Singer George Canyon has been described as a ‘country neo-traditionalist par excellence.’
The married father of two will be performing at New Life Fellowship Church in Red Deer on Sept. 7 in a fundraiser benefitting Fountain Of Life Ministries which is raising funds for work in Africa, specifically in Nigeria, building homes for widows and orphans.
Part of Canyon’s current ‘Believe Tour’, the concert will feature some of his gospel music and stories of faith. It begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25 and available at New Life or online at www.actmusicagency.com/events.
Canyon, born and raised in Nova Scotia, picked up the guitar and sang at a very early age. It was also in his community church where he honed his talents, learning hymns and stories that would inspire both his life and music.
“Mom and dad took me to church every Sunday at Holy Name Parish in Westville and I remember playing and singing on many different occasions during the service,” he says. His passion for faith and Christian music indeed laid the foundation early on for what was to come – a successful country music career.
He essentially catapulted onto the country scene in 2004 on Nashville Star – a competition similar to the American Idol format. He has since sold more than 300,000 albums – achieving two certified gold records as well as numerous Canadian Country Music Awards, Juno Awards and East Coast Music Awards.
These days, his devotion to Christian music has taken him full circle – he released his first worship CD Believe this past March. “About three years ago God put it on my heart that it was time,” he says of recording Believe. I always wanted to record a worship record but just didn’t feel the time was right. I guess I was waiting.
“Believe is an acoustic record that I felt I needed to record and I am excited to record a second worship record soon. The songs kind of just presented themselves in a way for the record – songs that touched me and songs that I love to sing.”
The country music style has always seemed the ideal genre for Canyon to express himself as well. “Country music is the storytelling genre, in my opinion. I love telling stories and sharing my faith and testimony.”
Canyon is also a spokesperson for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). Diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at 14, Canyon, a young air cadet at the time, was told he would have to forgo his ambitions to serve as a pilot in the Canadian Air Force.
Years later he would learn to manage his disease through diet, lifestyle and the use of insulin pump technology. In 2009, Canyon passed a series of medical tests and as a result of this was able to obtain his pilot’s license.
In early 2008 he also was recognized for all his philanthropic work in support of the Canadian troops and was appointed Honorary Colonel for the Canadian Air Force at 14 Wing Greenwood in Nova Scotia.
Later that year, he took his story and his own plane across Canada and organized talks and concerts to inspire youngsters with Type 1 diabetes with his message, a project he named ‘The Sky’s Not The Limit’.
He urged them to take ownership of their disease, pursue their dreams and achieve their goals.
“Being a kid is hard enough without having a disease that limits your choices. If I can tell my story and change a life or two, that’s the kind of imprint I want to leave.”
In the fall of 2010, Canyon performed and spoke to more than 20,000 people at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles at a JDRF fundraising event. His single I Believe in Angels was adopted as a theme song by the JDRF in the U.S.
Meanwhile, Canyon regularly tours Europe, the U.S. and engages his fans the old fashioned way – by playing more than 100 shows a year in his home country.
The past few years have indeed been busy ones – in 2008 Canyon and pop/rock icon Richard Marx signed on to produce Canyon’s What I Do album which yielded seven hit singles including Just Like You, the album’s first single, which was written for Canyon’s son, Kale.
Marx and Canyon teamed up again to write and record songs for the 2011 disc Better Be Home Soon. In late 2012, Canyon released the Classics II album. Ultimately, Canyon sings not just about things that are bigger than him but also about everyday experiences.
“My passion comes from my faith and my family. I am so blessed to get to live this life. It’s not hard to have passion for music that worships my Lord and Saviour and tells of the love of my family.”
It’s that sense of authenticity that so strongly connects him and his audiences.
“You look at a lot of things in life, and you wonder gosh, I wonder what it’s like on the other side of that fence, and you imagine things and you dream things up,” he says. “But the other side of the fence is like the side you’re on.”