Dreams can come true. Just ask Tenille Townes.
Way up in freezing Grand Prairie, Alberta, Canada, 9-year-old Tenille would marvel at the Northern Lights. Inside, there was a DVD of a Shania Twain concert from Miami, Florida. When the famous country singer’s tour came to Edmonton, Tenille’s parents took the five-hour drive to Rexhall Place. The little girl made up her hair and dressed like Shania Twain and told everyone she was going to sing with her onstage.
“I had made a sign that said, ‘Shania, Can I Please Sing With You?’ Townes said. “I sang every song at the top of my lungs holding up that sign. She walked over and reached out her hand and pulled me up and I walked around the stage and sang with her.
“I’ll never forget that feeling of standing next to a hero of mine that I’d spent my whole life looking up to and looking out into this black curtain of light of 18,000 screaming, going this is exactly what I want to do for the rest of my life.”
Fifteen years later, Tenille Townes returned onstage in an Edmonton arena, this time backed by her own four-piece band. She has a record deal with Columbia Nashville and is on the multi-week Dierks Bentley Burning Man Tour, which will be at the Reno Events Center on Saturday, Feb. 16.
Her all original, solo acoustic record “Living Room Worktapes” was listed by Rolling Stone as among the “10 Best Country EPs of 2018.” She has a hit song and video, “Somebody’s Daughter.” Her full-length album debut with the label was produced by Jay Joyce, who has made albums for Emmylou Harris and Patty Griffin.
“Working with Jay taught me so much about just trusting the process,” Townes said. “He has such an interesting way of letting the song become what it’s supposed to be and not being afraid of trying anything and everything.”
Inspired and influenced by Griffin and Lori McKenna, Townes, 25, is a serious songwriter who frequently records melodies on her phone and has notebooks of lyrics scattered throughout her Nashville home.
“I get inspiration from stories and things that I’m experiencing or that I am inspired by, things that other people are walking through,” she said. “Writing is a vessel process for me where you are catching the creativity that is rolling through you. I am grateful to have that in my life as a way of healing and connecting to others.”
She was 19 when she and her father drove 45 hours in a Toyota pickup truck from Grand Prairie to Music City, USA, where she wanted to live. Another wish come true.
“It’s such a dream,” she said “You have all these things that you say, ‘One day, how cool would it be to go on a big tour,’ or ‘One day, what a dream it would be to get a record deal and go work with a group of people who believe in this music.’ And all of a sudden, all these far-off, someday things are happening … and I am just so grateful. I feel that every little thing and every little moment led to the next.”
— Tim Parsons
Tenille Townes in ConcertHeadliner: Dierks Bentley
With: Jon Pardi
When: 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 16
Where: Reno Events Center
ABOUT Tim Parsons
Tim Parsons is the editor of Tahoe Onstage who first moved to Lake Tahoe in 1992. Before starting Tahoe Onstage in 2013, he worked for 29 years at newspapers, including the Tahoe Daily Tribune, Eureka Times-Standard and Contra Costa Times. He was the recipient of the 2011 Keeping the Blues Alive award for Journalism.
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