Juanita Wilkins
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Juanita Wilkins

Band Folk Singer/Songwriter


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Juanita Wilkins - Stronger

Juanita hails from Clifford Ontario, and writes fine songs. Add to that a strong band, with Jay Riehl doing a lovely job on the recording, and I think this artist will get some well-deserved notice. She sings about life, love, and loss, with wisdom and experience behind every song. This CD was a pleasant surprise on a sunny spring day. - Music Sebringville, Vol. #16, Issue. #6

The Basement Cafe at the Library in Harriston Ontario is one of those remarkable entertainment venues that is as unexpected as it is delightful.
But the secret is out. With a performer like Juanita Wilkins headlining the spring show Saturday night for the 15th Basement Cafe, the Minto Arts Council volunteers ended up scrambling to find extra seating. They managed to do so without interfering with the intimate atmosphere of the place.
Wilkins is no stranger to local audiences. She's a first class musician on her way up. Her distinctive country-folk music has been getting air play on a number of radio stations, and anyone at the Cafe Saturday night knows why. Her voice is as lovely as it is powerful, she's a first-rate musician, and her songs speak volumes.
While some of the Cafe's audience were friends of the musician, others had never heard her perform. They were in for a treat - Wilkins has rarely sounded better, and clearly enjoyed the ambiance and friendly faces.
The only unfortunate thing about the Cafe is the fact audiences will have to wait until October for the next one. If Saturday night was an indication of what to expect, tickets are sure to sell out quickly.
- The Minto Express

By Karen Stewart\Special to the Advance Times

Two vibrant Canadian musicians, Stephen Fearing and Juanita Wilkins, launch the Blyth Festival's 2006 season on Saturday, April 22.
Artistic director Eric Coates is thrilled to bring something new and exciting to Blyth Memorial Hall.
"Stephen Fearing is one of the most inspiring and talented singer/songwriters in Canada and he performs brilliantly in concert and Juanita Wilkins has really hit her stride. It's just a thrill to see her career take off like this."
Stephen Fearing has been penning some of the most literate, stirring and emotionally charged "Folk" music on this planet. Coupl this with stunning guitar work, and a smoothe intimate voice, and you have the elements of the unique performer that is Stephen Fearing. Stephen will be performing songs from his new album, due out this spring.
Opening for Stephen Fearing is independant recording artist, Juanita Wilkins of Wellington County. Listening to Juanita Wilkins perform is like sitting back enjoying a triple decker ice cream cone - everysong is a different experience. Her ballads are smooth and sweet, sprinkled with cool lyrics and tasty rhythms.
No stranger to our area, her songs make you laugh, clap and want to sing along with the chorus (and you do).
- Wingham Advance Times

September 19, 2008
By Robert Reid rreid@therecord.com

Read her biography and you might conclude that Juanita Wilkins has no business being a singer/songwriter.
Raised in a strict fundamentalist Christian family, there was little room for secular music when she was a youngster. Later, as a single mother with a full-time job, she had little time for music. Nevertheless, her will enabled her to find a way to turn her dream into reality.
Wilkins was born in Northern Ontario but moved with her family to the Wingham area after her father died. Her mother remarried. Even though pursuing a music career was actively discouraged in her family, it wouldn't be denied. "music was always in my head," she recalls from her home office. "My mother said I could carry a tune at two years of age." Wilkins left home in her teens. "As soon as I was old enough, I was gone."
She married "young" and ended up raising three sons on her own while working as an office administrator. Still, music was never far from her mind. "I played for myself, and kept writing."
When her boys got older, a couple of things happened that changed the direction of Wilkins' life.
She attended Wilfrid Laurier University as an adult student, graduating with an Honours BA in English, and then she met Wesley Bates, master printmaker and illustrator. For the last seven years, the couple have shared a home, office, studio, and art gallery in Clifford, Ontario.
"It's nice to live with another artist who understands the creative temperament," acknowledges Wilkins. "We have a wonderfully interesting life because of what we do for a living."
With Bates' support, Wilkins left her day job to devote herself to music. "Walking away from my job and finding an audience that gets what I'm doing as an artists have been huge confidence builders."
Wilkins recorded her first of two albums in 2004. With its big Nashville sound, "Stronger" is a country album with shades of jazz, blues and folk rock.
The album's most striking elements are the quality of songwriting and Wilkins' warm, rich voice which draws comparisons to a young Anne Murray.
Wilkins enjoyed working with Jay Riehl of Signature Sound, but she was looking for something a little different for her sophomore release. She contacted James Gordon and he agreed to record the album at his Pipe Street Studio in Guelph.
Co-produced by Gordon and Wilkins, "Four Corner Town" has more of a stripped-down country folk feel.
Wilkins, who handles lead vocals, back ground vocals and rhythm guitar, is joined by Bob MacLean (on lead guitar), as well as Gordon with his sons Evan and Geordie Gordon, among others.
"It was convenient to record the album in Guelph, and James has become a good friend. He has such a good ear and he's highly respected by his peers."
Gordon encouraged Wilkins to extend her creative reach by writing songs that are linked thematically as well as sonically. "I learned a lot from James."
"Four Corner Town" offers an affectionate snapshot of the kind of rural and small-town people Wilkins grew up, not only observing, but caring about. It brings to mind the kind of songs Connie Kaldor writes about small town life on the Prairies.
Wilkins views herself primarily as a story-teller. "What makes a song important is the story it tells," she observes, "and the melody carries the story."
Wilkins officially released the album a couple of weeks ago in Hamilton and will spend a busy fall showcasing it across southwestern Ontario.
She joins MacLean for a concert Saturday at the Woolwich Arms. She's in Guelph tonight, as well, participating in the Take Back the Night events at 6 p.m. at Marianne's Park.
You don't have to talk to Wilkins for more than a couple of minutes to realize she is an artist who is where she was meant to be.
"I've waited my whole life to do this. I've worked hard to get here and I feel so fortunate and grateful. A lot of people go to jobs every day that they hate. Sometimes I give myself a little pinch. I don't think life gets any better." - Waterloo Region Record / Nightlife


2008: Full length (11 track) indie release of "Four Corner Town", recorded at Pipe Street Studio, engineered and co-produced by James Gordon.

2004: Full length (12 track) indie release of "Stronger", recorded, engineered and mixed by Jay Riehl of Signature Sound.

Juanita receives airplay on Ontario radio stations: CKNX AM 920 Wingham, Ont., CKNX FM 102 Wingham, Ontario; Country 93 FM, Owen Sound, Ontario;Country 1510, Tillsonburg, Ontario;
Easy 101.3, Tillsonburg, Ontario;
CJCS, Stratford, Ontario, and is played on campus / small market independent radio folk shows such as: CFMU's Freewheeling Folk! and CKPC's Just Us Folk.



Juanita Wilkins is a roots artist with a mission - to tell the stories of rural Ontario - and her new recording project "Four Corner Town", is doing just that. Working with James Gordon at Pipe Street Studios in Guelph, Ontario, Juanita has achieved a clean, pure sound which showcases the touching and relevant songs she's written about the life and times of rural South Western Ontario. And these songs, written with her trademark writing style of intelligent lyrics and hummable melodies are the perfect vehicle for the voice that has been described in turns as pure and beautiful to smoky and sexy. With a three octave range, and the ability to sing everything from folk to country to blues and jazz, Juanita's stage show offers something for everyone - while disappointing no-one. Juanita has recently paired up with Mississauga guitarist and singer/songwriter Bill Candy, and the pairing is divine! Whether in the studio or on the stage, they have a lovely musical chemistry. Her recent performance at Summerfolk in Owen Sound was a surprise, out-of-the-ballpark home run hit with attendees, both with the workshop audiences and the cheering thousands in the "Down by the Bay" tent.
Some great news: One of the cuts from "Four Corner Town", Subdivision Blues (Never Going Back), featured in this EPK, placed in the top ten in the OCFF's "Songs From The Heart" 2007 competition, and was submitted by the judges from that competition to the Colleen Peterson Songwriting Award.

Not one to be pinned to a single genre, Juanita's songwriting reflects her eclectic tastes in music - thoughtfully, and sometimes humourously, exploring relationships, world events, the human condition, and, especially close to her heart, the lives of women who work the farms in her rural neighbourhood. Looking to the rich history of Canadian Singer/Songwriters, Juanita feels that she has been guided and influenced by the likes of Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Fred Eaglesmith, Stephen Fearing, Lynn Miles, to name a few. Her first solo CD 'Stronger' is just that - a strong foray into the indie music scene. Juanita has opened for such artists as Stephen Fearing, Ray Bonneville, Andy Maize and Josh Finlayson of Skydiggers, and was chosen by Jane Harbury to be one of four performers at her "Discoveries" show at Hugh's Room in Toronto on February 13, 2007, and will be featured in a "RE-Discoveries" night this coming spring. Juanita continues to impress audiences with her insightful songs, playing to sold out houses in a series of songwriter showcases, intimate concerts, and larger events, such as festival appearances.

Juanita keeps her hand and heart in her local community volunteering as the Music Director for the Minto Arts Council in Wellington County - bringing in top Canadian Talent to concert events that function as important fundraisers for this awardwinning volunteer organization which promotes the arts in her locality. Juanita's dedication to live music shows in all aspects of her life, whether performing herself, or organizing live music events for others. Juanita is proud of her "Rural Roots"!