Tenille Townes: Canada’s Down-to-Earth Sweetheart Turned America’s Next Country Superstar

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Photo by Matthew Berinato
       

As seen in
Guitar Girl Magazine Issue 16 – Summer 2021
Acoustic Amplified!

Tenille Townes is a Canadian country queen on the rise. Townes has toured with major talents such as Miranda Lambert, Little Big Town, Dierks Bentley, and Alan Jackson. Townes will also be a part of Brothers Osborne’s We’re Not for Everyone Tour in the summer months of 2021.

Towne’s huge passions don’t stop at music. At 15, she started her concert fundraiser, Big Hearts for Big Kids, which benefits her hometown’s local youth shelter. Since its humble beginnings, the concert has raised over $2 million and even brought in over $89,000 in a virtual fundraiser from the legendary Ryman Auditorium last year.

Townes was the first Canadian female in Mediabase Canada to achieve two number one singles with her songs “Somebody’s Daughter” and “Jersey on the Wall (I’m Just Asking).” Her debut album, The Lemonade Stand (2020), added to Townes’ massive country scene success.

Townes is also a several-time recipient of many highly esteemed music awards, including the 54th Annual County Music Association Musical Event of the Year for her collaboration with country icon Miranda Lambert on “Fooled Around and Fell in Love,” which she also won at the 55th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards as well as New Female Artist of the Year.

Towne’s drive and love for country music have kept her going amidst the global COVID-19 pandemic, with the songstress penning 150 songs over the last year. She is looking forward to releasing new music and sharing it with her extensive, dedicated fanbase.

We’re so excited to hear that you will be going on tour with Brothers Osborne this summer. What are you most looking forward to about the tour?

My goodness, I’m so excited I can hardly stand it! I am the biggest fan of their music and an even bigger fan of who they are as human beings. I couldn’t have imagined a cooler tour to get to come back to than this. My band and I are so excited to all step up there and play again — seeing everybody’s faces out there feeling like a community! And I’m so excited to watch Brothers Osborne play every night!

How does it feel to be a two-time ACM Award winner, eight-time CCMA winner, and three-time JUNO Award Nominee?

It’s an incredible honor to celebrate those things. It feels very much like the community of music pulling up a chair at the table, and I’m grateful to take a seat beside people I respect and admire. The thing that means the most to me is that they represent people out there hearing these songs and stories, making them a part of their lives, and that’s pretty amazing to me.

We are Guitar Girl Magazine and love to hear about an artist’s guitars, so what is your favorite guitar that you own?

I love guitars, ha! And love all the ones that I play, but I’m really excited about a new one I’m actually working on that I can’t wait to bring out on tour this year!! It’s a Martin OM28, and I had the wood stained darker, so I could paint the symbols and lyrics of the new music in a lighter color this time. My dream is that every new collection of music I make will have a guitar as a time capsule to represent it, and I’m pretty excited to be working on the second one!

Being a female in the entertainment industry is hard, but it is especially hard as a woman in country music. What was it like being the first Canadian female in Mediabase Canada history to achieve two number-one singles?

It was so exciting to celebrate that and know those songs were played as much as they were on Canadian radio. I feel proud to be a part of the collective of female voices coming together out there to change history right now.

Tell us more about what your concert fundraiser, Big Hearts for Big Kids, means to you. It’s so inspiring, and we would love to hear about the impact it has had on you as an individual and as an artist.

Thank you for asking about Big Hearts for Big Kids. That concert fundraiser has really shown me the power of music and what can happen when a small group of people come together and believe in something. The event has been happening for the past 11 years, benefiting our local youth shelter, The Sunrise House, in my hometown, and it started as a little seed and grew into something beyond what I could have imagined. The night of our first show, the shelter had to close down due to lack of funding, and that night with ticket sales, live and silent auction items between the concert, I watched my community come together to raise $30,000. All these years later, we are over $2 million, and the shelter is running in an essential way for the youth who need it. It is a big part of my dream to see Big Hearts grow for kids who need support in all kinds of different communities and to illuminate the spirit of a group of people coming together.

We would love to know more about your songwriting process. What was the process behind writing your most successful songs, “Somebody’s Daughter” and “Jersey on the Wall (I’m Just Asking)”?

Songwriting, to me, is very much a spiritual experience. Any form of creativity to me is being a vessel. I love getting to talk about things in songs that are maybe harder to just have a conversation about. Music has a way of walking with us through some of our hardest memories or parts of being human, and the comfort and community it can bring is my favorite part about it.

“Somebody’s Daughter” was inspired by a young girl I saw standing on the side of the interstate holding onto a cardboard sign. My mom and I had a conversation in the car, wondering what her story could be, and that moment stuck with me. I got to write with two of my heroes, Barry Dean and Luke Laird, shortly after that drive and was so grateful for the way the song found us that day. Felt like it was in the room waiting for us.

“Jersey on the Wall” came from a group of people I met in Grand Manan, New Brunswick, a small town that had just been through a horrible car accident with five kids from their high school in the vehicle. One of them passed away, and I saw her jersey hanging in memory on the wall during a one of their high school graduations and thought about the questions I have for God as I was sitting among the most incredible group of people who had just been through something so terrible. Shortly after that trip, one of my best friends lost her little brother, and it put me in a place of spinning in more and more questions. Songwriting is my place to process how I feel, and I brought this story to my friends Gordie Sampson and Tina Parole to help me talk about it.

What do you want your listeners to take away from your music?

I hope my songs put a little bit of hope in people’s tanks. Reminding people that they are not alone in their emotions or experiences is a mission for me. I think as human beings, feeling seen and heard as not the only ones going through something gives us permission to show up and be ourselves. I think it’s powerful when we realize we are all so much more alike than we thought, and I hope people feel that sense of community when they are listening out there.

Can you tell us a little bit about what’s next for you as an artist?

I can’t wait to share some new songs I’m working on. I’ve been writing a ton of new music over this past year of being home, and I’m truly so excited to start this new adventure together. The new songs come from a vulnerable place for me. And gosh, I can’t wait to see everybody on the road soon!

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Gabbi Calvert is a writer, publicist, and artist from Findlay, Ohio who now resides in Nashville, TN. Gabbi is incredibly passionate about all things pop culture, but her forever love is music. Following her passion for entertainment and music, she graduated from Belmont University in April of 2021 with a B.S. in Creative and Entertainment Industries with a minor in music business. Her academic endeavors led her to find a home working in music public relations and she is now a senior publicist at Publicity Nation PR. Not only does Gabbi work and thrive in the music industry, she is also a musical artist herself. She began singing and playing gigs at the age of 12 in her hometown and has an extensive background in performance. Under her stage name Gabrielle Vaughn, she has released two singles. Gabbi is also a member of the all-female cross-genre supergroup The Highway Women. In her free time, Gabbi loves spending time with friends and family, attending drag shows, and bonding with her two guinea pigs Queenie and Peach, and her cat Mitzi.