The career of Alberta country artist J.J. Shiplett has not been an overnight sensation by any stroke of the imagination. A stroke of luck though? Perhaps.
As a long-running touring and recording artist, the musician had built an impressive reputation for himself through Western Canada. Early last year, however, Shiplett’s life changed for the better in a matter of two weeks.
“A friend of mine reached out to me and told me that Johnny Reid had heard a song of mine and that he liked it and was going to call me,” Shiplett begins, speaking with the Times & Transcript in advance of his show at the Moncton Coliseum on Monday evening. “Next thing you know, I’m in Nashville working with Johnny two weeks later. It’s pretty unbelievable, looking back on it.”
He says that the time he spent in Nashville was eye-opening, but only in the very best of ways. The city is home to a plethora of songwriters, many of whom are responsible for a probable majority of tracks we hear on the radio today. Having had the opportunity to sit down with them in a room was not lost on Shiplett.
“It’s a bit of a different world in the sense that there are a lot of songwriters and a lot of singers. They tend to be two separate worlds down there, while in Canada, they tend to be combined. I’ve always been a songwriter, and so it was a bit of a different mindset when approaching writing songs with these amazing writers. Wrapping my mind around how I was going to sing these songs to make them as personal as possible was a challenge, but I do think that’s how good songs come about as well.”
Including having the opportunity to work with some of Nashville’s brightest songwriters, Shiplett’s alignment with Reid has proven to be a wise move on a number of other levels. Not only has he been able to leverage Reid’s extensive network, he has also been given the remarkable opportunity to get in front of thousands of people every evening, serving as the support act on Reid’s current national tour.
“I’ve toured Canada for the last 12 years in vans that could break down at any given moment. To have the chance to perform 47 dates across the country – in a bus nonetheless – is nothing short of a dream.”
Shiplett shares that his musical dream started at a young age. Growing up, he was surrounded by music: The son of a guitarist and the nephew of a professional musician, it didn’t take much coaxing to convince Shiplett pick up the guitar at age 12.
He credits both his parents as having both fostered and encouraged his love of music as he was growing up.
“My parents always believed in the arts. Thanks to them, I got put in lessons for piano, drums and guitar. Even back then, I appreciated just how lucky I was even though there were times I would rather be playing sports than worrying about going to music lessons.”
With a full-length studio release due out later this year, a self-produced effort completed under the executive guidance of Johnny Reid, Shiplett is preparing for what could be a launching point towards bigger and better things.
“Now that things have started to click, I am going to make sure to push forward to make things happen to the best of my abilities,” he says. “This could very well be the start of the next chapter of my career, but I’m also fully aware that nothing is guaranteed.”
What: J.J. Shiplett, special guest to Johnny Reid
When: Monday March 28, 7 p.m.
Where: Moncton Coliseum, 377 Killam Dr., Moncton
Tickets start at $39.50, plus service charges. Advance tickets are available at the Moncton Coliseum Box Office, by phone (506) 857-4100 and online at tickets.moncton.ca