14 Nov

For Toronto-based Jack Connolly, the belief in the power of music has been
one of the most persistent of his life.

The fine balance between masterfully orchestrated instrumentals and lovingly
crafted lyrics holds a power that can’t simply be ignored. It has the
ability to change the lives of the people who listen and even the people who
play it. It’s a power that Connolly has been familiar with since he was a
child, where he listened to records at home. To him, the ritual of turning
on the record player, putting down the needle, and sitting down to listen to
the likes of Elvis Presley, Leonard Cohen, Valdy & Bruce Springsteen held a
kind of magic for the BC native. It was the desire to be closer to that
magic, and perhaps even be a part of it, that inspired him to pursue a
career in music.

As soon as he felt ready, Jack started a band and began playing in coffee
houses on Vancouver Island, recording his first album, Open Stage, in 2001
at the age of 15. His second album, 2004’s The Empty Café brought forth
critical acclaim and the title of Songwriter of the Year at the Vancouver
Island Music Awards. Ever persistent and never liking to get too comfortable
with staying in the same place musically, Jack went on to be a regular at
folk festivals and local venues, often sharing the stage and earning praise
from such distinguished artists as Tom Cochrane, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings
and Spirit of the West.

In 2009 a yearning for new adventures and experiences pulled Jack east to
Toronto, where he now calls home. There he continued to refine his craft by
playing in selected venues and recording an 8-song acoustic album,
Soulcraft, in the process. Toronto continued to be a positive influence on
Connolly, and his adventures there provided inspiration for the songs in the
album as well as ideas for future songs, jotted down in the notebook that
every songwriter has on them at all times.

In 2013 opportunity came knocking for Jack with the news that he was one of
six jury-selected finalists from across the country participating in the
Canadian Country Music Association’s (CCMA) prestigious 2013 Discovery
Program. Jack found himself brought under the mentorship of top country
music professionals including Juno Award Nominee Dallas Smith, and allowed
him to perform in industry showcases during Country Music Week in Edmonton,
Alberta. To say that this inspired Jack to push forward with his musical
career and look at his methods in different ways is an understatement, and
the Discovery program exposed his sound to a whole new crowd of people who
very quickly became fans.

Jack Connolly’s latest album, Great Big Soul, was not originally intended to
be an album, but more of a collection of 50 or so songs, several of which
were co-written with his father, to tuck away in his notebook. But
circumstances shifted for Jack and he found that he was in a position to
naturally create an album using 12 of the songs he felt were the best out of
the 50. While combining the soulful, heartfelt lyrics of the old country and
rock records that inspired him as a child along with the big band grandiose
energy of the new country style he has grown comfortable with, Jack
successfully shows that always moving forward and pushing yourself
creatively pays off. With the politically fuelled “Raise My Hand”, a song
about breaking the status quo and finding the faith and courage to stand up
for someone or something, to the gospel-inspired title track “Great Big
Soul”, a song that came to Jack shortly after his father had been diagnosed
with Leukemia and he realized that his life was heading for a major change.
The song itself is a challenge to enjoy each moment of life and the
importance of moving forward.

With the lyrics of a well-seasoned storyteller constantly on the road, the
instrumental high-energy of a full band concert, and the experience that can
only come with more than a decade of pushing for perfection, Jack Connolly
is a testament to the power of music and the notion that one can only ever
move forward and evolve.

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