Crossfield musician Robert Adam is one step closer to $100,000 thanks to his talents as a budding country artist.
Project WILD, hosted by radio station WILD 95.3 FM in Calgary, is a competition that seeks to find and help grow Alberta’s next country and roots musicians.
Adam said he is gobsmacked and thankful to be named among the top 12 finalists.
“I am still emerging compared to the other competitors,” he said. “That was a huge insecurity in my mind, but I am thankful they chose me.”
According to a joint press release sent out by Alberta Music and Wild 95.3 FM, the program initially launched in 2014. The $4.9 million program is funded by the Jim Pattison Broadcast Group, and aims to support emerging Canadian musical artists through various boot camps and training initiatives.
The release stated that, while the program couldn’t happen in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a lot of excitement surrounding the top 12 finalists and what the program will bring for this year’s group.
Every artist in the Top 12 will receive a $5,000 development award and an invitation to a one-week boot camp designed to further their skills in performance, song-writing, marketing, media strategy, music business, music accounting, touring strategy, and social media.
Adam, who grew up in Bonnyville, provides a unique story and the musical styling to go with it. As a member of the LGBTQ2S+ community, he said growing up in rural Alberta wasn’t always easy, but as he has progressed, his identity helped shape his voice and create the country music he has always loved.
“It was an interesting time as a queer person growing up in northern Alberta, I sort of stuck out like a sore thumb,” he said. “As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realised my time in small towns and rural spaces was also special in a lot of ways. It made me the person I am today.”
While there may be a certain stigma about rural areas and the LGBTQ2S+ community, Adam said times have changed since his upbringing.
“I exist in a lot of rural small-town spaces, and I love them,” he said. “The people love harder, the community is so much deeper in small towns. The mindsets in small towns are so hardworking and ambitious.”
On the musical side, Adam grew up singing in church. While he wasn’t big on country music in his younger years, the genre eventually came back and grew on him.
“I didn’t feel like the space that I grew up in really loved me back and country music was kind of a symbolism of that,” he said.
He pursued post-secondary in Saskatchewan for music and to be a heavy-duty mechanic, but realized his life was taking him in a different direction.
Coming out publicly in his fourth year of Bible College in Saskatchewan, Adam said it didn’t go over well, but it set him on his own authentic journey.
Ultimately, he said he realized you can’t run away from where you come from, which led to him writing country songs that reflected his upbringing. He said it was a strategy that had an impact on his audiences.
“They seem to really connect with the material, no matter what walk of life they are from,” he said.
Inspired by artists like Glenn Campbell, Patsy Cline, and Loretta Lynn, Adam said the vivid stories the country artists told in their music in the 1960s and 1970s really resonated with him and have helped shape his sound.
“You can almost close your eyes and their music can take you to a different place completely,” he said. “I was really moved by that.”
While Project WILD’s winner will not be revealed until March 2022, Adam is preparing for the boot camp coming up in January. Designing a merchandise item, writing a final report, and collaborating with other artists are just a few of what’s left on the agenda before a winner is chosen.
If Adam can secure the win, he said he would finally be able to record his debut album, and push his promotion to the next level.
“I have pinched pennies and been resourceful to get to where I am at today,” he said. “Winning the money would be life-changing for me.”
For more information or to listen to Adam’s music, visit robertadammusic.com