Updated: Dec 26, 2020
by Scott Roos
“When I was younger I always say that it was either Shania Twain or Brittany Spears that was on or that I was singing to or watching on TV. Hillary Duff was my first ever concert. So I mean I just loved all those kinds of teen idols that were doing the pop sound thing,” muses Prince Albert born country singer Katelyn Lehner.
The two of us are sitting on a bench in scenic Little Red River park chatting about music and about life. It’s a sunny day but the Autumn winds are blowing gently. The park is bustling with activity but that hasn’t stopped this exciting artist from sharing her story.
By industry standards, Lehner is a newcomer to the Saskatchewan country music scene having recently released her debut single “Red”. She’s by far what you would call a rookie, however, as I find out over the course of our short chat. A trained RCM vocalist from age three and an artist that is a veteran of singing and talent competitions across the province, Lehner has a keen understanding of the music business that belies her youthful exterior. It was only her career as a bonafide university track star that has kept her from making that proverbial splash. That is until now.
“After a performance in Saskatoon, Johnny Sinclair was in the audience and so I got contacted by (Johnny Sinclair and Leslie Stanwyck of Tucker Lane and former Pursuit of Happiness fame) afterwards. We had met (before) at a Saskatchewan Country Music Association meeting and so they asked me if I had my own songs and if I write and I said yes and we looked into some cowriting and so I started showing them some of the songs I had,” Lehner continues, “‘Red’ was one of them that I showed them and they both liked it and thought they could see potential in it so Leslie (Stanwyck) put her own little spin on it and tied it up nicely and made it really come to life.”
There’s an understated simplicity to “Red”. It’s not a song that showcases Lehner’s vocal prowess as much as it does her songwriting skills. It’s playful, flirtatious and focuses on “telling the story” more than anything else.
“I’m kind of in my mid (vocal) range and I do feel like I am more so just storytelling. Personally, I think that (‘Red’ is) a very visual and storytelling piece so I think that’s enough to carry the song through rather than do a bunch of fancy little vocal tricks all through it,” says Lehner.
That being said, she does get a chance to shine vocally near the end of the track.
“I feel like lots of the songs I’m kind of drawn to usually have those kind of like big vocal pieces so I’m very happy on the very end of ‘Red’ how I can do some fun little vocal runs in the background,” says Lehner.
In terms of what inspires Lehner when she writes, that process is always a work in progress. Much like Lehner the athlete, Lehner the songwriter is constantly practicing and honing her craft.
“I get a lot of inspiration listening to other artists and other music out there and specifically other singer songwriters and how they write. I think it’s interesting to look at how other people tell stories and how they keep a song interesting melodically through doing that or how they put little spins with their lyrics or things like that. It’s thought provoking,” says Lehner.
“Songwriting is art,” continues Lehner, “You can continually be adding pieces and changing things. It gets to a point where it feels right. I think that’s usually a good point when I can say 'okay this is done' and then take it into the studio and whoever you’re working with if they have ideas to add into things usually that’s where some extra collaborative work comes in.”
In short, Lehner, with “Red” has demonstrated that there is yet another fresh face and fresh take in the already talent rich Saskatchewan country music scene. With other youthful artists like Tenille Arts, Karissa Hoffart and Shantaia paving the way the path is clear for Lehner and she indeed has an exciting future ahead of her.
- photos by Deanna Roos of Contingent Colours Photography