Langleyites might not even realize that one of their fellow residents enjoyed a lengthy career as an award-winning country music artist before putting down roots in town almost two decades ago.
But, inside the country music industry, Laurie Thain’s contributions – past and present – are not forgotten.
In fact, her efforts were recognized this past weekend, when she was inducted into the B.C. Country Music Association’s (BCCMA’s) Hall of Fame.
“I must admit that I was surprised at being chosen for induction into the BCCMA Hall of Fame,” Thain told the Langley Advance.
The event, held in the Cascades Casino Summit Theatre Sunday afternoon, lauded Thain for more than 23 years she spent touring clubs, concerts, and festivals performing mainly in Western Canada, but as far afield as New Zealand.
“It feels good to be remembered after a lifetime of music making. Being in the hall of fame is proof that you actually accomplished something that people remember after all those years of striving to do just that,” added Thain, who first started singing in 1978.
The singer and songwriter also released four of albums, received numerous BCCMA nominations, wrote and produced Country Alive for three years at the Pacific National Exhibition, and hosted and performed for 20 years on the Timmy’s Christmas Telethon.
In 1995, the then-Maple-Ridge resident also launched an unplugged concert series for local songwriters called the Little Brick Church Series.
With more than 50 concerts and counting, she plans to resurrected that series later this spring, with three concerts slate between May and December.
In the meantime, Thain took what some might call a hiatus from the music industry for a decade, moving to Japan to teach English.
While in Japan, she completed her master’s in teaching – specifically focusing on teaching English to young learners.
But never able to give up her music completely, she also conducted and published classroom research on young language learners and did conference presentations on using music to teach English to children for Oxford University Press.
Upon her return home to B.C. in 2011, Thain opened Pure Pacific Music for Young Learners with music partner Gordon Maxwell. And now, she divides her time between teaching English and contract songwriting and recording for international educational publishers.
“I was absent for so long that I was really unsure about what to expect at the show. To my great surprise I felt a very great warmth and appreciation… which helped me believe that I had in fact made a memorable contribution to the sound of country music in B.C.,” she said.
“The overwhelmingly warm reception I received from the musicians, fellow inductees and audience members was humbling and will ring in my heart for a very long time. The hall of fame induction show on Sunday will forever remain in my memory as one of the most validating and richest days of my life.”
Thain was among several industry and country music makers honoured with the hall of fame induction this past weekend.
She was joined in the ranks by Red Robinson, Ray Ramsay, Denny Eddy, Mike Norman, Farmer’s Daughter, Gerry Leiske, Tammy Ray, Redd Volkaert and John McLaughlin.
In addition to being honoured Sunday, Thain, Farmer’s Daughter, Ray, Lee, and Eddy were also invited to performed during the show.
“I was also more than impressed with the calibre of musicianship in the band that backed all of the performers. I knew these players were the cream of the crop, but I had forgotten just how good they were. Working with such great musicians again was a real thrill,” she said.
“It was a rich afternoon in terms of refreshing old friendship and hearing about and reflecting upon the accomplishments of my fellow inductees. Hearing the presenters list of the awards and accomplishments of the other artists and industry professionals, that were being inducted, made me feel proud to be in their company.”
She commented on how proud she was that so many of them started off together in this province and went on to experience national and in some cases, international success.
“I will never be able to accurately express my thanks to the BCCMA for this experience or the gratitude I feel for the honour of being inducted into the hall of fame. This was a wonderful feeling of validation that coupled with the actual hall of fame induction put a very sweet bookend on my country music career.”
This year marks the 30th year since the first induction of Ray McAuley into the BCCMA Hall of Fame.
The show not only pays tribute to these “invaluable champions” of B.C. country music history, but also gives back to help the BC Country Music Association educate the country musicians industry builders of tomorrow, explained vice-president and former Langley resident Linda Corscadden.
“We all have a responsibility to celebrate and encourage the artists among us and to let them know that their music does matter and that it is important,” Thain added.
“The music industry is a tough road and through it all, having the support and appreciation of your family and fans can sometimes make the difference between staying in the business and losing heart and turning to some other career,” she said during some reflections on the celebratory event.
“Now, more than ever, I can say to up-and-coming artists ‘Use your talent to the fullest. Even when you feel that nobody is listening and that your music doesn’t matter, as I often felt, keep going and love the art in yourself.’ You may be surprised, as I was on April 10, that more people out there were appreciating your work than you could even imagine. One more word of advice, ‘Never throw out your cowboy boots, you never know when you will need them’.”
PHOTO: Laurie Thain of Langley was inducted into the BCCMA Hall of Fame Sunday. The award was presented to her by fellow musician and partner Gordon Maxwell. (Dee Lippingwell photo)