wife and I went to George's concert in Baddeck on june 19/2009. I am 53 years old and have been to a lot of concerts and have seen a lot of class acts. This concert was the best concert I have ever had the pleasure of attending and George you are a class act. I was very impressed with both the profesional aspects and the values which George stands for. I waited till after the concert and bought a cd and got him to sign it. I could not wait to tell him how impressed I was with him and his band along with his opening act
Best of luck George and I am proud That you are from Nova Scotia, Thank you George
Sweet Ass | Reviewer: Emilio Nosrehpcam | 8/26/05
I think George Canyons new C.D. One Good Friend is really great. Basically Sweet Ass. Who Would you be is a great song that i truly think is awesome. Listen to it. It rox
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