Canada's Cheryl Dunn
She has wowed Canada with
her musical ability since she was twelve years old, topped the charts in
the UK and Australia and toured the Caribbean. Fresh off her nomination
for a Covenant Award (Canada's Dove Awards), Cheryl Dunn will be tackling
Texas in December and planning a full scale tour of the United States in
the spring of 2006. She is finally bowing to the pressure to make the journey
south of the 49th parallel after being coaxed, prodded and courted by the
music industry for several years.
Dunn is the consummate country
music performer, waxing eloquent when she speaks, singing her ballads with
gusto and leading audiences through the chorus of her fun and frolicking
tune "Let Go" from the album of the same name. The song was written by
producer Carmon Barry, who is a double nominee for a Covenant both in the
Producer of the Year and Song of the Year categories. Let Go the album
is nominated for Country / Bluegrass Album of the year but is in tough
as country star Paul Brandt finds himself nominated in the same category.
Grateful for her success
on the country music scene, Dunn is quick to point out that any good fortune
she has enjoyed is a direct result of God's intervention. If you don't
do your homework before speaking to Cheryl, you might miss out on some
interesting insights to her career that I had to coax from her such as
why she has been so well received in the UK. "I don't know why, I
really don't. We released a song, "My Rock," and it stayed there (on the
charts) for a long time--two months. It was so well received." She finally
admits, "When I get my tracking reports (for airplay) in, I get reports
from Australia, Spain and all over the UK. I got an inquiry from a fellow
in Japan who would like me to come over and do a tour there. Australia
is a big one for me."
"I met a fellow in Banff
Alberta who said to me, 'You are Cheryl Dunn.' I said yes, I am. He said,
'They play your music in Australia and I know exactly who you are.' It's
The summer of 2005 was busy
for Dunn as she crossed the ocean to tour Scotland singing in Aberdeenshire,
Inverness, Glasgow, and Lochgelly, to name just a few of the cities. She
says of the experience, "It was great. We went for a gospel music convention
and the people were fantastic. You will not get treated any better. They
bless the socks off of you. It was just incredible." The average crowds
were in the neighborhood of 3,000 people.
Dunn also spent five weeks
this past summer touring Northern Ontario and western Canada. The highlight
was the Big Valley Jamboree, an annual country music festival that in the
past two years has hosted top drawer country stars such as Reba McEntire,
Pam Tillis, Clint Black, Clay Walker and Ricky Scaggs. Singing before crowds
as large as 50,000 people, she punctuates her conversation with superlatives,
"It was a pretty big thing for a gospel artist to be able to get in there.
I was looking forward to it and it was really fantastic."
"I find now that my name
is getting around, we pull in such a huge crowd. People are actually saying,
'I know who Cheryl Dunn is, let's go to that concert.' We've been out west
four times where we have packed houses. We have been to the east
coast and packed houses out. It just seems to work every place that
we have gone," she says in her down home friendly manner that will endear
her to those in the southern United States.
Despite her success, life
hasn't always been easy or kind to this native of Port Hope Ontario. She
left the music industry at age 18 jaded and disillusioned. Not unlike other
childhood prodigies, she found herself burned out at an early age. Playing
in bars and honkytonks got to her, "I had just had enough. There was never
a moment when I just got to be a kid. I was just so sick and tired of people
having to get drunk. I was just fed up with people and their lifestyles.
I couldn't handle it. It was just so lonely. I didn't have any friends
because I was gone every single weekend. I burned out as time went on."
When they (the band) stopped
to have a few beers, we would go into the car and have some pop. This was
our whole lifestyle. I never got to see my graduation. I never got to see
any kind of sports or anything like that. As time went on, I felt so empty.
I kept thinking there has got to be more to life than this. Even at Christmas
parties, husbands and wives would come in and look happy together but by
the time the evening was over, the guy would have his shirttail out and
the wife would be all tousled and I was just sick and tired of it. I just
said I had enough and walked away. I sold everything I had including my
guitar. I never looked back and I never missed it either for the longest
Fast forward many years
and Dunn, now married to husband Jim, with four children in tow, is a committed
Christian. Her music career is a distant image in the rear view mirror
of life. A women's ministry event was being planned at the church she attended.
At the urging of a friend and over Cheryl's many objections, she was convinced
to sing just one song for the occasion.
Gifted as a story teller,
she helps you feel a part of the story as she relives it, "I went to that
women's ministry event scared out of my wits, standing in front of those
women. I closed my eyes, held the microphone against my chest and I shook
like a leaf. I was scared to death but my girlfriend Eleanor, she pushed
me on. She was the one who inspired me. She said to me, 'God gave you a
gift, Cheryl, you get out there and use it.' Despite the fact Dunn
says it took her several years to regain her confide nce, she never looked
In the mid 'nineties, not
long after Cheryl and her husband Jim had given their hearts to the Lord,
they were faced with another challenge as Jim was diagnosed with cancer.
"At the time, it changed our lives drastically because when you are going
through such a tough time, you know you have nowhere else to turn. You
have no finances, no house, no stuff, you know nothing can change the situation
but God. At that point in time when there is just nothing left, God took
us through that whole process," she remembers. She then adds, "Sometimes
you take life for granted. Jim is well now and he is doing great."
Her song "You Can Reach
Me" echoes those sentiments. "Sometimes you go through life and say, 'Where
is God in the midst of all of this?' Then you realize that He will never
leave us or forsake us," she says. Just like the words to her song "Let
Go" remind us:
God's got a big
In Canada, Cheryl Dunn's music
is distributed nationally through Christian bookstores. You can also
listen to audio clips and order her music online through her website <http://www.cheryldunn.com/>www.cheryldunn.com
May include some things
you don't understand.
Step aside let the Lord
do the leading,
Something new you will
If you're holding on
Squeezing hard with all
By Joe Montague, exclusive
Joe Montague is an internationally
published journalist / photographer. His ministry is dedicated to the memory
of his late son Kent David Montague who went to heaven at the age of 18.
All copyright and distribution rights remain the property of Joe Montague.