Interview – Chris Henderson

Canadian Beats recently had the chance to catch up with Chris Henderson and chat about his career and recently released album The Charm that includes his latest single “My Regret.” Henderson recently hosted Saskatchewan’s Telemiracle 4, along with Jeffrey Straker, as national hosts.

Chris Henderson originates from Estevan, Saskatchewan and now calls Regina home. He began his country music career in 2006 after winning the Regina’s 620 CKRM Big Country Talent Show. Henderson was awarded the opportunity to record a single. Working with the Poverty Plainsmen, he released his first single “The Difference You Make” in October 2006. Because the single became a tune frequently played on CKRM, it encouraged him to pursue other recording opportunities. Henderson’s debut album, Follow the Signs was released in 2008 with four singles from that album released to country radio. He travelled extensively across Canada to promote this album. It wasn’t until 2011 that this very talented singer/songwriter decided that it was now or never so he quit his day job as a high school English teacher to pursue his dream full time.

I had the privilege of meeting Chris Henderson for the first time in December 2011, when he and two friends, Jess Moskaluke and Blake Berglund, performed at a house concert in a small town in Manitoba as part of their Grassroots & Cowboy Boots tour. His voice has strength to it and he is true to himself when he performs. And, he is a storyteller. My respect for him as an artist was immediate.

Henderson’s second album My Turn was released in 2014 with three singles from that album released to country music radio. “Don’t Miss Your Kiss Goodbye” garnered him the Saskatchewan Country Music Association’s 2014 Song of the Year.

Chris Henderson has appeared at many festivals across Canada over the years, including Boots and Hearts and Craven Country Jamboree, as well as many venues across Canada for Country Music Week as part of the CCMA showcases.

First of all, would you like to introduce yourself to our readers who may not be familiar with your work? Tell us a little bit about yourself, what made you decide to pursue music as a singer/songwriter?

Music had a funny way of finding me, which makes sense when I look at my family history, My father was a professional musician and many others in my family have also played and performed throughout their lives, so it was a natural fit.

I always loved music and enjoyed doing it for fun throughout my childhood and into my early 20s. It wasn’t until I won the 620 CKRM contest and had a song on the radio that it occurred to me that pursuing music was a possibility. Ten years, three albums and 11 singles later, I’m still doing it and enjoying it more all the time.

If someone hasn’t listened to your music before, how would you describe it?

I always like to say my music is a modern country sound based in traditional roots. The further I go in my career, the more “country” I seem to be getting, although I’m not sure what that means anymore, haha.

I’ve always tried to write about life, real experiences, and be true to myself, and I hope that comes across in my music. I also tend to write a lot about love, heartbreak, relationships, etc., and try my best to avoid the “bro” label. There’s room for everything in this industry, but I like to identify more with an organic approach to my show, and my recordings.

When it comes to songwriting, do you get your ideas through actual words and lyrics, or do you have a melody with the guitar, or is it a combination of both?

Songwriting is all about inspiration for me, so I start wherever the idea comes from. Sometimes it’s a lyric idea, sometimes it’s a melody, and sometimes it’s a combination of both. There are lots of times when I write a song when I’ve made an appointment to do so, and other times when I come running through the door so I can capture an idea before it disappears. It’s pretty random in my life.

Who have you written with that has made a huge impact in your career?

As for whom I’ve written with, I’ve been very lucky to write with plenty of folks who have taught me a great deal. Troy Kokol and I have had some success writing together and have written ten or more songs together now. He and his wife, Joni DeLaurier are two of my favourite writers to work with.

With my latest album, I wrote with Russ Broom, Mike Little, Steve Mitchell, Daryl Burgess, Adam Wheeler, Chris Yurchuck and many, many more, and I learned something from each of them. For The Charm, I had 78 completely written songs to choose from, so it was quite the process. I’m lucky to have worked with so many talented people.

You just released your newest single “My Regret.” Tell us about the song.

“My Regret” is a song that I wrote with Troy Kokol, and it looks like I may need to continue to write with him more often, haha. Our first song together, “Don’t Miss Your Kiss Goodbye” was my first Top 50 and won “SCMA Song of the Year” in 2014, so I’m excited to see this one doing well also.

Troy and I discussed all the things we get to witness as entertainers, and how many people likely wake up the next day thinking, “Oh wow, I said, “what?” or “I can’t believe I did that.” The idea of the song was making sure not to mess up an opportunity when you’ve met someone special, and avoiding making “regrettable” decisions.

And, your new album, The Charm was released on March 6. Where did you get the inspiration from and how has this album made a difference in your life?

The Charm has a double meaning. First, this is my third full-length album and I’m hopeful that “the third time’s the charm” when it comes to the success of the album.

Secondly, the album features a picture of a Turtle Charm on the front cover, and also on the back, hanging from the guitar. My grandmother’s name was “Myrtle” and she made a tradition of giving my cousins and me little turtle trinkets and charms when we would visit as kids.

The third song on this album was written in tribute to her, and one of the best days I ever spent with her. She was bedridden at the end of her life, and when I brought my new guitar over to show her, she managed to get out of bed and go to her piano to “jam” with me for about an hour. It was one of the most powerful days/hours of my life, and was the inspiration for “’Til It’s Just a Memory,” and the imagery for the album.

Tell us a bit about your work with Telemiracle.

It has been my honour and privilege working with Telemiracle for the last two years, and I hope to continue with the organization for many years to come.

For anyone unfamiliar with them, they raise funds to help support those in need in Saskatchewan. The money typically goes to areas like funding for medical equipment, travel expenses related to medical things and also major equipment purchases for organizations that help those in need. They really do some of the most selfless work I’ve ever witnessed.

I’ve had the privilege of helping host their 20-hour televised fundraiser, where we’ve raised over $10.2 million over the last two years and 116 million over the 41 years the organization has been active. As a host, we are advocates for the organization, performers on the show and also help with introducing acts and keeping the show on track. It’s been one of the greatest experiences of my career.

Here at Canadian Beats, we like to include a portion of questions that may help your fans learn something new about you, so here we go:

Canadian Beats is all about Canadian music, so who are your current favourite Canadian bands/artists?

Favourite Canadian bands/artists … great question!

I listen to all kinds of stuff, and I tend to get stuck on an album for a while. That has happened to me recently with Joey Landreth’s new record Whiskey. Same thing with Big Wreck’s newest album Grace Street, it’s been stuck on repeat around me since I bought it.

I do listen to all kinds of stuff and have really been enjoying Blake Berglund’s new album, which hasn’t been released yet. I’ve had the chance to listen to it ahead of time, as I did some background vocals on it, and I know it’ll be well received.

Who has been your biggest musical influence in your life?

I could answer this question a hundred different ways, but I’ll have to give that distinction to my father, Donn. Dad was a travelling musician who played 300 shows a year in the 60s and 70s, and I’m sure the bug in my blood comes to me honestly.

Is there a particular song or musical passage that never fails to move you emotionally?

Probably “How Great Thou Art” if I had to pick one. Whether you are a religious person or not, there is a great deal of power in those old hymns, and it brings back a lot of great memories of my youth, singing with my parents and grandparents.

What’s your motto or the advice you live by?

You miss 100% of the shots you never take. It’s true. I try not to let fear get in the way of what I’d like to accomplish.

Who were you, or would you be nervous to meet?

I’d be nervous to meet a lot of people, haha, but if we’re talking about country music legends, I’d probably have to go with Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson. I’d love to sit around and hear stories from those fellas, and I’d have a hard time uttering a sound in their presence, I’m sure.

What is your favourite past time?

I’m a HUGE baseball nut. I follow the Toronto Blue Jays religiously and I am write/edit for a website called www.jaysjournal.com. It’s a fun hobby that’s turned into a part-time gig for me, and I’ve really enjoyed it.

We, at Canadian Beats, would like to wish you continuous success and thank you so much for this awesome exclusive interview.

Download The Charm: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/the-charm/id1210454824

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Hi all. I’m Nanci Dagg. I am from Winnipeg, Manitoba, and have lived my entire life here. There is nothing I like better than supporting local artists followed by supporting Canadian artists. Although I was a classic rock gal, my go to genre is country. Something about this music that just makes me feel great. I can be found at most country music concerts and shows (from someone’s house to really large venues) taking lots of pictures. Music and photography are two of my passions. Add to this mix, writing about artists, well let’s say, life doesn’t get better than this.
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