Since releasing their debut album “The Good Life” in the spring of 2017, the five-piece group Prairie Joe, based in Oak Lake, is making a mark in Canada’s gospel music industry.
The band consists of four brothers and a brother-in-law: Robert Thiessen (lead singer, guitarist), Joseph Thiessen (mandolin), Russell Thiessen (vocalist, percussion), Michael Thiessen (bass) and Curtis Szakács (piano).
They were nominated for New Artist of the Year and Southern Gospel/Country Music Album of the Year and were in attendance at the Gospel Music Association (GMA) of Canada’s 39th Annual Covenant Awards ceremony in Edmonton this past January. In spite of not winning an award they are thankful to be recognized.
Prior to becoming Prairie Joe in 2015, the group played gigs for four or five years as a family band.
“As the band developed and the need came up for better-quality music and the gigs we got became more formal, we worked a lot harder on our harmonizing,” said Russell Thiessen.
“As self-taught musicians we were involved in church music growing up, so it was ‘just natural’ to keep performing as adults even though we all have day jobs,” he said.
The group’s rise within the Canadian music industry all began through involvement with the Fellowship of Christian Cowboys.
“Our primary focus and most of our invitations come for help with cowboy church services. That’s where everything started; serving at cowboy church services at different rodeos and such,” Russell said. “From there, it’s gone on to full concerts as well as helping with fundraisers and stuff like that.”
Experience gained at the GMA award ceremony will enrich the group members as they travel across the Prairies, with 30 shows booked so far for 2018.
They begin a tour this month starting in Melfort, Saskatchewan, that continues throughout southern Manitoba.