Tenille Townes: Thing That Brought Me Here Tour

Country 99 is excited to welcome the Tenille Townes: Thing That Brought Me Here Tour to Burton Cummings Theatre on November 13th, 2024!

Tickets go on sale Friday, March 22 at 10am via Ticketmaster.

For Tenille Townes, writing songs is a way of reaching out to anyone longing to make sense of a wildly confusing world. In the last five years alone, the Canada-born artist’s full-hearted and soul-searching songwriting has led to such milestones as touring with legends like Stevie Nicks, Miranda Lambert and Shania Twain and taking home two JUNO Awards —all while building up a globe-spanning fanbase irresistibly drawn to her intensely honest storytelling. With her many accolades also including 17 Canadian Country Music Association Awards and two Academy Of Country Music Awards, the Nashville-based rising star now begins a bold new chapter with her most fully realized work to date: a gorgeously sculpted batch of songs that bring a moodier and more unfettered sound to her compassionate lyrical outpouring.

“What I love about making music is the potential for my songs to meet people right where they are, but then leave them feeling a little bit more seen and lifted-up than they were before,” says Townes. “I feel like it’s my job to make sure people come away with some sense of hope, even if it’s just the comfort of knowing that someone else out there feels the same way they do.”

The first offering from Townes’ latest body of work, “As You Are” strays sonically from past hits like her gold-certified, chart-topping smash “Somebody’s Daughter” and leans toward a more spacious and hypnotic breed of Americana. In composing the track’s gauzy guitar tones and shapeshifting textures, Townes headed to the Seattle area to collaborate with producer/engineer Ryan Hadlock—a Grammy nominee known for his work with Brandi Carlile, The Lumineers, and seminal alt-rock acts like Blonde Redhead and The Afghan Whigs. “I’d been feeling the need to explore a new sonic direction, something that would hold space for real vulnerability but also allow for more of the indie-rock edge that my band and I organically bring to our shows,” says Townes. Written by Townes, Maggie Chapman (The Highwomen, Wafia) and David Pramik (Joy Oladokun, LANY), “As You Are” ultimately matches its mesmerizing sound with a tender meditation on shame, acceptance, and unconditional love. “The whole time we were working on that song I was thinking about the idea of loving all the parts of someone, especially the parts they’re scared to show to the world,” says Townes. “When I listened back later, it hit me that on a much deeper level I’d written exactly what I’d want to hear when I’m struggling and putting up walls: someone to tell me, ‘Hey, you’re good just as you are. Don’t change a thing.’”

A stunning showcase for her raw yet nuanced vocal work, “As You Are” expands on the boundless generosity of spirit Townes has brought to her songs from the very start. As a little girl growing up in Grande Prairie, Alberta, she first fell in love with music thanks to the eclectic mix of artists her parents played at home (“A lot of Dolly Parton and U2, and whatever else they were controlling the stereo with”), then discovered her passion for songwriting at age 14. “My grandparents gave me a guitar and I started learning the chords I needed to make songs out of what I was writing in my journal,” she recalls, naming singer/songwriters like Patty Griffin and Lori McKenna among her enduring influences. “It was so liberating to take all the things I had a hard time saying out loud and put them into a song—it felt like I’d found a much easier form of communication.”

As she sharpened her craft by playing everywhere from fundraisers to hockey games in her hometown, Townes decided to forgo college and pursue a career in music despite her parents’ apprehension. To prove her dedication to her chosen path, she then organized, booked, and secured sponsors for a 32-week-long tour in which she traveled across Canada in a motor home and performed in middle-school and high-school gymnasiums. “I’m a Malcolm Gladwell fan, so I gave my parents my 10,000 hours pitch for why it made sense for me to do the crazy music thing instead of going to school,” she says. “After I finished the tour, my dad drove the 47 hours with me to Nashville and I moved into a little garage apartment, far away from everyone I knew. It was the loneliest time in my life, but it helped me to find my voice in a whole new way.”

During her first few years in Nashville, Townes devoted herself to writing and recording demos spotlighting her radiant voice and endlessly empathetic lyrics. When one of those demos caught the attention of Sony Music Nashville, she inked a deal with the label and set to work on her debut album, The Lemonade Stand—a 2020 LP that delivered standouts like “Jersey on The Wall (I’m Just Asking),” a profoundly moving track inspired by Townes’ experience in performing at a New Brunswick high school and learning of a then-recent car crash that took the life of the star of the school’s basketball team. Thanks to the massive success of “Jersey on The Wall” and “Somebody’s Daughter” (a song that tells the imagined backstory of an unhoused girl Townes encountered in Nashville), she soon emerged as the first female artist in Mediabase Canada history to score two No. 1 singles, adding to a fast-growing list of triumphs that also included The Lemonade Stand’s winning Country Album of the Year at the 2021 JUNO Awards. Townes seized that coveted prize again with 2022’s Masquerades, a seven-song project revealing her more introspective side on hits like “When’s It Gonna Happen” and its candid account of the aching frustration that sometimes accompanies single life. Later in 2022, she headed overseas and toured all over Europe and the UK, hit the road with country icon George Strait, and capped off the year by embarking on a train trip across Southern Canada—a 3,000-mile trek in which she played 65 shows in 15 days in support of local food banks. The following April, Townes returned with Train Track Worktapes: an EP mostly made up of songs written on the journey and recorded in the train’s caboose.

When it came time to record “As You Are” and its follow-up singles, Townes spent 10 days at Bear Creek Studios in Washington, where she and Hadlock immersed themselves in dreaming up a sonic backdrop suited to the unhurried contemplation of her lyrics. “Throughout the whole process of working with Ryan I felt more free than I ever had in the studio,” she says. “Instead of trying to fit everything into a specific sound, we let the production breathe and focused on supporting the narrative and the emotion of the song as a whole.” Featuring Townes on acoustic guitar and Hadlock on Moog synth, “As You Are” came to life in collaboration with musicians like cellist Josh Neumann (Joni Mitchell, The Secret Sisters), drummer/percussionist William Mapp (Zach Bryan, Courtney Marie Andrews), and bass violinist Kimo Muraki (Vance Joy, The Strumbellas), all of whom helped shape the track’s sparse but spellbinding soundscape. “‘As You Are’ came from Ryan telling me to play the song the same way I would if I was just sitting in the living room with some friends,” says Townes. “I pulled out my acoustic and he ran it through an amp with a lot of distortion coming from it—it felt like it sort of put a leather jacket on the song, and added some grit to a very simple emotional statement. And that’s exactly what I was looking for.”

By embracing a more stripped-back and free-flowing sound than she’d ever attempted before, Townes has exponentially magnified the intimacy of her music—an element that’s especially abundant in her live performance. “I think a lot of people come to see me for the more emotional songs, but we also love to have those moments that feel like an explosion of joy, where everyone can have fun and stomp around and forget about everything else for a while,” says Townes, who’s now toured with Keith Urban, Reba, Zac Brown Band, and Dierks Bentley. Referring to her live show as a “safe space where everyone can be whoever they are,” Townes is quick to note that the most rewarding moments often occur at the end of the night, when she gets to interact with her fans one-on-one. “To me, the greatest measure of success is the stories that people share with me about how my songs have affected them,” she says. “It just proves how powerful music can be—there can be a door inside you that’s closed for a long time, and then you hear a song that cracks it open a bit, and all of a sudden there’s light coming in. It’s always a reminder to keep creating what feels true to me, so that hopefully it’ll end up making other people feel more understood.”