British Columbia

Straight Outta Dawson: unlikely musical trio highlights Northern B.C. roots

Ben Heppner, Roy Forbes and Tonye — three incredibly talented artists from Dawson Creek — come together for a special performance and pay homage to their northern roots.

'The fact that [Dawson Creek] had a little something to do with all three of us is pretty interesting'

Soul singer Tonye, folk musician Roy Forbes, and opera singer Ben Heppner are celebrating their Dawson Creek roots in a group performance. (Jon Siddall)

Dawson Creek, British Columbia might only have around 12,000 residents, but it managed to produce three widely different — and successful — musicians who are now coming together to pay homage to their northeastern roots.

Opera singer Ben Heppner, folk musician Roy Forbes, and soul singer Tonye will perform for the first time together as part of CBC Music's special concert series "Outta Dawson."

"There is no Dawson Creek sound," said Forbes. "The three of us are very different. But the fact that [Dawson Creek] had a little something to do with all three of us is pretty interesting. There`s more stuff going up there as well that people don`t know about."

Heppner said he owes his performance career to a Dawson Creek drama teacher who saw him perform at church.

"The drama teacher twisted my arm to sing at the Christmas concert to the school. I was scared spitless because I didn't sing the stuff that they were used to hearing —  the modern, popular stuff," he said.

"My friends, school mates were really positive and supportive ... That's when I sort of got turned onto performing."

'We don't have a lot of heroes in Dawson Creek'

Tonye — the youngest of the trio — also cites church and school as important catalysts to her career. Born in the U.K., her family immigrated to Dawson Creek where her parents still live.

"I'm not going to mince words here. I really didn't enjoy it at first. I had a hard time settling in. I had a hard time finding the right crew of people to hang out with," she said.

"Where I found my place in Dawson Creek was amongst the musical kids, the choir kids, the musical theatre kids."

She even remembers seeing Ben Heppner's picture up on the wall of her high school.

"We don't have a lot of heroes in Dawson Creek. Hopefully my picture is going to be there one day."

As for their performance, Heppner said he was confident the trio will concoct some music magic.

"I didn't grow up singing opera, so I have these other roots in me and I think that's kind of the way with a lot of people. I'm adaptable. Roy and Tonye are adaptable. We'll see how it turns out. We don't know yet, do we?" he laughed.

Ben Heppner, Roy Forbes and Tonye will perform Tuesday night, Feb. 21,  at Guilt and Company in Gastown.

With files from On The Coast

To listen to the audio, click on the link labelled Unlikely musical trio highlight Northern B.C. roots