Juno nominee Royal Wood will be featured during the first concert of the newly launched Grand Piano Sessions at the Art Gallery of Swift Current.
Wood will be behind the piano for a March 8 performance to launch a concert series utilizing the grand piano situated at the Art Gallery.
His 2011 album The Waiting earned Wood a Juno Award nomination for Songwriter of the Year, and after his interview for this story Wood received his second career Juno nomination, named as one of five 2013 finalists in the Adult Alternative Album of the Year for We Were Born to Glory. He is nominated along with Bahamas, Kathleen Edwards, Serena Ryder and The Barr Brothers.
"That Juno nomination meant a great deal because that was my peers. That's the industry acknowledging you're not only talented, you're as good as these folks that you're nominated with. And I was a fan of everyone in that category that year," he said of being included in the 2011 category which boasted winners Arcade Fire and nominees Drake, Hannah Georgas and Sarah McLachlan. "It was a huge, huge honour."
The talented singer/songwriter grew up near Peterborough and with a down-to-earth rural upbringing he admittedly feels at home both on a large concert stage backed by a band, or in a small, intimate performance venue.
"I am as comfortable, or sometimes more comfortable solo than with a large ensemble. And I love it. Obviously I've composed a very large group and I've toured that way, and I've played with orchestras," Wood said during a phone interview to promote his upcoming Swift Current concert. "But I love telling a story and I love that connection, that intimate connection I get to make solo. It's a different feel when you're the only person up there because all eyes are on you and the energy is all directed towards you."
Wood has been building his reputation as a multi-talented performer since making his recording debut in 2002 when he released five songs on The Milkweed EP. He made his full length recording debut with the 2006 release Tall Tales, followed a year later by A Good Enough Day in 2007. He penned six songs on The Lost and Found EP in 2009 before really hitting the public eye with the 2010 award winning The Waiting. He is currently touring in support of his fourth full length recording We Were Born To Glory.
Wood leapt into the public eye when he was named the Songwriter of the Year by iTunes in 2008, and his album The Waiting earned Wood a Juno Award nomination for Songwriter of the Year.
After his headline tour in support of The Waiting in 2010, Wood did what he called "The Root of It All" Tour, to more intimately connect with his fans.
"I grew up doing that show. I grew up on 100 acres and so I was so used to performing just myself, with a piano or guitar and singing my songs. And I kind of missed it. I missed the smaller town feel and I missed the community aspect."
Admittedly, there is a thrill playing before large crowds at the National Arts Centre, but he also appreciates those who see shows in smaller venues in order to support the arts.
"There's something there that I really connect to from my roots, just from my upbringing," he said. "I think when you're a song writer, that's the appeal of it. That's what it has to offer because you don't have to have a band."
Wood also received accolades via the International Songwriting Competition when he was named one of 14 finalists in the Adult Contemporary category for I Want Your Love. He had earlier places as a semi-finalist for his song The Glory in the Adult Contemporary.
Wood admits that being nominated for a Juno presented him with a series of opportunities, including being asked to co-write with artists such as Colin James, Randy Bachman, plus Wayne Petti from Cuff The Duke.
"People that I revered and respected and was a fan of were coming to me and asking me to write with them. That's was a huge deal for me."
Wood is continuing to write and craft material for a new album project, and he will be taking time to write in Ireland later this year. Admittedly, an international perspective does have an impact on his song writing.
"Location does a lot. I was just in Paris for a while, and things that were coming were definitely influenced by just being back in Paris. It definitely has it's own energy there. I'm about to take off to Ireland for a while to do some writing. I'm sure things are going to come just from being there that wouldn't have happened otherwise. Location and the international way that we can so easily travel in this day and age definitely plays a part."
Advance tickets for Friday's concert are available at Pharmasave or by calling Shann at 306-778-2686. Doors at the Art Gallery of Swift Current open at 7 p.m., with the concert starting at 8 p.m.