by Scott Roos
photos by Deanna Roos of Contingent Colours Photography
"They’ve given me tons of opportunities and I love 'em for that. I can’t show my appreciation enough. I just love singing for them. I wouldn’t be where I am without them," mused up and coming country crooner Nick Aiken in a recent conversation with NSMZ. Aiken was speaking of the performing opportunities afforded him by the Prince Albert Country Music Association (aka PACMA).
PACMA will be celebrating their 30th anniversary in style Friday, Nov. 12 and Saturday Nov. 13th in the form of two very special concerts at the E.A. Rawlinson Centre For the Arts. The shows will feature young talent like Aiken as well as a laundry list of critically acclaimed acts as well as a list of familiar, more well established faces. Over their three decades the organization has been no stranger to using nights like these to elevate talent like Aiken.
"The exposure afforded me by the PACMA is what got my name out in a sense and I’m not a professional by any means but it definitely makes me feel like I’m trying to become one," added Aiken.
Aiken, who resides in Meath Park, grew up surrounded by country music. He's a country boy at heart and sultry sounds of artists like George Strait, Tim McGraw and Chris Stapleton are what he aspires to.
"I love country. I’m a country boy. I live in the country. I sing primarily country. I come from a background of country singers. All my uncles used to sing. They used to play the fiddle and guitars and just sit there and strum around the campfire," explains Aiken.
Aiken also loves heavy rock and cites Metallica as an early influence. He saw his first concert from James Hetfield and grew in 2018. In short, country music provides the foundation of his musical influences but Hetfield and crew provide the inspiration.
" I listen to anything that you give me except for rap. I love heavy metal. I love country. I love rock. I love pop, alternative, everything but heavy metal is where I started. I was kind of into music a little bit, listening here and there, and then I went to my first Metallica concert back in 2018 it just skyrocketed. I downloaded every single Metallica song. They are my band. That's who I associate with the most. That’s where I started. I’d be sitting in my room, headbanging with my air pods on, just given er,” said Aiken.
“Country music hits different. It’s a lot nicer to sing. I feel like country music is a bit better in a sense of story telling. With Metallica there’s lots of stories but not everyone can piece together those stories. Getting people to headbang is a really cool thing and it gets people to have fun but really really getting people to feel emotion from your singing like I can with country music is a very very huge difference. That makes me happy - making people feel when I sing. Making them think of something from their past that the song could bring out. So that’s where I think country music is my go to. Just for the emotions,” Aiken continues.
Aiken is currently taking courses from the University of Saskatchewan. He's got a good head on his shoulders and understands that deep down a post-secondary education is going to be key moving forward and will secure him a bright future but he also hasn't taken his eye of the proverbial prize: being a professional touring musician.
"I would definitely work towards getting a record. That would be my goal," said Aiken.
Aiken is still 18 years young. It's going to be exciting to see where his talent takes him over the next few years. For his part, he has a golden voice and a broad, natural understanding of the country music genre. The path to a full time music career will be beset on all sides by all kinds of toil and trouble, but if he stays motivated and dedicated the sky will be the limit.