“We caught up with Tenille – 17 years old, from Grande Prairie Alberta – after this year’s Canadian Country Music Awards in Hamilton to talk about her music career and what it feels like to be nominated for Female Artist of the Year”
How and when did you know you wanted to start your career as a musician?
Music has always been a huge part of my life. I grew up listening to all different genres, and singing was just something I was completely drawn into and inspired by, and took a love for, at a really young age! I think I’ve always known I wanted to pursue it, regardless of a career or not, and I’m so grateful it has turned out that way… my love for it has just grown stronger as I discover more aspects of it, like playing instruments, and writing my own songs!
Becoming a singer was your dream, but how did you know it was about country music?
I think that music has no limitations from the word “genre”; I love listening to all good music regardless of what it’s called, but Country music has always caught my attention the most, because it feels REAL. I find it extremely relatable and full of emotion, drawing in people of all ages who feel captivated by the stories told. I love the traditional and simple sound of the acoustic guitar, the beautiful steel and the incredible fiddle. It sounds like home for me, and I love sharing that style of music.
What message do you wish to communicate with your music?
My ultimate goal is to make a difference in this world through my love for music. I dream of my music reaching millions of pairs of ears and inspiring tons of hearts to come together. I’d like them to hear REAL stories of REAL experiences and feel connected, perhaps because they have been through something similar. I want to spread the message of being true to a person’s REAL self, and not being afraid of taking chances. I’d love for my songs to inspire young girls my age that fairytales really can come true, and that everything happens for a reason. And when the ride to Prince Charming gets a little bumpy, I’d love for them to turn on one of my songs to help them get through it. I’d love my songs to spread messages of hope, smiles, and inspiration to help one another in this world.
What has been the greatest experience you have had so far?
I’ve been so fortunate to experience so many amazing opportunities on my musical journey. I’d have to say that watching my community come together for a concert fundraiser I started, called “Big Hearts For Big Kids”, has been my favorite. The benefits from the evening go straight to the Sunrise House, the local youth shelter that helps kids of my age in my own community. For the past two years, I’ve gone door to door for sponsorship, called on my songwriting friends, and put together two consecutive years of the show, raising over $90,000. I wish I could find a way to bottle the energy that was in that banquet hall. It’s been so overwhelming seeing everyone celebrate music to make a difference. The Sunrise House actually had to close its doors due to lack of funding before Big Hearts For Big Kids, and this event has helped open the doors to service youth in need of a safe place to go. It has been an honor being a part of this event.
Who are your favorite musicians?
I have millions!! Each for different reasons! I admire Shania Twain for her originality and Canadian success, Keith Urban for his incredible guitar playing and stage energy, Martina McBride for her power vocals and strong messages, and Carolyn Dawn Johnson for her amazing songwriting abilities.
How do you maintain your singing voice?
By practicing and constantly working on it! Not over working, but consistently developing techniques! Just like an athlete has to warm up and stretch before big events, I always warm up my vocal chords before I sing to keep them healthy! And the vocal chords are regular muscles that work best with healthy food and good rest!
What do you like most about this profession?
I like the opportunity to meet tons of people who are all connected to a passion for music. I love the excitement that grows out of sharing my music with people interested in hearing it! I love the places it takes me, the people I meet, and I love that I am able to do what I love, not only as a hobby, but also as a lifestyle.
What was your favorite city you traveled to work to?
I would have to say that Nashville has been one of the most inspiring cities; everywhere you turn, people who have that passion for music surround you. I absolutely love travelling there to write. I feel so honored to have worked with a ton of amazing writers, and I love remembering how the songs were created in music city! Usually, I really don’t get to see a lot of the places I travel to, as I spend quick trips in the event locations! This summer, I did get to travel to Little Current, Ontario, where the music festival I participated in was right on the water, on the beautiful Manitoulin Islands. It was incredible and it really reminded me of home!
What has motivated your career?
My love for it. I honestly can’t see myself doing anything else, and that desire to continue to explore music is my greatest motivator.
Do you listen to recordings of your work?
To a certain extent, yes! I think generally, it can be hard to listen to yourself, as we tend to be our worst critic. After I’ve finished writing a new song, I always like to listen to it a million times! If I can stand listening to it, that’s usually a good thing! And if something bothers me, then I like to go back in to edit it and take it apart! When I recorded the album, I definitely listened hard to the tracks, over and over, to listen for anything I wanted changed, to make sure they were exactly how I wanted them to sound. And, I will admit that it has been pretty cool when I hear my songs come on the radio! It takes me by surprise every time, and I’m so excited they are spinning it! I definitely listen to it then! Haha!
How do you balance your artist career with your high school student life?
Of course it can be challenging at times to juggle, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love school. I love my classes, friends, and teachers. I love the entire energy of high school and I am so grateful that my entire school is really supportive of my music! They help me work ahead and catch up and forgive me for my terrible attendance record! Haha! I’ve got one year left of balancing to do, and it’s going really well so far!
What do you enjoy doing when you are not working?
I really don’t consider my music as work! I love to write in my spare time! It’s easy to get caught up in all the little things of the business, and when it comes down to it, I’d love hours and hours to song write! I also love to read fantasies and watch movies! I actually find a lot of inspirations from songs out of them!
What does “REAL” mean to you?
Life is REAL. Music is REAL. Love is REAL. Being true to your passion, heart and soul is living the REAL deal. REAL means being who you are and laying your emotions on the line without being afraid of the outcome. Being REAL is living everyday like it’s your last; laughing and loving the ride wherever fate takes you. The people who love you keep you REAL, and through them, you learn and grow. It’s amazing to inspire and make REAL differences by doing what you love. Enjoy the REAL thrill of hope that simple moments give you, smile when you think of the memories made while you chase your dreams, and always stay REAL.
How does it feel to be the youngest artist to be nominated for CCMA (Canadian Country Music Association) Female Artist of the year?
I feel so incredibly honored. To have been on that list of top 5 females, next to ladies that I’ve grown up being inspired by, was such a huge moment for me. My fellow nominees are such amazing Canadian performers, entertainers, and writers, so to be recognized by my peers in the industry in that category was really overwhelming for me. I’ve been dreaming about Female Artist of the Year since I started watching them as a little girl; I had no idea how soon that dream would come true.
What are your goals in the next 5 years as a musician?
I want to keep creating music that others can relate to! I’d like to write over 300 songs in the next 5 years, I’d like to release more albums with those songs, and I’d LOVE to travel the world singing my stories, inspiring a REAL positive difference wherever this amazing ride takes me.
What would you ask yourself that we haven’t asked you in this interview?
A fun fact!! I always wear smiley faces on my toes! I paint them yellow and draw on eyes, and a smile on the big toe! Even if you are feeling down, and your chin has fallen, if you look and see your toes smiling at you, you know that it’s all good! It’s an awesome conversation topic, and so many people ask me about them, on stage, in elevators, while walking! Haha!
Thank you so much for this awesome opportunity- it’s been awesome writing to you! I truly appreciate your support!
KEEP IT REAL.