“Oh, just tell the folks I’ve got about 65 pounds of awards,” he says modestly, when asked why the walls in his rustic country home aren’t lined with gold records and Junos. It’s a typical interview answer from Canada’s fastest-rising country star, George Fox, who considers chopping firewood as much an integral part of his life as writing and performing music. To George, the “country” lifestyle is more than fodder for song lyrics: “It’s in your blood, like cholesterol.”
After several years of the glitter and hype of Nashville, the Alberta-born-rancher-turned-country-singer/songwriter returned to Canada and set down new roots in Ontario. Still an Alberta boy at heart, George needed to cut down on constant air travel to Toronto, so he found an 80-acre place near Ancaster that needed a wee bit of work. His dad’s first comment on seeing the 130-year-old abandoned house was, “I get tired just lookin’ at it!”
“This country always gets the best of me”
The renovation constitutes an ongoing labor of love for George and his wife of just over one year, Monica. “It reminds me of the cosy older Alberta home I grew up in,” he says. Wood floors ground the big old country kitchen, with its harvest table and working woodstove. Throughout the board and batten house, antiques cohabit comfortably with more modern furniture pieces, and windows afford lace-curtained views of flowers and farm fields. The sloped ceilings and nooks and crannies upstairs lend an air of nostalgia to the couple’s eclectic collection of plants, needlepoint, knickknacks and family photos.
Outside, George has an outbuilding workshop with plenty of room for his tractor and assorted farm implements. The couple’s dog, Lucky, enjoys tearing across the vast backyard past the log swing and through the elms, maples and birches that dot the scenic farm property.
“…they’ve sent me an angel”
Monica feels at home here, too, having come from a farm family. Despite her career in television production, she’s a country girl at heart. Her breathtaking raven-haired Italian beauty provides a striking contrast to the handsome singer’s fair features. They’re living a true country love story permeated by lots of laughter from George’s wacky sense of humor. “I guess the honeymoon’s over.” he cautions. “I got her a roto-tiller for her birthday.”
George’s phenomenally popular “Greatest Hits” album released last year features the song, “I Give You My Word,” a poignant love song written especially for Monica and their first dance together as man and wife. Since its release, fans have taken the song to their hearts, and the lovely strains can be heard gracing churches and wedding reception halls across Canada on a regular basis.
George’s newest album, “Survivor,” has just been released, and fans will enjoy yet another glimpse into his soul through the title track. Like most of George’s music, “Survivor” is based on his life, this time on the recent passing of his mother. “In my heart, she’s still here,” he says of the woman who represents quintessential motherhood to him. “Now she’s an angel watching over me.”
“Deep down inside me, her strength never ends”
This album is philosophically deeper than past recordings, with songs such as “The Greenest Grass” urging listeners to make the most of their lives. “People my age with young families need guidance and to feel part of something. They relate to the relaxation of country music,” says George. And judging from the numerous Canadian Country Music Awards and Junos he’s received, they revel in his grassroots country sound. “A lot of the new country sound confuses people. Besides, new country’s getting’ kinda old,” he adds. “We’re trying to fit into nineties country music and still retain the original flavor.”
George Fox’s down-home attitude is reflected in his touring, which includes lots of small rural areas, because as he says, “That’s where our audiences are.” His advice to newcomers in the country music field: “Be true to your voice.” He’s true to his voice, fans and down-to-earth lifestyle. Here’s hoping he’ll put on a few award “pounds” from the new album!