A singer who is scheduled to hit the Festival Place stage has a story to share.
John Wort Hannam will be performing at the venue on Saturday, Oct. 10, where he will be releasing his newest album called Love Lives On.
He said he has always had a desire to perform and knew he always wanted to sing and write songs.
“I just wanted to give it a crack,” Hannam said. “I started going to open stages and I guess I had an ‘ah-ha’ moment at one of those times. The first time I went to the Lethbridge Folk Club and sang a couple of songs... and the director of the club came up to me and he said ‘We are having this end–of–the–year gala night next week, if you wanted to come back and sing one of those songs, I’ll pay you $50.’ Then after that, it just kind of grew. There doesn’t even feel like there was a start time, it just sort of happened.”
He added that he released his first record in 2003 and has been touring full-time since 2004.
Hannam has a new song on his album also called “Love Lives On” and it is about a real life experience of when Hannam was walking his son to the post office in Fort Macleod, Alta and noticed a freshly-laid sidewalk.
“My son and I went to grab a stick, we moved some tape, and some pylons and we wrote ‘Charlie and dad’ in the cement,” he said. “I started thinking about why we do that? Why do we stick our hands in cement and carve our names in it? We are on this earth for a very short amount of time and when we love a town or a house or we love a person, I want people who come after us to know that we were here.
“I have renovated my house and every time I tear down something, I write a little note.”
Hannam continued: “I drop it down inside the wall because I know some of these houses will be knocked down some day,” he added. “I know somebody is going to find my notes and I want them to know that this is who we were, these are the years we were here, we sat by that fireplace and warmed ourselves, and we dreamt in these bedrooms.”
Hannam taught junior high on the native reserves in southern Alberta for six years and he wrote a song called “Man of God”, which was recognized by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and is a track that sees the one-time school teacher on the Kainai Blackfoot reserve tackling the legacy of residential schools.
“It is getting a lot of attention and I think part of the problem is that it has been an ‘us and them’ kind of thing going on in Canada, ever since European contact,” Hannam said. “The First Nations people live in our community, beside our communities and I wanted to sing about that, just making it known that there are non–native people who really care about issues and this sort of dark chapter of Canadian history where children were taken away from their homes and put into institutions.”
He said he has a root sound, which is a combination of acoustic, folk, old country, western and contemporary. He said he tries to write about real people and things that influence him, like a landscape or character he meets in town.
Hannam feels differently about this record because for the first time, he feels comfortable singing about himself, which is something he hasn’t done often.
“It gives more insight into me as a person, not just as a song writer,” he said. “Even the opening track ‘Woah, Woah, Woah’ is about a classic song of being on the road and sort of the struggles of maintaining relationships and keeping a straight path and keeping the little dream alive, but also being a good person and being a good dad and husband.”
“I love to sing, so anytime I can do that is great and I’m really happy when a song connects with somebody,” Hannam said. “Every now and then, I get e-mails from people saying, ‘I loved this song, it helped me get through a hard time,’ or, ‘Thanks for this song it reminds me of my dad’... it gives me a little message to keep going.”