PROFILE — 13-year-old B.C. musician nominated for national blues award

Story by CBC Kids News • 2021-01-06 07:00

Liam Docherty up for new artist of the year

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Liam Docherty


Qualicum Beach, British Columbia



Claim to fame

When it comes to the blues, what’s the key to standing out?

Red hair. Oh, and some serious talent, too.

At least that’s how Liam Docherty has made a name for himself.

Liam Docherty has been playing guitar since he was four. (Liam Docherty Music/YouTube)

The young talent who gained the nickname “red-headed blues boy” while performing at a local farmers’ market, has been nominated for New Artist of the Year at the 24th annual Maple Blues Awards.

The Maple Blues Awards is a national program recognizing the best blues musicians across Canada.

“It's a really big deal,” Liam told host Gloria Macarenko on CBC's On The Coast.

From busking to best new artist

Liam first started playing guitar when he was four, and was inspired to start learning the blues after seeing a concert by Australian guitarist Tommy Emmanuel in 2015.

The panel that nominated Liam consists of 64 blues experts from across Canada. (Image submitted by Liam Docherty).

The blues — a music genre created by African Americans in the Deep South of the U.S. — is known for its distinct musical form and fingerpicking pattern on guitar.

After some time spent honing his skills, Liam started performing in public.

“I kept on practising over the years,” he said. ”When I was seven, I learned some pop songs and I'd busk at the Salt Spring Island farmers’ market.”

This year, he was supposed to perform at the Vancouver Island Music Festival and the Nanaimo Blues Festival, but they were cancelled because of COVID-19.

Instead, he put out an album, Modern Magic Melody, which earned him the nomination.

Liam said he got a lot of inspiration for the album by finding out more about his favourite blues musicians.

(Liam Docherty Music/YouTube)

His song, Wipe My Weeping Eyes, was a response to reading about how Robert Leroy Johnson, a famous American blues musician, was affected by the Mississippi Delta flood.

Other songs are inspired by phrases from poems and books that Liam likes and writes down in his journal.

Liam will find out if he wins new artist of the year sometime in February.

With files from On the Coast
TOP IMAGE CREDIT: Liam Docherty Music/YouTube

CLARIFICATION - this article was updated Jan 31, changing Black to African American, to better identify the group of people who are credited with the creation of the blues genre of music.

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