Canadian country singer Tebey comes full circle

Canadian country singer Tebey spent a decade following his 2003 hit We Shook Hands (Man to Man) writing songs for a string of other artists.

Canadian country singer Tebey spent a decade following his 2003 hit We Shook Hands (Man to Man) writing songs for a string of other artists.

Among them are One Direction, Cher, Doc Walker, Chad Brownlee, Jimmy Rankin, Jason Blaine, Aaron Pritchett and Shane Yellowbird.

Several catchy Tebey tunes even became radio hits for others: Run for Rex Goudie, Let’s Go and Nobody Does It Like You for Shawn Desman, and When I See You Again, With You and Sleep It Off for Emerson Drive.

After watching singers of all genres (even rap star Flo Rida, who recorded on Tebey’s Cause a Scene with Teairra Mari) take his songs and run with them, the Ontario native decided to step back on stage to give his own singing career a serious go.

It’s not that Tebey — who performs on Saturday, March 8, at the International Beer Haus and Stage in Red Deer — wasn’t gratified being a successful Nashville songwriter.

He said coming up with new, original tunes for BMG Music actually provided him with some pretty cool experiences.

For instance, he was in the studio helping One Direction with vocal production when the swoon-inducing boy group recorded his songs They Don’t Know About Us and Loved You First for what was to become a six-million-selling album, Take Me Home.

(The love targets for ’tween girls are actually nice young men, Tebey affirmed. “People ask, ‘What were they really like?’ and I say they were great.”)

Tebey also saw his song All About Tonight, recorded by English singer Pixie Lott, rocket to the No. 1 spot on the U.K. pop charts.

But the 30-year-old eventually began feeling there was a side of himself, beyond songwriting, that wasn’t being tapped.

“It’s all Emerson Drive’s fault,” he recalled with a chuckle.

Tebey was invited to go on the road with his musician friends. While watching the group perform from the sidelines, something ignited in him.

“I got the itch to go out on stage again.”

But it had been years since he’d put himself in the spotlight.

Tebey, who is named Tebey Solomon Ottoh, grew up singing in church in Burlington, Ont., as his mom accompanied him on the piano.

He later grabbed attention for winning the Canadian Open Country Singing Contest four times in the Under-14 and Under-18 categories.

At age 15, he signed a development deal with a major U.S. record label and moved with his father, a Nigerian-born electronics engineer, to Nashville, while his mom remained in Canada with the rest of his siblings.

Tebey was only 19 when his We Shook Hands single became a Top-5 Canadian hit. But when the song only rose to No. 47 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country chart, the American label cut ties with Tebey and failed to release his debut album.

He returned to Canada disillusioned. “It’s a crazy business but it made me stronger,” recalled the singer, who refocused his energies on songwriting.

Although it took him nine more years, Tebey finally stepped behind the microphone to release his first album in 2012. It was aptly named The Wait, and produced the popular single Somewhere in the Country.

He’s following up with a second full-length release, Two. It won’t be out until next month but has already yielded Top 10 Canadian country singles: Till It’s Gone and Wake Me Up, a fast-rising countrified cover of the Avicci hit.

The songwriter said he doesn’t care that this song isn’t his — a good tune is a good tune. “I heard the bluegrass in that melody and I thought it would be great to record it as a country song for country fans.”

Oddly enough, while Tebey writes in multiple musical genres, he’s never thought of himself as anything other than a country singer.

“My parents listened to country. … (While) I have eclectic taste in music, singing in country has always felt like the right fit to me,” he said.

The married performer looks forward to his first headlining tour in Canada, which starts in Winnipeg and finishes in Red Deer.

“I’m a dual citizen, but my allegiance is always with Canada,” added Tebey, who cheered for the Canadian hockey team during the recent Olympics.

“I miss being home and the Canadian ways … (and things like) Tim Hortons and Aero chocolate bars. …”

Tebey performs in Red Deer with special guest Mackenzie Porter Robinson. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 from the International Beer Haus and Stage.

For more information, call 403-986-5008.

Just Posted

Get your guilty pleasures: Westerner Days food

Traditional sugary treats were served up by the plate, bowl and bucket… Continue reading

Count shows slight decrease in Red Deer’s homeless

In two years, the number of homeless in Red Deer has decreased… Continue reading

Redoing hip surgeries are costly, says new study

Redoing hip and knee replacements costs Canada’s health system $130 million a… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer gets a taste of unique, fun chilis at cook off

From deer meat to Grand Marnier to raspberry jam everyone at the… Continue reading

Walk to raise overdose awareness

Leah’s Light registration deadline July 25

WATCH: Cirque ZUMA ZUMA puts on a show at Westerner Days

ZUMA ZUMA performs three times a day during Westerner Days

Brazilian police arrest ‘Dr. Bumbum’ after patient dies

RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazilian police have arrested celebrated plastic surgeon Denis… Continue reading

Canadian marijuana company Tilray has first US pot IPO

SEATTLE — A Canadian company is the first marijuana business to complete… Continue reading

Dolphins anthem punishment includes suspensions

Miami Dolphins players who protest on the field during the national anthem… Continue reading

Soy “milk” makers may need to find alternative description

NEW YORK — Soy and almond drinks that bill themselves as “milk”… Continue reading

Calgary woman convicted in son’s strep death granted day parole

CALGARY — A woman whose son died after she failed to take… Continue reading

Greenpeace members arrested for climbing Olympic Stadium tower in Montreal

MONTREAL — Several Greenpeace members climbed the outside of the Olympic Stadium… Continue reading

B.C.’s Site C dam project behind schedule, plagued by problems: expert

British Columbia’s mammoth Site C hydro-electric project is seriously behind schedule, plagued… Continue reading

Charges laid against woman found in Innisfail hotel room with eight dogs

A woman faces 12 charges after eight dogs were seized from an… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month