Langley, BC-Brian Thomas plays more than ten musical instruments and has written almost 100 original songs. Not bad for a guy who never picked up a guitar until the age of 17. But what is even more impressive, his latest CD, Prairie Rain, has just been nominated for a Canadian Folk Music Award, in the category "Best Instrumentalist, Solo".
"To successfully garner the attention of your peers is a feat not easily achieved and a great honour," says David Squires, who was Thomas' music professor when he was a student at Trinity Western University only five years ago. "I am thrilled for him," Squires adds.
Thomas describes himself as a Celtic-folk songwriter and sees his music as a means to re-capture the art of telling stories through song. He blends together guitar, hammered dulcimer, piano and recorder to create his distinctive sound.
Though his previous albums contain vocals, Prairie Rain is mostly instrumental. Thomas' aim in making this new release was to be able to convey real emotions and vivid imagery through his various instruments. And says it is one of his greatest challenges as a musician. The dulcimer plays a central role in several songs, including his title track.
For Thomas each song is a story which reflects the journey through life. Much of his inspiration for Prairie Rain came from a trip he took with his wife to Scotland and Ireland. Several of the songs were written for him and his wife's wedding and other friend's weddings. This latest album is Thomas' third release, following Storybook and Dancing in the Desert.
"His music is very genuine and authentic," says Squires, who is a composer himself. "I think he has really found his artistic voice as a songwriter. He is a very personal writer, writing out of the depths of his own personal experience, his own view of the world."
It took time and effort for Thomas to grow into his potential. His devotion to the Celtic genre was not there right from the start but was something that progressed over time. "It was during my composition courses with David that helped me to develop my writer's voice," Thomas says. "I began to realize who I was as a musician, rather than trying to sound like somebody else."
Squires observes, that in Prairie Rain, Brian has found a real place of joy and contentment. "The music is infectious," he laughs, "You can quote me on that."
The Canadian Folk Music Award's were created to celebrate and promote Canadian Folk Music in all its forms. Before 2005, there were no awards that celebrated the full "breadth and depth" of folk music in Canada. There are five nominees in each category.
"There are some very talented people in the field with outstanding music," says Thomas, "So to be on the same list as them is quite an honour."
Hoping for the best, Thomas will be heading to Gatineau, Quebec where the award ceremony will take place on the first of December.
Trinity Western University, located in Langley, B.C., is a not-for-profit Christian liberal arts and sciences university enrolling approximately 4000 students. TWU offers undergraduate degrees in 39 major areas of study ranging from biotechnology, education, nursing, theatre and music to business, communications and biblical studies. TWU's 15 graduate degrees include such areas as counseling psychology, business, theology, administrative leadership and interdisciplinary studies in English, philosophy and history.
Last Updated: 2007-12-03