Farming and rural living are the driving forces behind singer-songwriter Corinne Newton. “The Prairies and rural life in general are what drives my inspiration for songs,” said Newton. “With only a few exceptions, my songs have al- ways been about something I’ve lived. Most of my life has been spent on the Prairies so that’s what my music is mainly about — the Prairies and Prairie people.”
Newton (born Corinne Mervyn) hails from the Strathclair area, but she, her husband, and two children now live on a century farm near Central Butte, Sask.
Her latest release is a five-song EP album, Real Life Reality, released in March.
Newton’s sound could be described as a cross between Patty Loveless and Jo Dee Messina, and her storytelling style falls somewhere between Mary Chapin Carpenter and Corb Lund.
Hers was a musical family — her parents and her grandparents all played at least one, if not multiple instruments. Her dad played guitar with the Strathclair Rhythmaires and her mom played piano and sang.
Newton’s mother had her in piano lessons by the time she was five. She made the switch to guitar at age 12.
“I always said I wanted to be able to play the guitar like my dad and sing like my mom,” she said. “I’m still working on those.”
Childhood on a farm near Strathclair provided many opportunities for Newton to grow musically. She played in the school and community bands from Grades 7 through 12 and was in the Strathclair Drama Club.
Over the years, she did it all: from acting, to working the lights and sound, to playing bass guitar in the pit, and everything in between. She also was part of The Last Little Bar Band along with fellow musicians, Scott Falloon, Chris Nakonechny, Morgan Ashcroft and Dan Voth, and played all types of venues before her move from Manitoba in 2002.
“There were so many opportunities for a small town,” she said.
The writing came when she was about 15 or 16, although she never really shared any of those early works with anyone. It was purely therapeutic and provided an outlet for her thoughts. She still finds solace in that, even today.
“I have a lot of sad songs,” she admitted. “When Mom passed away (in 2003), music was therapy and I have a lot of songs about her. I think some of my best songs are those sad ones; probably because they really do come from the heart.”
That’s not the case with her latest album, which is upbeat and unique.
“There’s enough sadness and negativity in the world right now,” she said.
The title track, ‘Real Life Reality,’ sums up the tone of the album — people living real-life experiences without technology and connecting with nature and each other. The music video takes snip- pets from real-life videos that folks from across the Prairies submitted.
“The song just kind of flowed out of me,” said Newton.
She wrote the song a few years ago, but didn’t release it. Given the current state of affairs in the world, 2021 seemed like the perfect opportunity.
“Looking at those devices and technology, there’s just a lot of negativity, so if we can just set it aside for a while, we’ll see there’s a lot of things to look at other than that.”
‘The Dugout’ tells of all the adventures and fun that those particular bodies of water have provided for farm kids for decades.
‘Songs About Trains’ is a throwback to the greats like Wabash Cannonball and the Orange Blossom Special with a shout-out to old-time country artists like Johnny Cash, Roy Acuff and Box Car Willie.
Single ‘1905’ is a tribute to our homesteading ancestors, particularly those who settled in the Palliser Triangle.
A comment from her farmer husband, “I’m tired, I’m broke and I just don’t care,” led to the title and subsequent writing of one of the more humorous, yet subtle but playfully accurate songs rounding out the EP.
“The only slow one I put on this one is kind of funny, I think,” said Newton. “Real life, I guess that’s my inspiration.”
She describes her music as a traditional sound that lyrically tells stories of Prairie people.
“I think of Stompin’ Tom and how he found stories right here in Canada,” Newton said. “I love Canadian country music and I try to keep my music Canadian — I really don’t see why every country song has to have an American city in it. We have our own stories to tell here, and I love to just be able to tell them.”
What she hopes most as an artist, is that her songs resonate with people.
“I hope people can listen to my music and say, ‘that’s my story,’ or, ‘I know exactly what she means.’ ‘And in some cases, to know that they’re not alone’,” she said. “I think the biggest achievement has to be when someone tells you how much your song means to them and how they can relate to it.
“I want to make music that makes people feel better. That’s really what it’s all about.”
COVID-19 gave Newton the time to record de- spite her busy young family.
“Trying to find a balance is the hardest part, but this COVID break has allowed me the time to make some more music without missing out on any of the kids’ activities,” she said. “Everyone has a ‘thing’ and music is mine.”
While music is her passion, she realizes that it is not her living. Not that she’s sorry at all; along with music, farming has been an integral part of her life.
“It’s a tough one and that’s why I keep my day job — (music) is not paying the farm bills,” she said with a wry laugh. “As an independent artist with a limited budget, you just can’t compete with the big guys so I don’t try to. I just make my music and those who like it will listen, and those who don’t, won’t. Those who like it don’t mind paying for it — they appreciate the investment that artists make in both time and money.
“I’m very appreciative of the support local radio has given me,” she said. “The response with listeners has been extremely positive, especially with the single, ‘Real Life Reality.’”
The EP is available on all streaming platforms or on CD by contacting Corinne at [email protected] or through her website at corinnenewton.ca. You can listen to sample tracks at corinnenewton.hearnow.com.
Corinne Newton, formerly of Strathclair, released the album ‘Real Life Reality’ in March.