Origin: Regina, Saskatchewan
Some of Hugh Poorman’s earliest memories are singing his heart out in front of company, family and friends. “When my pop was alive … I was maybe about five years old, they’d be having a party or whatever and he’d be strumming the guitar. He was an entertainer himself. He’d call me out in the room to come and sing a song.”
Looking back it’s easy to tell Hugh was being honed for a life in the spotlight. He was also learning how tough it is to make it in the cutthroat music business for although five year old Hugh got his first ‘gig’ and saw them pass a hat around during his performance he doesn’t “remember seeing any of that cash.”
Undeterred, Hugh continued on a musical path. His early influences, “Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard when I was growing up. When I hit the teens it was metal days so a lot of metal too,” helped shape the gritty, bluesy, rocky, sound that Hugh has become known for.
He was eager to learn and took guitar lessons, which led him to drum lessons, which led to enrolling in Professional Musician’s College to study percussion, which ultimately led him to songwriting and back to the guitar. Years of dedication and hard work really began to pay off with the release of ‘Red Road,’ Hugh’s debut album which came out in 2013. Now that he had a hard copy of the songs he’d been working on creating over the years it was time to let fate take over.
“About a year and a half ago Crystal Shwanda was playing down in Ituna. I went down there and I took a cd with me, one of my ‘Red Road’ cd’s. I swapped one of her shirts for (it). A month later I was sitting at the table. The phone rings and there’s a southern voice on the other side. He introduces himself as such and such. He goes on to say that we like your style and your songwriting and music…. I’m thinking, okay it’s one of my friends pulling my leg. But they proceeded to tell me that I should pack my bags, you’re coming to Nashville. It was kind of numbing at the time. It was almost surreal. It was fate. It was luck… It was something I saw in my mind and it manifested.”
The phone call was definitely no joke. Hugh Poorman signed a 3 year deal with Sun Records and “That was the start of many trips going there and meeting many people. I’ve been really blessed to have a lot of people behind me and that support me in all kinds of ways.”
Now he is anxiously awaiting the release date of his new album. An album that has a lot of power behind it. “The first time I went down we were sitting in post production in the studio and I looked to my left and there’s Waylon Jennings’ guitar player, Johnny Cash’s bass player, Aretha Franklin’s drummer here and then Crystal Shwanda is on the other side of me… They hand me the guitar and say let’s see what you got. I’m thinking in my mind, this is it Hugh, this is it right here and then I started to play.”
Hugh closed his eyes and belted out his best songs like he’d been born to do. He made some fans in the room that day and the music they helped him create could earn him countless more.
Some of those new fans are aspiring young musicians and Hugh’s company HNV Productions Inc. is doing their best to ensure they are able to follow in his footsteps.
“We started doing music lessons. Drum and guitar to start with. We got into that about a year ago and started doing the Touchwood area. It is just something that we love to do and our non-profit business is still on the hunt to find these kids some more instruments because it is something you can teach but they need a guitar to take home to practice and some of them just can’t afford it.”
“It’s pretty exciting when see a kids face when they know a ‘G’ chord and they start strumming. Plug them into an electric guitar, turn up the gain, let them feel that distortion and their faces light up. Then you turn it up even louder and they’re holding their ears but they’re loving it. Or you put them behind a drum kit and teaching them the straight rock beat and the counting. A lot of them pick it up so fast. To seem them give’r nails after a few lessons, that’s the payback.”
“It’s very important to do things now while we’re here. First and foremost is the well being of these kids and if we stick a musical instrument in front of them it’s a fact that they will be better in all parts of their life not only in home but in school… the whole brain is working, not just half. It’s like a lightning storm going on in there.”
Hugh’s smiling and personable demeanor have a lot do with his humility. He knows that music is a lifelong pursuit. “I’m still learning a lot, I’ve got a long way to go.” In the mean time he has stories to tell, songs to sing, lessons to hand down and hats to pass around.
-Shane Bellegarde, rezmag.com