An acclaimed musician with a reputation for writing from the heart, Bobby Wills (MDM Recordings Inc. / Universal Music Canada) is best known for two things – his signature cowboy hat and a diverse musical personality, combining a classic country sound with a toe-tapping, dynamic twist. His passion for writing songs was once again acknowledged, receiving his second consecutive Canadian Country Music Association® (CCMA®) Award™ 2016 nomination for Songwriter of the Year. A consecutive 2013 – 2014 CCMA Award Male Artist of the Year nominee, Wills was also nominated in 3 categories for the 2016 CCMA Awards.
His latest album, 2016 CCMA Award Album of the Year nominee, is a 6-track EP titled Tougher Than Love (release date: March 18, 2016). This is the 4th album in Wills’ vast discography, featuring two top 10 singles, “Down By The River” and “Won’t You Be Mine”. Exploring his diverse musicality, the EP blends a classic country sound with a modern edge, complemented by his signature emotive, relatable lyrics. Wills recently released his third single and respective video for the title track “Tougher Than Love” to Canadian country radio this past fall. As of December 5th, 2016 Wills was the 3rd Top Charting Canadian on the BDS Country charts. More over, on the 2016 Top 50 Year End Canadian Country Chart, he was #22 with “Won’t You Be Mine.” That same single was also featured on Now! Country 11.
Shares Wills, “With this album I feel I have evolved as an artist to a place of, well, comfort. The making of this album was fun, with a capital F. The album organically evolved, and the creative process was intoxicating. We experimented with various sounds and incorporated varied instrumentation; it was an incredible experience to create and record this album!”
Featuring arguably the most diverse collection of songs he has recorded to date, the EP Tougher Than Love encapsulates a happiness-fuelled musical experience. Shares Wills, “Prior to the EP release, we performed the new music throughout 2015, and the fans’ response to it was infectious – it was the best response to new material I have ever experienced! Honestly, I don’t know what was more fun, making the EP, or performing it live!” The track listing engages the listener through the juxtaposition of the traditional country sound found in “You Lost Me There” featuring lap steel guitar, Wills’ deep vocals and smooth violin, to the fast tempo, good-vibes of “Down By The River,” featuring an intense electric guitar solo and Wills’ raw vocals. This single shot up the charts; Wills achieved the 9th top charting Canadian position on the BDS Country chart (as of May 30th, 2016), and the official video was also released on CMT.
His current single, “Tougher Than Love” speaks to Wills’ belief in the power of the underdog – a devote champion of those who defy the odds. Wills shares, “Love is the baseline of all relationships. It carries us through the good and bad moments in life, helping us make informed decisions. There is nothing more important in the world than love, and coming from a good place to inform your decisions, even when those decisions may be the hardest road to take.” He continues, “The tracks resonate with me, not only as an artist, but as a music lover as well. This album is about simply enjoying the music and sharing that joy with my amazing fans!”
A seasoned performer, he continued to tour throughout 2016, including performances at Country Thunder (in Calgary, AB) and Cavendish. When asked what is his favourite moment on stage, with a twinkle in his eye Wills replies, “The rush of the first count. Nothing in the world is as exhilarating as the first downbeat of a show.”
A committed philanthropist, as part of the 2nd annual Oh Canada Cocktail Party to benefit the Friends of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (in Winnipeg, MB, Canada), Wills performed during the 2014 Golden Globe® Awards weekend in Los Angeles on the stunning Roof Garden of the exclusive The Peninsula Beverly Hills. Human rights activist/producer/director Kweku Mandela, a grandson of the late South African activist and former president Nelson Mandela, joined actress/comedienne Catherine O’Hara and comedian/director David Steinberg on the host committee for the new national museum in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Wills donated all proceeds from iTunes downloads worldwide (between January 2014 through December 2015) of his hit single “Show Some Respect”; with 50% of the proceeds donated to the Canadian Museum of Human Rights and 50% donated to the Shoah Foundation.
A FASCINATING JOURNEY TO A MUSICAL FUTURE…
Some people are born with a special talent, perhaps even a musical soul. Adopted as a baby to a family in Calgary, AB, no one knew what an impact his biological DNA would have on his life path. “My dad was a huge country music fan,” he says of the man who raised him, “so that’s where I get my love of it from, but no one ever played music in my family when I was growing up.”
Following a spontaneous dare while traveling in Australia, and an unexpected phone call, the course of Wills’ life would literally change forever. “We were at an open mic night and my buddy bet me $20 that I wouldn’t get up and sing with the band, so I did,” Wills says of the Australian trip. “I sang “The Dance” by Garth Brooks and there was a reaction from the crowd that I didn’t anticipate. It was amazing. I’d always poked around music but I’d never put any real effort into it, so I started to learn to play guitar while I was over there.”
Returning from his world travels, he received a call from the adoption registry learning his biological mother had registered to request contact (as had he), quickly resulting in their first meeting. Wills could not have anticipated the artistic genealogy he was about to discover, including five siblings and a musical streak a mile wide that ran throughout his biological family. “The first night I visited my biological father, we sat up all night listening to records. We both shared an affinity for a great lyric, and it was then that I realized ‘this is real. This is in my blood. This isn’t just a crazy dream I had; this is part of who I am.’ It really crystallized for me then. This journey solidified my love of music and aspiring passion to pursue this love on a professional level.”
While he got to know his new family Wills also started pursuing music more seriously, performing at open mic nights, touring Canada playing country music in a bar band, and preparing to record demos in Toronto with Juno-nominated country artist Thomas Wade. In keeping with his commitment to playing and writing country music he started splitting time between (his home base) Calgary and Nashville. Falling in love with music, he invested years in perfecting his craft and released his debut album Man With No Past in 2010. He also received wide acclaim throughout the 2013 country music awards season with the release of his second album If It Was That Easy (2012); an album which included two top 10 hits, CCMA Award Single of the Year nominated “Show Some Respect” (which peaked at #8 on the BDS charts) and “Somebody Will” (which peaked at #9 on the BDS charts).