After graduation, Victoria Banks (BSc 1997 VIC) moved to Nashville to become a professional songwriter. (She says her zoology degree helps her deal with the animals in the music business.) After writing songs for Jessica Simpson and country musician Sara Evans, Banks has released her first CD, When You Can Fly. Lisa Rundle talked with her on the eve of its release.
When did you write your first song? I was in Grade 6 and it was called “Railway of Love.” I actually made up a word for the rhyme – Why can’t the pain be forgotten, and some new life be besoughten. I felt it made me sound really intelligent.
So was country already your vibe? That song definitely had that ring to it, which is a little strange because I’d never been exposed to country. I was classically trained in both piano and voice. I grew up in Muskoka, summer cottage country. After Labour Day, you could shoot a cannonball down the street and not hit a soul because everybody had gone home. So all winter we had to entertain ourselves. My family was a little strange – we’d do things like sing Bach in four-part harmony around the dinner table.
Update: the nominations roll in…
Banks has received five nods for the Canadian Country Music Association awards:
- album of the year
- female artist of the year
- the Rising Star award
- single of the year
- songwriter of the year for ‘The Wheel’.
The awards will be broadcast September 13 on CBC from Vancouver’s GM Place.
How did you end up writing for Jessica Simpson? I’ve been in Nashville 10 years writing songs professionally. Right now I’m on staff at Sony, and often a songwriter gets paired with an artist. Jessica had started dating Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo and she was in that want-to-be-with-him-all-the-time frame of mind. So my songwriting partner and I took that and created “Come on Over” – drop everything and get over here because I need you right now.
What is your music about? This record is really personal. I went through a divorce and was pulling myself out of an abusive relationship. So I was learning to take my power back and trust myself, and a lot of the songs reflect that…. These songs felt really special to me and I wanted to be the conduit for getting them out there.
What’s it like being a Canadian living in Nashville? Well, you are asked at the grocery store a lot whether you’ve been saved by Jesus. I’m living in the buckle of the Bible belt here. But there’s a grace to the Southern attitude that I’ve definitely learned from.
Next time you go to Muskoka will your family sit around the dinner table and sing a Victoria Banks song? No! It’ll still be Bach. They’re still trying to understand what I’m doing down here.
Click here to listen to Victoria’s first single “The Wheel”
Click here to listen to Victoria’s duet with Jason Blaine “Don’t Leave the Leavin'”
For more information about Victoria, visit her website at: www.victoriabanks.net