Victoria Banks has come a long way since her days and nights sleeping on a friend’s couch after moving to Nashville as a young singer/songwriter and waiting tables for a living. But hey, she’s paid her dues. One decade later and billed the hottest, “new” female Canadian country artist, Banks is not complaining. Her past life good, bad and ugly has been fodder for her successful songwriting career and made her a better performer and recording artist.
She plays CN Centre Sept. 3, opening for Johnny Reid.
The girl from Muskoka, Ontario began the first leg of her journey here when she packed up her dreams (along with a zoology degree from University of Toronto) and headed for Nashville.
“When I moved to Nashville 10 years ago, I soaked it up like a sponge. I wanted to immerse myself in the music and that’s what I did. Nashville draws so many creative spirits and you can’t help but feel it when you’re here. I wrote music and played music and kept food on the table. I was happy to do it.”
As with romantic poets, Banks found that hard times and hard feelings brought out the best in her creativity and her songs. In an interview from Nashville, Banks told the Free Press on Wednesday that fans are drawn to her honesty.
“I think what had the biggest influence the thing that had the most profound effect on me was getting my heart broken and going through a very painful divorce. It was a tough time for me. So I just poured all my emotion into my songwriting which was very therapeutic for me and people seemed to start relating to my songs more and more.”
Banks has been nominated in seven categories in the 2009 Canadian Country Music Awards (CCMA) including Rising Star, Record Producer of the Year, Songwriter of the Year and the coveted Female Artist of the Year. Her acclaimed self-produced debut album, When You Can Fly, is a contender for Album of the Year and her Top 20 single, The Wheel, earned her a nomination in Single of the Year category.
“I was really stunned,” said Banks. “The quality of artistry in all the categories is really high and it’s a huge honour to be nominated by my peers. I’ve put a lot of hard work and love into this record and the recognition from CCMA means a lot to me.” In addition to her musical recognition, Banks’ website www.victoriabanks.net has been nominated in the Website of the Year category.
For her upcoming local concert her first time in Prince George Banks wants fans to know it will be “just me and my guitar. That’s what I’m most comfortable doing. I like to communicate with the audience between songs and tell stories. So I’ll be doing some of that.” She says being asked to open for Reid (with whom she cowrote Dance With Me) was a surprise and “pretty great opportunity.”
The artist plans to tour across Canada during the month of September and, after that, who knows? “We’ll see what happens after that,” she said.
One thing for sure, she’ll be penning new songs for herself and others. “I’ll demo the songs, demos build themselves into albums the songs choose the record. Back home (in Nashville) I go into the office every day and write for other artists. That’s almost like going on a blind date. You meet the person, listen to their life story and try to write something that best describes who they are.”
Banks opens for Johnny Reid at CN Centre on Thursday, Sept. 3. Tickets to the concert are available at all Ticketmaster outlets or charge by phone 250-614-9100. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Show starts at 7:30 p.m.