By Stephanie Brooks
For a sibling duo from farm country Ontario, performing for industry experts and hundreds of fans at Canada’s biggest country music awards show week was merely a dream a year ago.
But Jenna and Stuart Walker have quickly grabbed the nation’s attention and proven hard work, great talent and a humble attitude go a long way.
They’re The Reklaws, and they’re here to stay.
Two months ago, the brother-sister team was one of six jury-selected acts chosen to participate in this year’s inaugural Canadian Country Music Association (CCMA) Discovery Program. The initiative provides education, resources and support to Canadian country artists, including an opportunity to perform in Edmonton at the Country Music Week Discovery Showcase and the prospect of winning the CCMA Discovery Award.
The Reklaws was the only band in the showcase chosen from Ontario – a feat they are both proud of and humbled by.
“It’s such an accomplishment to be chosen from the biggest province in Canada,” says the band’s lead vocalist, Jenna Walker. “We are so happy about it!”
Part of the program included taking part in an industry discovery week and mentorship program, in which they learned more about the music business and artist development and met some valuable contacts in the field.
“The relationships we made there mean the world. That was the coolest part of the week – meeting such amazing people who really have put their heart and soul into country music,” says Jenna.
The brother-sister duo says the experience opened their eyes to all that is out there and what they still need to work on.
“The experts laid it out for us and showed us all the right steps it takes to succeed,” she adds.
It’s this open-mindedness and positive outlook – coupled with a contagious energy – that is so refreshing and helping them move forward in the business.
“We thought we were like every other country band – just lucky to be in this thing,” adds younger brother Stuart Walker. “But we realized there is so much we need to think about. They guided us through what we need to do and what we need to learn. It was so good to take in all that knowledge, and it’s exciting to figure out what we can do.”
And it seems from a young age, country music was what they were meant to do. The siblings grew up listening to country music on the farm, harmonizing in the back of the car on family trips and playing their first gig at a small café in cottage country, Ontario.
“Ever since that first show, we’ve been growing. People had always said to us, ‘you guys have really got something,’” explains Jenna. “Over the past year, we’ve really been focusing on our music and everything has happened. It’s been amazing. Honestly, we do have something going on!”
Allan Boynton realized they had something the minute he heard the duo playing at a bar in Nashville one night.
“I heard the band, stopped what I was doing and watched,” says the head of ABMG Records. “We had a chat in-between sets, and sure enough, two months later, they became part of the ABMG family.”
He says he is happy to represent not only wonderful talents, but great people.
“They work so hard and ask for nothing but places to play and fans to play in front of,” he says.
The Reklaws’ current lineup speaks for itself. Just this summer, the band is performing across the country at venues like the CCMA’s Country Music Week, Country in the Woods, Music in the Fields, The Rogers Cup and a possible performance at Bowmanville’s Boots & Hearts festival.
Not bad for a couple country fans who originally bought tickets to be part of the crowd at Boots & Hearts.
“We’ve had an insane summer so far and have so much to look forward to,” says Stuart.
One listen to their newest single, Kiss Kiss, and their recent successes are evident. Mature vocals, smooth harmonies and a distinct country sound makes you want to listen on repeat – and why more and more fans are requesting their songs on country radio every day.
“To have a fan that believes in you so much and to connect and talk with them… I never knew how much of an impact that would have,” says Jenna. “People want to be a part of our development and feel like they have something to do with us, even in our early stages.”
Fans can catch the province’s very own The Reklaws on September 5 at the Country Music Week Discovery Showcase.
“We are so proud to be from Ontario,” concludes Jenna. “It is such an honour for us to be chosen.”