Updated: Feb 12, 2021
by Scott Roos
The past four months have been quite the whirlwind for Prince Albert expat Katelyn Lehner. The release of her debut single under the tutelage of Universal Honey/Tucker Lane industry veterans Leslie Stanwyck and Johnny Sinclair has obviously proven to be a lucrative partnership. In fact, that very single, entitled "Red", was co-written and fleshed out by Stanwyck and has since received a lot of critical acclaim and no doubt played a large part in the recognition that Lehner has received which includes a nomination for the Saskatchewan Country Music Association's "Emerging Artist of the Year".
"Johnny (Sinclair) was the judge at the SCMA (produced) 'Saskatchewan’s Next Big Star' contest and (Lehner) was a contestant. Then Johnny met her again at an SCMA meeting and he talked to her and asked if she would like to meet me (Leslie) and write some songs. It was after Katelyn and I wrote our first song together that we thought we should work with her," commented Stanwyck in a recent interview.
From day one, the industry veteran power couple of Stanwyck and Sinclair obviously recognized something special in Lehner.
"She had a good energy and looked comfortable on stage. She had a presence. Also, her voice wasn’t entirely like every other female country artist," continued Stanwyck.
Lehner was agreeable to working with Stanwyck and Sinclair and went to the Honeytunes studio in Saskatoon to record "Red" with the backing of the Tucker Lane gang. The result was a flirtatious, playful, hook laden track that garnered a lot of recognition for Lehner. Since graduating from university with a Kinesiology degree, Lehner has pivoted to focusing her attention on the music business. It's been amazing to see what she has been able to accomplish in such a short period of time.
"Since graduating university, I have immersed myself into gaining knowledge in this new industry. There has been much reading, researching, mentor meetings, podcasts, calls, along with the technical aspect of virtual shows. Writing and co-writing is ongoing. I don’t think my mind is ever turned off when it comes to this industry," commented Lehner.
Lehner has a true entrepreneurial spirit. She's been eager to learn things and has not been afraid to seek help and guidance when she needs to. She's intelligent, driven and motivated - all qualitied that will no doubt take her far in the business and also qualities that make her very deserving of the SCMA Emerging Artist nod. On top of this, she's damn talented. And, as Stanwyck mentioned, she's got a unique sound and style.
"A career in music is not something I have just decided on in the past year. It has always been a dream and plan of mine. My academic years at the University of Calgary and University of Saskatchewan have provided me with much knowledge and life skills. My athletic career with commitment to training and competing both nationally and internationally, have provided me with years of experience on a stage of different sorts.
I am very proud of my accomplishments in the past year and it’s nice to know that after all the hours of 'Music 101', I am on the right path," Lehner continued.
This nomination hasn't stopped Lehner from continuing to do what she loves, though. Since the spring of 2020, Lehner has become more independent, using the knowledge and experience she has accumulated to start to forge her own path and chart her own course. As a result, there's a follow-up single to "Red" in the works that should be released later this year.
"(I'll be working with producer) Bart McKay (who) has been finalizing this song with me. Bart’s list of accomplishments and experience in the recording industry provide such an intricate expertise, and I’m so happy to be working with him, said Lehner.
In the meantime, Lehner is grateful for the recognition she's received via this latest award nomination.
"I wish to thank all the SCMA members who have voted for me and see me as deserving in the Emerging Artist Category! I have looked up to so many of these artists for many years, and am very humbled to be recognized by them," said Lehner.
*photos by Deanna Roos of Contingent Colours Photography