Juno winner William Prince kicks off SLAS concert series

William Prince (Contributed photo/SLAS)

MORRISBURG – It was a little difficult to get in touch with Juno award-winning singer/songwriter William Prince. However, that was quite understandable. As part of his packed touring schedule, William Prince was in Philadelphia earlier this week, opening a concert for Neil Young.

On Saturday, October 6, at 7 p.m. William Prince will open the St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage 2018-19 concert season in a spectacular evening of music about “life, love’s little treasures and tales of everyday homegrown heroes” according to SLAS president, Sandra Whitworth, “each line delivered in his beautiful, dusky baritone voice.”

A rising international star, Prince’s debut CD, Earthly Days, garnered honours for the singer and composer including Aboriginal Artist of the Year at the 2016 Western Canadian Music Awards and Contemporary Roots Album of the Year at the 2017 Juno Awards. He inducted Bruce Cockburn (who has also performed at the St. Lawrence Stage) into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame, “earning praise from not just Cockburn, but fellow inductee Neil Young.”

Joining William Prince for the opening concert of the SLAS season will be renowned Edmonton singer/songwriter, Scott Cook, who brings “humour, a disarming honesty and a deep love of humanity” to his music, according to Whitworth.

Prince was raised on the Peguis First Nation of Manitoba and has been singing and performing literally since his childhood. He was inspired by Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson and his father, a preacher and fellow musician.

While Prince’s music has been described by some as “country and a bit of roots,” he does not limit himself.

“My music is story telling, country-folk, framed inside what feels like old gospel melody,” Prince explained. “I grew up playing and listening to country music and gospel.”

He is proud of his heritage as an Anishinabe from the Peguis First Nation. However, as he explained in an interview with CBC Manitoba’s Information Radio in 2018, he didn’t grow up attuned with his culture. It’s something he’s discovered over time. “I’m being asked or questioned about my indigeneity throughout my music and travelling, so it’s always on my mind.”

Singing is literally a burning force in his life.

He embraces many types of music, many different artists, including Leonard Cohen and Willie Nelson. However, his own words and music always remain deeply personal.

“Life inspires me to write,” Prince explained. “Lately my environment is constantly changing and growing which makes it easy to generate new takes and ideas about things.

Love is the constant fire in my life. Love for my family and my incredible son, whom I’m so inspired by.”

Past fans and new ones will be bowled over by the depth and beauty of his music and lyrics, all delivered in a memorable, rich voice.

I asked William Prince what makes him, as an artist, unique.

“I guess I’m always trying to say things in the most different way possible,” he said. “I’m not afraid to be vulnerable and open around people. I’ve always been that way.

Each and every show is a healing session. I invite people to heal with me by talking about my own shortcomings and pain.

I’m always looking on the bright side even when staring into the dark.”

Scott Cook, who will open for William Prince on Saturday evening, is also a wonderfully unique and talented singer and songwriter, who has independently released a number of albums.

Sandra Whitworth of the SLAS said that Scott’s “tunes weave threads of folk, roots, blues, soul and country over spacious fingerstyle guitar and clawhammer banjo arrangements.”

“I’m working within a long tradition, going back through Woody Guthrie and the folks that inspired him, and hopefully connecting it to my own particular life in a way that speaks to the world today,” Cook said.

As an artist who travels almost constantly, a true troubadour, Cook is inspired by many things in his writing. “The road, of course, has been a perennial theme…But as time goes on I also find myself more willing to try and tell other folks’ stories. All along my biggest musical influence has come from the other small time song writers I encounter along the way.”

His musical interests are wide ranging, his voice and style unforgettable. He loves what he does: he sets no limits on creativity.

“I’m a music fan. I love all of it. I played punk rock in high school, produced hip hop in college and have an on-going interest in Afro-Caribbean music. But troubadouring has been my living for these past eleven years,” Cook explained. “It’s taken me all around the world…A folk singer’s job is to sing songs for the people, and a big part of that is learning to speak a language that has room in it for everyone.”

Tickets for William Prince in concert, with Scott Cook opening, Saturday, October 6, at 7 p.m. at the St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage, Upper Canada Playhouse in Morrisburg, are $20 in advance and $25 at the door.

Contact the Playhouse, Rurban Brewing, the McIntosh Inn or http://www.st-lawrencestage.com/shows.html