“It’s kind of cool to see a few things, a few ducks kind of getting in a row,” Canadian country singer Lindsay Ell said.
The Calgary native is just minutes outside of her “second home,” as she likes to call it.
“Both my parents were born here, my grandparents, I have so many aunts and uncles who still live here,” she continued. “We used to make the eight-hour drive back here, sometimes twice a year for Easter and Christmas.”
It’s Ell’s second time performing in Craven, but things have changed quite a bit since she took the stage three years ago.
In 2017, she released her debut EP Worth the Wait, and since then it’s been a whirlwind of adventure.
“It’s been a busy year, it’s been really exciting. I just got to celebrate my first number one on Canadian country radio which is so, so, exciting.”
Ell’s hit Criminal was the first song by a female artist to top the Canadian Country Charts since it was last done in 2007 when Terri Clark’s In My Next Life dominated the airwaves.
But Ell is no overnight success.
“It’s like that rule of 10,000 hours or it takes 10 years to become an overnight success, and you keep working and grinding and eventually it just starts to happen,” she said.
Ell has been catching ears, and turning heads, since the age of 15, when Randy Bachman described her as one of the most talented artists he had ever seen.
“Randy became like another dad to me when I was growing up. He’s such a good guy, so down to earth. He was really the first person who taught me how to write a song,” Ell explained.
Bachman helped co-author her first album, the 2006 release Consider This, but more than that, he introduced her to a guitarist’s paradise.
“Randy Bachman is the one who got me listening to blues and jazz and rock music and as a guitar player it completely opened up my brain to a whole new category.”
Since then, she has had the chance to play with, and learn from, some of the best in country music.
“Getting to tour with artists like Brad Paisley and Keith Urban for sure, as guitar players they’re like idols to me. But getting to open up for an A-lister like Brad or Keith, who have been doing what they do for so long, it’s like a learning experience for me, it’s a master’s class in three hours,” Ell beamed.
Ell toured with Paisley in 2017, and is currently on Keith Urban’s Graffiti U world tour.
Doing more than just rubbing elbows with the stars, Ell is quickly becoming one herself.
The 2018 Canadian Country Music Awards released the nominations for this year: Ell was picked for Female Artist of the Year and Album of the Year.
“To get a nomination for a category like album of the year is such a bucket list moment for me. That truly means that you recorded and an album of music that connects with people, and that’s what I strive to do,” she said.
Her album The Project features her hit single Criminal, and heralds back to her debut with a song titled Worth the Wait. It was widely praised by critics as a coming together of her skills as a songwriter, a guitarist, and a singer.
“It was the first time I got to go into the studio and record music that I loved, and front to back I was like ‘Yes, this is exactly how I feel,’ and now that I get to go sing them onstage, I’m a different artist because of it.”
Even after the nominations, the number one hits, and the chance to take centre stage in her parents’ hometown, Eell is far from finished.
“I’ve always thought as a little girl ‘I just need to get a record deal, I just need to get a song on the radio and then I’m good, I just need to fill in the blank, and then I’m good,’ but it’s like you get to that goal and you get to that really cool moment and then five more doors open.”