At just age 9, Tenille had a plan: she was going to try to get Shania Twain’s attention at her concert and get herself invited up on stage with the country music icon. The nine-year-old made an eye-catching sign that said, “Shania, Can I Please Sing With You,” and, with her mom’s help, made up a costume that resembled one Shania wore in a concert video. It worked. “That was the moment. I’ll never forget standing next to my hero,” Tenille told me yesterday afternoon, backstage, before kicking off the Dierks Bentley “Burning Man” tour in Hamilton, Ont. And she plans to pay/play it forward, hoping to invite a young girl at one of her concerts someday to join her onstage and maybe inspire a future generation country music star.

Fast-forward several years, eight years to be precise (2011), and Tenille and I met for the first time at Canadian Country Music Week in Hamilton during a showcase in a Hammer bar/restaurant. Over the next few years, our paths crossed again and it was so obvious: here was a young, amazing talent who was mining very emotional situations, real and otherwise, and coming up with incredible, relatable songs. Actually, they were beyond relatable. They made you feel for the subject, sometimes for the singer, touching your heart, making you empathize with the story being sung. You knew this was someone special, crafting their material into the true definition of art.

Having moved to Nashville a few years ago from Grande Prairie, Alberta, Tenille has some heavyweight support behind her, all believing in her, her music and her craft. The believers include a major record label in Music City (she signed with them last year), producer Jay Joyce, the man behind the unique sounds of Eric Church and Brothers Osborne, and a growing fan base that includes Miranda Lambert.

In Canada, the believers include country radio, having pushed her single “Somebody’s Daughter” into the Top 10 on the national charts this week. Tenille’s unique sound has caught on. (FYI, when you see her live, watch her drummer during the opening 90 seconds of the song – he’s right into it!) Dierks Bentley is another believer, inviting Tenille on this tour that will take up most of 2019.

Anyone who’s been there will caution you: there are sacrifices to be made on the way to fame. This weekend, Tenille reaches a personal life milestone – her 25th birthday. She won’t be home to celebrate. Instead, she be a tour bus as the tour entourage heads west from Ontario during a few days away from the concert stage.

But Tenille knows what demands have been and will be placed on her in the weeks, months and years to come. Tenille Townes is ready for the spotlight. Safe travels, my friend, and have a happy birthday!

Tenille, with the Dierks Bentley “Burning Man” tour, plays Ottawa tonight (Jan. 18) and Oshawa tomorrow.

You can hear the full, unedited interview with Tenille here:

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