Entertainment Music

HERE'S JOHNNY! Reid spills on genres, fans and art

Singer Johnny Reid talks to 24 Hours' Sarah Hanlon about music, legends dying and why his fans are so important to him. POSTMEDIA

Singer Johnny Reid talks to 24 Hours' Sarah Hanlon about music, legends dying and why his fans are so important to him. POSTMEDIA


Jonesing Johnny Reid fans are in for a treat: The multi-platinum, singer-songwriter just released his highly anticipated ninth studio album, Revival, and announced a new tour with plenty of Canadian dates. Revival is a decidedly different record from the six-time Juno winner - it's got the soulful and fun country sound that Reid has become famous for, but Revival's raw and vulnerable lyrics make it his best yet. As Reid puts it: "Revival is all about new beginnings, finding a voice in the middle of all the noise and distraction." The Scottish-Canadian heartthrob, who went to high school in Brampton and still visits Ontario often, checked in with 24 Hours to give us the scoop on his new emotional album:


We have lost so many incredible musicians this year; it is terrible. But it's not what you take, it is what you leave behind that's essential. Having the opportunity to put yourself on tape makes you immortal in a certain way. I think that's why you have to take pride in what you're up to and make sure that whatever you leave behind you are very proud of.


It is an interesting process for me, needless to say. I think just as people, just as humans, we want to make sure we are always growing and sort of getting better. Sometimes I think it is very important to sort of stop and take a look and realize how you got to where you find yourself. Looking back on my early years, I was really steeped in soul music - from Memphis to Philadelphia and Detroit soul. On my mom's side, it's all we listened to growing up in my house in Scotland. On my dad's side, we had a lot of great storytelling music, a lot of folk and rural soul music. So it was a perfect mix for me.


I never once called myself a country singer. I never once called myself a soul singer, a blues singer, a folk singer or a jazz singer, I've never called myself anything. I was just very fortunate to have found an audience within the country market. I don't think it was my voice or the music - I think it was really the lyrical content which connected with people who turn on the radio every day and listened to a certain format. Consequently, I was celebrated in that format.

For that, I will forever be grateful but I have never, ever stood up and said I am a country singer. I am really not a country singer - I am hard to put in a pigeon hole and it has been a blessing and a curse my whole career. People within the industry always want to label you: Is he a pop guy? Is he a rock guy? What is he? I grew up listening to every style of music so that is reflected in my work as an artist.


I have always been somebody who has tried to stay in the positive, someone who tries to be a shining light. Really focus on dedication, devotion, appreciation, and all these things, but you know I have also dealt with a lot of stuff in private. I had somebody in my life that was struggling with alcohol issues and it was never something I would have put on another record but it was time with this record. The song is Cry No More. I had written the lyrics a long time ago and basically, the song is a relationship that takes place between an alcoholic and a bottle. I have yet to meet somebody who hasn't been affected by [alcohol abuse]- whether personally or someone they know. I think that's a huge difference with this album. Another example: The song, Regret, I had to call my father to ask his permission to record that song because it's a very true story about my dad having to leave his family behind to bring my brother, myself and my mother to Canada.


They call me an enigma because I value every relationship I have in my life, but there is no relationship professionally that I put more value in than the relationship between me and the people that support me and listen to my music and buy my records. People like me, who have the same fundamental values; people that look at the world the same as me; people who aren't attention seekers. Everyday people, hardworking people. I've heard people say, "Oh my producer didn't like that! My agent thought I would do this." I really don't give a s--what other people say! The only people that I care about are the people who I sing for. I make records for people - I don't make them for record labels.

Johnny Reid's Revival is out now. Catch Johnny on tour in Vancouver on March 4 at The Queen Elizabeth Theatre and in Toronto on April 2 and 3 at The Danforth Music Hall or check johnnyreid.com for the full tour lineup.