Okotoks singer a finalist in national contest

Music: Tanya Ryan finalist for CCMA Discovery Program

By: Tammy Rollie

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Jul 30, 2014 12:08 pm

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An up and coming Okotoks musician got a unique peak into the music industry that few others will ever get.

Singer/songwriter Tanya Ryan is one of six finalists in the Canadian Country Music Association (CCMA) Discovery Program. The program gives lesser-known country music artists the opportunity to work with some of Canada’s most celebrated and established country music leaders.

“It was probably the best news I got all year,” said Ryan of becoming a finalist. “I definitely wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. It’s just a deeper insight into the industry as a whole.”

Ryan re-applied to the program this year after making it to the semifinals last year. Ryan said she wasn’t sure what to expect this year.

“I thought of how many people I know in Alberta that are amazingly talented musicians and I actually thought my chances were pretty slim,” she said. “To be the only one representing Alberta is pretty amazing.”

Don Green, CCMA president, said 180 musicians from across the country submitted applications to the Discovery Program, and Ryan was among those who stood out.

A finalist was selected each from B.C., Alberta and Manitoba and three were selected from Ontario, he said.

“She’s an outstanding person,” Green said of Ryan. “She has personality to her songs and her songwriting is very unique. She has a great sound and she just came through.”

The CCMA flew the Discovery Program finalists to Toronto for five days in May where they met with country music industry leaders who shared their own experiences and words of wisdom for making it to the top in the country music industry.

“We want to focus on new artists and give them a foundation in the business,” he said. “They get some education on touring and how to get an agent and how to do this. They hear from real life people stories and advice on all different aspects of the business.”

Ryan considers the knowledge she gained from the program invaluable.

“We had a chance to talk one-on-one with key people in the industry and just ask questions that have been gnawing at us the past few years,” she said. “It was unreal to have not only the opinions and insights of one person, but the opinions and insights of 30 different people who are relating their experiences. I think I learned more in the music discovery week than I have in the last four years.”

This summer, the program is pairing Ryan up with successful Canadian country music singer Lisa Brokop.

Ryan said she looks forward to learning more about the industry through Brokop and hopes what she learns through the program will help her become a country music success.

“It’s really valuable for any artist in my position to have this opportunity,” she said. “It’s essentially building a business. Any kind of entrepreneurship takes time and takes persistence and continuity. It’s definitely challenging.”

Ryan admits that making her way up the ladder in country music is not always an easy journey.

“We’re put in situations where you are constantly facing rejection,” she said. “Things like the Discovery Program or playing at Nashville North at the Calgary Stampede (where she performed this year) - there’s these little breaks that keep the fire stoked and keep you moving forward. Sometimes you don’t know how to get to the next rung. It’s definitely temporarily restored some confidence.”

The final project for the finalists is performing at the CCMA Discovery Showcase in the 2014 Country Music Week in Edmonton on Sept. 4.

Each finalist will sing three songs and CCMA will select a winner for its Discovery Program.

“It will be a really great opportunity,” she said. “We get to play our hearts out in front of the whole music industry so that’s a pretty big deal for us.”

To learn more about the CCMA Discovery Program go to ccma.org. To learn more about Tanya Ryan go to www.tanyaryan.ca


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