Johnny Reid's recipe for success: family, hope, no yes-men
Published Thursday, March 8, 2012 9:35AM EST
As singer-songwriter Johnny Reid was about to head off the 2011 Juno Awards in Toronto last year, his oldest son, Justin, asked him a question.
"Dad, where you off to?" the boy inquired.
Reid filled in the details on the Canadian music industry's premiere award show for the child.
"What are you up for?" the youngster, then nine-years-old, asked again.
Reid listed his nominations and his formidable opponents for Artist of the Year, which included Neil Young, Drake and Justin Bieber.
"You're up against Justin Bieber?" the boy stopped. "Well, good luck with that one."
That kind of honesty might bruise some egos, but as Canada AM's Beverly Thomson discovered recently, the Scottish-born, Canadian-raised star counts on such truthfulness to keep him grounded in life.
"You have to make sure that you surround yourself with people that tell you the truth," Reid said with his wife, Jennifer Reid, by his side for the exclusive interview on their 54-acre estate in Leiper's Fork, Tenn -- a small, woodsy hamlet outside of Nashville.
"If you've got a piece of lettuce in your tooth there's no point surrounding yourself with people who just want to tell you ‘yes' and ‘you're the best,'" Reid said, with his broad smile and Scottish accent framing his words.
"Through the years, I've really been able to surround myself with people that treat people the way the way want to be treated and keep me grounded. If I were ever to get a bit ahead of myself they'd kick my feet in the ground pretty quick," he said.
Reid, 37, has plenty of reasons to boast if he wanted to -- especially in recent years.
In the past six years, Reid has won two Junos and 22 Country Music Awards.
His soulful blend of country, pop, rock and blues has helped sell more than one million albums and sell out concerts from coast to coast. Those numbers are likely to escalate as Reid releases his new album "Fire It Up" on March 12 and launches his next cross-country tour.
The "Fire It Up, Let Love Live Again" Tour begins on April 10 in Victoria, B.C. and will wrap on May 19 in St. John's, NL.
"It's a cycle that happens every year-and-a-half. I pack my bags and I hit the road and I go take the music to the people," said Reid.
What that means, exactly, to his four children, Justin (10), Tyler (9), Dylan (5) and Ava (2), hasn't quite sunk in according to their mother.
"They know dad's leaving, but I don't think they have the concept of time yet. Even when he's gone two weeks, three weeks, it doesn't have a huge relevance to them," said Jennifer Reid.
Yet life on the road is far less removed from his family as it was in 1997, when Reid launched his career with his debut album, "Another Day, Another Dime."
Thanks to Skype, Reid checks in daily with his wife and kids. He catches glimpses of the beautiful forests surrounding their home, and remembers the quiet and serenity there that restores and inspires him.
Teaching his children to chase their dreams
Still, the chance to connect with fans and share his music remains one of Reid's greatest joys.
That joyousness is what Reid brings to the buoyant, spirit-lifting album "Fire It Up," which he produced.
"You know, life is very short. I think we're reminded of this every day," said Reid.
"This record is very important with time and understanding how valuable time is," he explained.
Reid painstakingly edited the songs for this adult-contemporary album, removing tunes that detracted from his message of joy.
"I really want people to have a wonderful experience of happiness and a feel-good record. A record of inspiration and dedication, you know? These kinds of messages," said Reid.
Such hopefulness is part of Reid's DNA, as his fans well know.
Reid moved to Canada from Scotland at the age of 14 with his family to find a better life.
"I remember my mother hammering towels on the window just because we sold everything to come to Canada," said Reid.
After attending Bishop's University in Lennoxville, Que., where he met his wife, Reid spent years working small venues until real stardom found him with the 2007 album, "Kicking Stones."
That record went platinum, as did the 2009 follow-up "Dance with Me."
"It's an amazing story. An amazing journey. We wouldn't be here if it weren't for the people in Canada," said Reid.
From the concert stages around the world to the quiet little spot on his estate where he watches the deer and unwinds, Reid is the first person to admit that he is living the dream.
"I feel blessed every day, teaching my kids that it's okay to chase your goals in life," he said.