New Brunswick·Q & A

Johnny Reid headlining Fredericton's Maritime Countryfest

Country singer Johnny Reid, headlining Maritime Countryfest in Fredericton, talks inspiration and life lessons with Information Morning Fredericton host Terry Seguin.

Reid is a Scottish-born singer

Johnny Reid is a Juno Award-winning musician. ((Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press))

In case you missed it, CBC's Information Morning Fredericton aired Terry Seguin's interview with Johnny Reid on Wednesday. Reid is headlining Maritime Countryfest in Fredericton Saturday.

Here's a transcript of the interview we ran on the show:

Terry Seguin: Here's a thought that just occurred to me. Listening to your music, I detect no accent whatsoever, but hearing you speak, I hear a distinct Scottish accent. How do you speak without an accent?

Johnny Reid: "It's not as distinct as it used to be. It used to be a lot stronger. When I go back to Scotland, all my relatives think I've become a Canadian. They all think, I'm very much Canadian. I grew up in a very small village in Scotland and a lot of the music I was exposed to as a young boy was all American music. I think sometimes we think
people from Scotland are listening to Scottish music. I grew up listening to Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Etta James. My mother loved soul music, so I grew up with a lot of Stax [Records] kind of records. My father really loved, what he called story music, country music you know, Charlie Rich, Charlie Pride, Don Williams, so I guess I grew up listening to that type of music and the delivery of that music, so I guess along the way, that's just how I thought people sang.

Terry Seguin: So you've blended then the soul that you got from your mother and the country you got and the part you got from your Dad.

Johnny Reid: Yes, looking back at it, up until just a few years ago... I had never really thought about it. To be honest, I sort of just wrote the songs, the way I wanted to write them, sing them the way I wanted to sing them, perform the way I wanted to perform. And then one day, I was sitting, the boys and I were on the bus and it just sort of dawned on me that in actuality, I was probably just a reflection of my upbringing.

Terry Seguin: Are you the same performer today as you were when you started?

Johnny Reid: I would like to think I'm the exact same person. I think I've got better, you know. I think through the years I've learned a lot of of lessons, what to do and what not to do, etc.

Terry Seguin: What are the lessons?

Johnny Reid: One of the biggest lessons is to keep your feet on the floor. It's kind of hard to fall off of the floor (laughs).
Just keeping grounded and not really getting above yourself and always trying your best to be yourself, I think. The music business, if you surround yourself with the wrong people, if you surround yourself with people that constantly
tell you how great you are and never tell you the truth and just tell you what you want to hear, I would imagine it would be very easy to get above yourself.

Terry Seguin: Where do you go to get that truth?

Johnny Reid: I think you have to look to your family. That's what I've done. I've got four children. My father, you know,
my father is always good for putting you in your place (laughs).

Terry Seguin: (laugh) Father's are like that, aren't they (laughs)?

Johnny Reid: (laughs) Yeah, they are like that. I like to keep people around me like the guys I have on the road with me, three of them were childhood friends of mine when I was growing up in Scotland. They don't look at me any different than when we were in primary school. So it's good to keep people like that around you. I think [if] you surround yourself with good honest people, [they] will tell you what to hear when you need to hear it.

Terry Seguin: I guess it's hard when you're part of the star-making system to just, as you say, "keep your feet on the ground."

Johnny Reid: Yeah, it is. Sometimes I feel like some of the younger acts coming up, you know they have a false sense of what this is all about it. The music business for me was never about buses and billboards you know, that was never the reason I got into the music business. The reason I wanted to get into the music business was because I genuinely, wholeheartedly love to sing. I love singing songs and telling stories and playing music, so that's why I got into the music business. My father who is a diesel mechanic told me. He said, "Look, the only advice I can give you is to do something you would do for free." And for many years, I did do it for free by the way, but the only thing I felt compelled to do was to sing songs.

Terry Seguin: Sounds like your father gave you some important lessons about life.

Johnny Reid: Yes, my grannie, my grannie, my Dad, my mother... I'm a good listener, you know. My gran used to say that's why you've got two ears and one mouth. (Terry and Johnny laugh) But yeah, I just truly love what I do and treat it with a lot of respect and all these relationships in the music business that people talk about. You know, my relationships have never been about record labels or agents or managers. You know it's never been that. My relationship, the relationship that I've really kept near my heart is my relationship between me and the people who like me. The people that hear my songs and go "Man."

Terry Seguin: Can you feel that relationship? When you're on stage and you're looking out at the crowd, how does that
relationship manifest itself when you are looking out at that crowd?

Johnny Reid: From a very early age, I was always good at reading people... A fella told me many many years ago when I was about 12, 13 years old, he said there was a big difference between an artist and an entertainer. In his estimation, an artist is somebody that puts themselves in a room, they're a wee bit self-indulgent and you know, sink into their music and it [will] be a very personal experience. An entertainer was somebody that took their God-given talent and shared it with people. And I've always wanted to be an entertainer, you know, so it manifests through me when I step on stage and I'm feeling... and I look out. And usually, I can only see the first 25, 30 rows. And the energy I get out of that, it feeds me, you know, it's a high like no other. And that's how it manifests itself in me.

Terry Seguin: That's a great description.

Johnny Reid: The energy I'm given... I'm able to, it magnifies me, it makes me what I am, so yeah, with all that being said, you know I can hardly wait to get up there and perform.

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