There’s no time like the present

Local singer/songwriter Kevin Roy quit a career to focus on his passion

Having recently left a professional career as a teacher, Kevin Roy made a decision, “it’s now or never” to make his lifelong passion his new career. 

On Feb. 7 at the West End Cultural Centre, the 28 year-old Winnipegger will release his debut album, Taller than the Trees.

Roy grew up listening to Neil Young playing from his grandfather’s record player and developed a natural ear for great music. He started playing the guitar very young, and by the age of 12 he was able to play the harmonica simultaneously.

“This city is so rich with musicians who have made a name for themselves. A guy [Young] from the same city as me made such inspirational songs,” Roy says.

In addition to Old Shakey and musicians like Gram Parsons and Tony Rice, Roy says his biggest inspirations are the people he’s met along the way – whether he was on the road touring, performing at a house concert or just jamming in a friend’s basement.  

Alongside producer and audio engineer Lloyd Petersen of Wonder Dog Recording (Crash Test Dummies, Luke Doucet, the Weakerthans, Wailin’ Jennys), Roy dedicated the summer of 2013 summer to creating Taller than the Trees, which was mastered by Jamie Sitar (Bif Naked, Swollen Members). 

Helping Roy create his folk, bluegrass, country blend was his band, consisting of vocalist Amie Peterson, mandolin player Donovan Locken, banjo and dobro player Anthony Kost and upright bassist Karl Ratchinsky. Former Wailin’ Jennys fiddler Jeremy Penner also appears on the album.

“I want the CD to sound like the band is playing live,” Roy says.

The songwriter says the majority of his songs were written about events in his life, and that the year and a half prior to recording the album is when he really turned to music as an expressive outlet. Through any stressful time or situation, he feels that music is the perfect way to relieve tension. 

And even though his songs are deeply personal, people tend to relate.

“When you get emails or messages from someone who heard a song, and they’ve related to it, these are pieces of me that I’m sharing, and if people can find comfort in them, it gives that feeling or reaffirming of what I’m doing,” he says. “To have that kind of emotional impact on someone is wow.”

Published in Volume 68, Number 18 of The Uniter (January 29, 2014)

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