Performer finds a deep connection to music

Performer finds a deep connection to music

February 20, 2024

The first time JJ Voss played the guitar, not only did he find his vocation, but he found a tool to express himself. Now four decades later, he is an award-winning country singer, songwriter and performer.

“Playing music and being in the entertainment business has been my focus, my whole life. My music has always been a way to connect with others in a way that I can’t always do through talking.” Voss believes that all children and youth should have the  opportunity to enjoy a cultural activity of their choice that will give them avenues to express themselves.

Growing up in the small rural community of Cupar, his passion for the guitar developed as a natural progression, as did his singing. As his three older siblings had lef t home, it became a way to pass the time.

“I was at home by myself and music became my friend, my companion, and picking up the instruments was just a natural progression,” he says.

His first guitar lessons were given by his father. By age 11, and showing a strong aptitude toward learning the guitar, he was enrolled in lessons in Regina. By 15 years old, he was performing in his first band.

“It just made sense that, not only would I be listening to the songs, but of course, I’d want to be on stage, singing the songs and playing them.”

After high school, Voss toured with numerous bands including Emerson Drive from Nashville for ten years. At the same time, he worked on his solo career, editing, producing and recording albums. Since then he has released three albums and one single. In 2008, he received the Western Country Music Awards (WMCA) Producer of the Year nomination for debut album Hillbilly Storybook. His Show ‘em Who’s Voss’ album in 2012, landed him a Saskatchewan Country Music Awards (SCMA) for Roots Album of the Year and chart action for five singles on Canadian Country radio. The album also received international airplay leading Voss to his first overseas tour; playing shows in Germany, Ireland, France, the Netherlands, Colombia and Mexico.

Through it all he has stayed true to his goal of becoming a troubadour, following in the footsteps of Steve Earle, Charlie Major, Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen. Songwriting fueled his career, helped him cope with difficult times and gave him a place to put his emotions.

“It’s important to me because being creative allows me to explore myself, my feelings and my emotions. And when I’m creating, I learn a lot of about why I am who I am.” He adds, “I hope that at some point af ter I’m gone, a song that I’ve written will connect with somebody, or helps somebody feel like they are not alone, because to me that’s leaving my mark.”

Looking back he realizes his music also helped him fit in with his peers, gave him a community to be a part of and projected him on a positive path forward. “Art and culture can be life changing. If I wasn’t able to find music as a means to focus my passion and energy, I may have gotten into a lot of trouble.”

That is why he now volunteers his time to, and believes in Creative Kids, and its support of kids facing financial barriers to participating in cultural activities. “It’s important that our youth have the opportunity to be able to access the lifechanging benefits of an art or cultural activity. I think it’s wonderful that there is an organization that is looking out for kids who don’t have the means to pursue that.”

Read more impact stories from the Progress Report