CHUCK KUEPFER, Staff Reporter
It's full steam ahead for Wendy Lynn Snider.
The country and western singer has two albums under her belt and a third one in the works since making a concerted effort to establish a music career a few years ago.
Snider will bring her music, a mix of traditional and new country, and country gospel, to Maryhill's Commercial Tavern on Sunday, Jan. 27.
Born into a musical family from the Temagami First Nations in Kirkland Lake, Snider (nee Leduc) grew up listening to Christian and classic country music ? Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard and the like. She has performed with her four siblings throughout Ontario over the years, but her music career took a back seat while starting a family and raising two children. It wasn't until in the aftermath of a divorce that Snider began to revaluate her life and decided to focus on her musical aspirations at the urging of her husband, Curtt.
"He had heard me sing about five years ago and said how come you're not doing this," recalls Snider. "He started taking me out to open mics about three-and-a-half years ago. From there on, we've just been going to town."
She now keeps busy performing with her own band, which won the Niagara Music Awards country band of the year in 2012, as well as with the Toasted Western Swing Band, Tribute to Nashville Stars Band, a Jimmy Buffet tribute band, and other duos and trios. In her own shows, she mixes tributes to four decades of country music with her own originals ? and the feedback for her music has been positive.
"About a year-and-a-half after we started doing the open mics we took a trip down to Nashville, because I had written a few songs as well, and recorded them," said Snider. "We didn't know anything about the music business at that time. We just hopped in the truck, drove down and decided let's just go do this ? and we did. We had a great time down there and we learned a lot."
Her second CD, released last November, was produced by industry veteran Thomas Wade, a seven-time Canadian Country Music Association (CCMA) winner and three-time Juno nominee. The album is a mix of country music, both new and old, and includes three songs written by Wendy and Curtt. It also features the talents of a number of CCMA award-winning musicians, including Shane Gusé, Doug Johnson and Wade.
"We're getting some positive response down in the states in the Bible Belt because three or four songs you can classify as gospel or feel-good type songs," said Snider.
A single from the album, That's What It's All About, has received airplay in Europe and was awarded the AMG Broadcast Radio 2012 most requested song award by the Artist Music Guild in Atlanta, GA.
"We're getting some really good feedback," said Snider. "It's certainly been very exciting with all the things that are happening for us."
The new-found exposure is also a long way from kitchen parties and family gatherings, which had previously comprised the extent of her musical expression.
"I never thought I'd be doing this kind of thing," Snider admits. "It has kind of always been one of those things you dream about. A lot of people tell me that I have a voice like Patsy Cline. I do enjoy doing a lot of her songs. It's just comfortable. It's what I do, and it just seems to come very naturally."
Performing runs in the family. Her father entertained at local pubs singing Johnny Cash songs and her mother continues to sing and play organ at church. She also has brother who is a performer.
"Seeing what he was doing, it was exciting," said Snider. "You always dream about it, but you never expect that it's going to happen. My husband of five years now said, you know what? People have to hear you sing. You shouldn't be sitting around doing nothing with this. It was his encouragement, and he's still the driving force behind all of this. He's the one that gets on the phone, gets on the computer and just keeps searching for places to play."
Places such as Maryhill, where she'll entertain with her band that includes Steve Fortin (lead guitar/vocals), Peter Sisk (bass/vocals), and substitute drummer Steven Kramp, who is filling in for Peter Sisk.
"We just keep it all in perspective, keep it all real," said Snider. "And certainly have a heck of time. It's lots of fun meeting a lot of great people."
Tickets to the January 27th show are $10 and available. The show runs from 3-6 p.m.