Murray Porter remembers the day his life changed. He was about 14 years old, living in Ontario on the Six Nations Reserve.
“If you went under the covers you could sometimes catch radio stations from all over,” he says. “I heard B.B. King sing The Thrill is Gone, and that was it.”
It was then, he knew, that music would be his life’s path.
“That was my life changing moment,” he said.
But that’s not the only turn of fate that led him to music. His mother bought his sister a piano, because she wanted to take lessons.
“I would go in the room and listen,” he says. “She would try to play but she couldn’t get it right. I would go in after she left, and get it right.”
It’s a story of sibling competition and rivalry that he still enjoys telling today, and laughs heartily about the turns of events.
“She gets mad about it even now,” he says. “And if she sees this story, she’ll get mad again!”
He’s joking, of course, and adds that his sister is very supportive of his work. And that family support has helped. Porter is now a Juno-winning blues artist, having won the Juno earlier this year for Best Aboriginal Recording of the Year. Now, he’s busy promoting his newest CD, Songs Lived and Life Played.
He’ll be at Harrison Memorial Hall on Oct. 20, as part of this year’s Harrison Festival of the Arts series. Some music fans may remember his performance on the beach during the Festival of the Arts this year.
“I was the guy with the deep voice,” he said during a recent phone interview.
He’ll be bringing along his band members, Rick Boulter on guitar, Helene Duguay on bass and Chris Nordquist on drums. Porter will be on the keys, where he’s been happiest since discovering his talent by chance so many years ago.
Later this year, he’ll go to the Aboriginal People’s Choice Awards and the Western Canadian Music Awards, where he’s also nominated for numerous awards.
While Porter has obvious aboriginal roots, his music style is mainly blues and roots.
He has traveled around the world playing music, including three deployments with the Canadian Forces playing for the troops.
“I walked on the pyramids because of my music,” he says. “It’s opened so many doors for me. I’ve done things I would have never been able to do without music.”
As for the recent Juno win, it wasn’t something he was ever expecting.
“I was nominated before but I had never won,” he says. “It’s a surreal moment because no one knows until they open that envelope. You always expect to lose because you don’t want to be disappointed. We’re all deserving and it’s on the whim of the judges who will win.”
But in the end, it was just pure elation.
“To hear your name called out is really quite a moment,” he said.
Tickets are $22 and can be purchased by phone at 604-796-3664, online at www.harrisonfestival.com or in person at the Ranger Station Art Gallery in Harrison, or Agassiz Shoppers Drug Mart.