Winning her third Juno Award at age 43 means something different to Terri Clark than getting her first one at the start of her country music career 17 years ago.
“Some people win Junos like they’re coming out of their ears. But for me, it’s been a little more elusive,” said Clark, who performs on Saturday, July 21, at Red Deer’s Westerner Days fair. Clark has had 14 nominations over the course of a career that started with the 1995 break-out hit Better Things to Do, but just three wins, including the 2012 Country Album of the Year for her release Roots and Wings.
While receiving any kind of Juno is like getting “a pat on the back from your peers,” Clark believes being honoured with a mid-career award says something about her staying power in an industry that often looks for the next young thing.
“To have that kind of longevity is very rare,” said the singer. “I’m not taking anything for granted . . . I feel very lucky to have sustained that.”
Gaining the recognition for Roots and Wings is especially gratifying, because of the recording’s personal theme. “It’s about where I’m from,” said Montreal-born Clark, who grew up in Medicine Hat and now spends part of the year in Nashville.
The tune Northern Girl is about being shaped by a cold climate “where we have to figure out what to do with ourselves for nine months of the year.”
There are also some fun songs, such as a cover of Trooper’s We’re Here for a Good Time.
But Clark believes Smile is the heart of the album. The song was written for her mom, Linda, who died in April 2010 after a three-year battle with cancer.
The singer has described how emotionally difficult the lyrics were to perform: “I had to sit in a room and sing (it), many, many times by myself, without any human beings around, to be able to get through it.”
But the tune about her mom’s encouragement has touched many fans. And Clark is glad she was able to turn a sweet but painful memory into something so relatable to others.
Not all the songs she writes are as personal. Clark said she isn’t so “conceited” as to write only about herself, “but I feel like I write from a sincere place, from a gut level or feeling” that people connect with.
After making such a introspective album, doing a recording of covers appears to be the next challenge for Clark. She’s about to go into the studio to record standards that will be sung as duets with other country singers.
“I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag too early,” she said.
“Let’s just say there’s a Canadian icon, an American country icon, and a couple of people who are really young and hot on both sides of the border. In fact, I’m probably the lowest man on the totem pole. If this was a concert, I’d be opening for all of these people!”
Clark’s 8:30 p.m. concert at the Centrium is free to fairgoers. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. and seating is on a first-come basis.