Story by Anthony Arsenault
Flashback; It's 1991. I'm sitting in a junior high class, listening to my friend tell tales of how he would make it big in Nashville someday. Every one sort of chuckles, but determination and strong resolve could be seen on his face even then. I didn't know then if he'd be successful, but I hoped he would.
Flash forward 22 years, and that young aspiring country singer is on the cusp of launching a career that already seems to have no limits. His name is Steele, and like the metal, he was unyielding in his determination, and it has paid off.
I had a chance to have a little Q&A with my friend Steele. I hope you all enjoy it
You have been interested in country music since you were young. What or who was your earliest influence? What was it about that influence that drew you in?
My mom introduced me to country music. My dad is a fisherman and was always at sea and when he was gone my mom played her guitar and sang songs by Patsy Cline, The Judd’s, Reba, and Loretta Lynn. Those were the artists that initially drew me into country music. I discovered Garth Brooks and Johnny Cash when I was a teenager and from there it all went south, no pun intended! I’m also a huge fan of Keith Urban, I think we write and sing similar music and he’s an outstanding performer.
You grew up in the small community of Eastern Passage, NS. Of course, as I know, having grown up there as well, opportunities are sometimes not easy to come by. Was there ever a time you thought you wouldn’t make it?
Never, growing up a fisherman’s son I learned one thing really young; no one is going to give you anything. You work hard and follow that thing that beats really hard inside your chest, believe in yourself and anything is possible!
Your song “I’ll Be There” was elected by the United Nations as the theme song for International Year of the Volunteer in 2001. How did this make you feel?
I felt honored! I got to fly to Bonn, Germany and meet Kofi Annan, the Secretary General of the UN. The UN had arranged a private party of 2000 delegates from across Europe and I played a private performance of the song and a few others. Now here’s the cool part… the concert was in Beethoven’s Church in Bonn and the reception was in Beethoven’s house. Very few artists have ever sat and played where Beethoven did - it was an incredible experience!
When did you decide/realize it was time to go to Nashville? What drove this decision?
I knew from a very young age that’s where I needed to be. That’s why at the age of 18 I built a seafood restaurant in Fisherman’s Cove in Eastern Passage to finance my career. I worked day after day, with mom by my side, and grew the restaurant into a successful business allowing me to fund my music career. Remember no one gives you anything… You got to do it yourself!
You’ve opened for the likes of Tim McGraw, Reba McIntyre, Keith Urban, Taylor Swift and Lady Antebellum - all before even releasing an album. How did this make you feel about your career choice? Is something like this a true validation of your ability, or is the album the deciding factor? And also, is Taylor REALLY that sweet?
Yes, Taylor is really that SWEET. To be completely honest I really didn’t get the whole phenomenon until I saw the crowd react to her and her ability to connect with them. True validation came when I set out to Nashville and co-wrote the album with some big time hit writers. When you have someone like Karen Staley (who wrote “Let’s Go To Vegas” (Faith Hill) and “Keeper of the Stars” (Tracy Byrd) and many more) sit in a room with you, write a great song together and hear her say “You Got it Kid”, well that’s validation. I also co-wrote with Don Goodman who wrote “Old Red” (Blake Shelton) which was validating for me as a writer. Being able to record with Kent Wells (Dolly Parton’s Producer) and having Garths Fiddle player, Lady A’s drummer, Reba’s Bass Player, Taylor’s guitar player and Dolly’s piano player on the album was validation that I was actually living my dream!!
Who has been your biggest supporter in your career? Obviously being a country musician is an uphill struggle. What was your motivation during this struggle?
Mom and Dad, my brother Tom and my sister Tammy, family, friends and fans – they have stood by me through tough times. My motivation is and will always be to succeed and I live by the words of my Granddad Jo Brown “The Squeaky Wheel, Gets the Grease”!
When is the official release date of the CD, when can we expect it in Canada, and when can we expect you back home to bring the house down at the Halifax Metro Centre?
The Canadian release will be July 1, 2012. As for the Metro Center, sooner than later I hope.
Are there any current or past country artists that you would like to collaborate with? Who has been the most notable person you’ve met so far?
Dolly was recording her album at the same time I was and we were in the same studio so I got to meet her and she signed my 1963 Gibson Guitar. She is an icon and probably the biggest STAR I’ll ever get to meet, it doesn’t get much bigger than Dolly… LOL!!
I’d love to collaborate with Wynona Judd, Garth Brooks and Keith Urban.
Is there any special message you’d like to pass on to your fans on the East Coast?
I am so VERY PROUD of where I come from; there’s no other place on this earth I’d rather call home. The East coast and the people who live there stand behind their own and believe in them with all their hearts. The East Coast made me who I am and no matter how far this career goes I will always be an East Coast boy.
Anthony Arsenault: www.freewebs.com/anthonyarsenault