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Sheila Deck has a brand new album she wants the world to know about. It’s been a labour of love like nothing else in her life ever has, outside her daughter. Now if only she could slip Ralph Emery a copy.

Ralph Emery is a legendary Nashville type who makes people nod and smile when they hear his name. A staple on the American country scene for decades, he was no singer, didn’t play guitar and couldn’t write a song to save his life. But he sure helped those who did. Emery was a famous Nashville radio dj and, later, TV host who knew and interviewed an historically huge arc of big stars, Hank Snow to Dolly to Reba to Garth Brooks, Tim McGraw and all the rest.

He interviewed Sheila Deck, too. It was the 90s, country music was showering the popular culture with new possibilities and Deck was on Emery’s Nashville TV talk show where, off camera, she asked what he thought the secret to success was in this business. Without missing a beat he looked her in the eye and simply said: “Perseverance”.

Sheila Deck has taken him at his word.

At the time she was on a roll, a newly minted recording artist with some solid chart success and down in Nashville for an all expenses paid trip after winning the highly prestigious Canadian Country Music Association Budweiser Talent Search against a pool of hundreds.

Saskatchewan born and raised, Deck was bottle fed on country music, groomed to the road-rat life traveling the endless prairies as part of a family group called, appropriately enough, Tumbleweed. That was before she fell in with country show band Boone & The Girls and went on touring the height and breadth of Canada with them. From the get-go audiences were commenting on Deck’s effervescent stage presence and a voice that stopped you cold. The kid was a born pro.

By the time she went solo there was already a solid fan base to build on and build she did. Her first Too Many Melodies Ago debut album garnered half a dozen charting singles, she was even winning airplay in Europe and she and her band were sharing stages with the Canadian country cream including Terri Clark, Jason McCoy and Beverley Mahood. That year she snagged the female vocalist of the year award at the Saskatchewan Country Music Awards.

The next logical step was a second CD, keep up the momentum, stoke that fire into a blazing inferno. And then, boom, just like that, fate smothered it all into smoke and ash.

There is much to recommend having a child, that wonderful creature who can open new eyes on the world for you and release your heart in ways you never dreamed possible. A child is love personified. But the little darling can be murder on a burgeoning indie music career.

So things were on hold for a while as Deck applied herself to nappies and bottles, animated videos, soccer practice, homework, sleep-overs, the whole ball of domestic wax. But in the back of her mind that word kept flashing: Perseverance.

She couldn’t let go – and she didn’t.

There’s a new album coming down the pike, recorded in Vancouver and produced by multiple award winner Tom McKillip. It is full of carefully culled songs featuring songwriters like Nashville-via-Toronto’s writing darling these days, Victoria Banks. Most were originally demoed in Music City by the likes of Gretchen Wilson and LeeAnn Womack. They’re all aimed straight between the eyes of contemporary country radio.

Through it all Sheila Deck has learned some dreams flat out refuse to lay down and die.

“A lot of my musician friends look at me and say, ‘you still have stars in your eyes’”, she laughs. “But I can’t help it. When I’m up on stage that’s who I am. So yep - I’m back and I’m ready to go.”

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