A top young country musician has been on a wild ride the past few months and the results have made it worth her while.
Tanya Ryan placed third in the Wild 95.3 Calgary radio station and Alberta Music’s Project Wild. The competition had up-and-coming young country musicians completing a series of career-enhancing challenges since last spring.
“It was pretty arduous,” Ryan said. “It wasn’t the individual tasks themselves that were challenging, there was a lot to do in a small space of time. It was just a large workload.”
Ryan received $50,000 for third place. Brad Saunders placed first, winning $100,953, and Calgary artists Nice Horse took second, winning $75,000.
Twelve contestants took part in an artist development boot camp, a series of showcases and completed career-enhancing challenges that included songwriting and making industry-related connections.
The program was designed to develop and launch the careers of Alberta’s up and coming artist while creating a sense of community among artists and music professionals. The three finalists performed at The Palace Theatre in Calgary Nov. 25 before the winners were announced.
“I’m really grateful to have been a part of the program and all of the amazing people that I met,” Ryan said.
“I strongly encourage any artist that is considering music as a career that is close to the country genre to apply for this next year because it’s hugely impactful.”
Ryan said one of her favourite tasks was making a video where she explained who she is and what she is about.
“I had a lot of fun doing that because I got to do all the things that I love to do,” she said.
Another favourite for Ryan was the Warriors for Women charity event she held earlier this fall that raised just $47 short of $11,000 for Rowan House Emergency Shelter in High River. It’s a charity she’s been an ambassador for the past three years due to her personal relationship with domestic violence and admiration for the organization.
Warriors for Women combined Ryan’s skills as a certified yoga instructor with her talent as a musician in two hours of yoga and live acoustic music.
Ryan said the challenges were a learning experience that helped her gain a better understanding of herself as a person and a musician.
“I just felt like I was able to better understand my direction as an artist,” she said. “It really solidified where I was going. I feel like the veil was lifted a little bit with this experience in that I just understand the industry better and I understand myself better. I know what’s appropriate for me to pursue and what makes the most sense. I’m not as fixated on the results.”
There is no school for musicians interested in making a career out of performing, so Ryan said it can be a challenge to make it happen.
“You go through with your fingers crossed and hope for the best,” she said. “That’s the best you can do, especially for a young artist. You just have to figure it out. It’s kind of lonely sometimes, but luckily you get other artists along the way that are going through the same thing.”
The $50,000 Ryan received is just icing on the cake.
“Obviously, I’m really just happy to have some grant funding that I can move forward with,” she said. “I’m just really excited that I get to make music.”
Ryan said she plans to release an album in 12 to 18 months and will use the winnings to cover the costs associated with the album, including supporting its release and marketing.
“I’ll be looking to, over the next period of time, write as much as possible so I have a lot to choose from,” she said. “I want the album to have every song on it be something that I love.”