Sharing the joy — and music
An interview with Michelle Wright is always a delight.
She’s as likely to start singing as she is to give you one of her completely down-home, unpretensious answer to a question.
For example, as she listed some of the singers she’ll be featuring in the Songs From the Halls tour that brings her to Kamloops on Saturday, Oct. 20, she mentioned Stevie Wonder.
“Which song are you doing from him?” Wright was asked and she broke into her own version of the lead-in — including the opening musical chords — of Signed, Sealed, Delivered.
Also on the list is Aretha Franklin and, of course, Wright has chosen Natural Woman for her set list.
“Well, first of all, I picked it because it was written by Carole King,” the Canadian country star said.
As a teenager, she spent hour after hour listening to King’s album Tapestry, an influence in her musical development she said was huge.
As for Franklin’s rendition of the song, “I listened to the 1967 version,” Wright said, “and it’s flawless.
“It should never be touched. Singing it
just makes me glad to be alive.”
Wright has included two songs by Bonnie Raitt because she couldn’t decide between I Can’t Make You Love Me and Nick of Time.
“It was so hard, really,” she said.
“I chose these songs because, well, listen to the lyrics.
“‘Turn down the lights, turn down the bed. Turn down these voices inside my head’,” she recited.
“‘Lay down with me, tell me no lies. Just hold me close, don’t patronize.’
“Patronize. She found a way to use that word in a song.
Phoning from the back of a bus that had left Nashville, the place the Ontario farm girl now calls home, Wright said she and her band are still working on songs that might make it into the show.
“I’m gonna learn an Eagles song, Heartache Tonight,” she said, “and it might be one we do.
“The whole thing is an evolving thing.”
Al Green, Merle Haggard, Anne Murray, Joni Mitchell and the Vaughn Brothers (Jimmie and Stevie Ray) are also on the set list.
The tour, a year in planning, developing, booking and rehearsing, is Wright’s gift to her fans, she said, as much as it is a celebration of her 2011 induction into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame, its youngest inductee ever even though she’s been in the business for more than 30 years, 10 of them playing bars back in Southern Ontario while she went to college, studying to work with disabled people.
In an interview last year with KTW, Wright said of those early years she was raised by parents who were country singers in a band in her hometown, “and the Moose Lodge and band practice, always music and I had this crazy idea that maybe I could pay my rent and make music while I went to school.”
One day, after a bar gig, “I called my mom and said, ‘I think I know what I’m gonna do.’
“That was between my first and second years at college, but I set my sights on this.”
Riding through Montana, Wright said she’s excited to be back on the road.
“We left Nashville 36 hours ago and we’re just gonna deadhead out there and, on Oct. 13, away we go.”
The tour opens in Campbell River that day and continues to Nov. 21, when it wraps up in Kingston.
SONGS FROM THE HALLS
When: Saturday Oct. 20, 7 p.m., an all-ages show.
Where: Kamloops Convention Centre, 1050 Rogers Way.
Tickets: $40 at the Kamloops Live Box Office, 1025 Lorne St., 250-374-5483,
kamloopslive.ca, or at Ora restaurant at the venue.