Country music typically brings up memories of fiery love, tall grass and crazy parties during warm summer nights. Not exactly what comes to mind right away when you think of Vancouver. That never deterred local indie country singer Ray Gibson from chasing her dreams, however.
Growing up in Maple Ridge, Gibson first began to gain traction for her music about four years ago when she started posting cover videos of her favourite songs on Youtube. She soon caught the attention of country music star Carrie Underwood with a cover of her track, Good Girl, and continued to gain a strong following ever since.
Taking the opportunity in full stride, Gibson went on to build her fanbase using social media networks like Twitter and Instagram and has since been recognized for her talent across the country being chosen as Top 6 in the CCMA Discovery Program and Top 8 for the Boots and Hearts Emerging Artist Contest.
In October of this year, Gibson released a new self titled EP featuring her debut single, “In Your Kiss.” We recently had a chance to chat with the budding songstress about everything from her favourite Canadian country singers to what she listens to in her free time that isn’t country.
Canadians have a pretty good track record in the Country music industry. Who are some Canadian country singers that you look up to and/or enjoy listening to?
There are so many Canadian Country artists that I listen to and look up to as mentors. If I had to mention a handful, I would include Aaron Pritchett for giving me the opportunity and courage to perform, and for believing in me from the beginning, and Shania Twain for installing in me the desire to pursue a career in performing and entertaining. She was actually the first concert I ever attended back when I was eight and I remember I spending half the show watching the audience reactions. It was something I had never seen before, seeing people come together through music. I knew at that moment that I wanted to give people the same feeling Shania gave me.
I enjoy listening to many other Canadian country artists too; One More Girl is another favourite of mine. This past year, I had the chance to have Carly McKillip produce some songs for my latest EP. Kira Isabella, Dallas Smith, Chad Brownlee, Wes Mack, Brett Kissel – The list could go on and on for Canadian artists I enjoy listening to!
I read that you’ve been pursuing music since the 4th grade. How do you think your music and song writing has grown since then?
Well, [the] first songs [I ever wrote] when I was about eight years old were literally about my cat. Now I’m writing songs about guys cat’n around on their girls. Every writing session and every new experience helps me grow as a songwriter. My song writing changes every single day.
You spent a lot of time in Nashville working on your latest EP. Can you tell us about something memorable from your travels there?
I’d have to say the most memorable event I experienced in Nashville would have been riding along on Dustin Lynch’s tour bus back in December 2014. I was staying with my good friend Jimmy Robbins, who is one of the songwriters of my debut single “In Your Kiss,” in Nashville when he called me during a recording session I was in. Jimmy, a few other writers, Dustin Lynch, and Jerrod Nieman were all heading to a town near Chattanooga to play a charity event at a school theatre. During the two hour bus ride to the venue I got to get to know all these songwriters and artists that I really look up to. It was by far one of the best nights of my life. Dustin Lynch was incredibly nice and it was an amazing experience being able to hang out with someone who I’ve bought every album of.
In your opinion, why is Nashville so important to country music overall?
Nashville is the “mecca” of country music. When you walk into a studio or you are backstage where legends like Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash and Hank Williams once played, you get an overwhelming feeling of excitement and inspiration. You just want to keep hammering away at your dream to step up on the stage where they once stood and performed to thousands of fans singing right along with them.
Do you think country music has changed much in the last 10 years?
I think that the basis of country music has continued strong: strength, love, honour and having a good time with those you care about. I believe country has reached a cross roads where artists from other genres are now crossing over into the “country world” and are bringing their listeners with them.
What genres of music do you like to listen to on your own time that isn’t country?
I am all over the map when it comes to listening to other genres of music and other artists that are not country. Sleeping At Last, NEEDTOBREATHE, Amos Lee, John Legend, Jake Isaac, John Mayer, Jack Johnson; those are some of my favourites! There are even some odd times when I’ll blast some Ice Cube and break into a rap or two.