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Airdrie musician and member of renowned Alberta band hits CCMA stage

“When we started, it was just meant to be for fun. [We thought] we can just play some rodeos around Stampede time, and the band ended up taking on a life of its own, and here we are,” Rox said.

An up-and-coming musician who hails from Airdrie recently graced the stage at the Scotia Saddledome in Calgary.

Katie Rox, a former Airdrie resident, performed at the 2022 Canadian Country Music Awards (CCMA) with her all-female country quartet, Nice Horse, on Sept. 11. The band also took home an award.

The four-piece band consists of vocalist Rox, whose claim to fame also lies in her acoustic guitar and banjo strumming skills; Tara McLeod, vocalist and electric guitarist; Brandi Sidoryk, vocalist and bassist; and Krista Wodelet, vocalist and drummer.

According to Rox, each Nice Horse band member was nominated for an award at the 2022 CCMA ceremony – a hallmark occasion for the rising stars.

“We each got a nomination for Musician of the Year, which was really unique,” Rox said. “A full band hasn’t been nominated for Musician of the Year, apparently since Prairie Oyster 30 years ago.”

Rox, an Airdrionian-turned Vancouverite, said she was nominated for Specialty Instrument Player of the Year alongside her bandmates, who received nominations in their respective categories.  

Wodelet received a nomination for Drummer of the Year, McLeod was nominated for Guitar Player of the Year, and Sidoryk was nominated for Bass Player of the Year.

The band was also nominated for Music Video of the Year, thanks to a self-made music video for a song called High School released last year. Ultimately, Nice Horse took home the top spot for the music video alongside Sidoryk, who took home the Bass Player of the Year accolade.

According to Rox, the band missed the award ceremony on Saturday, Sept. 10 – which was slated to be broadcast the next day on Sept. 11 – because of a gig in Moose Jaw they had already committed to.

“We were somewhere in the middle of Saskatchewan when we found out that we won,” Rox said of the shining moment. “We had to leave partway through the CCMAs – we weren’t able to go to the gala the night that our awards were being handed out.

“We love going to Moose Jaw to play, and so we were actually in the van headed to play a gig [when we found out],” she added. “We had to drive to play the gig and then turn around and drive right back because we had so much to do on Sunday to prepare for the broadcast.”

Upon their return, the band performed with Lindsay Ell, a Canadian country artist also hailing from Calgary, on the CCMA broadcast.

“Lindsay was performing a song called 'Right on Time' and she reached out and sent me a text and was like, ‘Hey, would you guys want to be my band for this performance that I’m doing for the awards show?’ and we were like, ‘Yes, of course,’” Rox said, adding the rest was history.

Previously, the band has played high-profile festivals across the country (including Boots & Hearts, Big Valley Jamboree, and the Calgary Stampede) and has performed internationally in Spain and France. They’ve also toured with legendary artists such as Tom Cochrane and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.

Since first coming together in 2015, Nice Horse has received numerous accolades for their work, including two CCMA wins, 10 CCMA nominations, and eight Country Music Alberta Awards.

Additionally, for two years in a row (2021 and 2022), the band was named all-genre Group of the Year at the YYC Music Awards as well as Country Artist of the Year at the Western Canadian Music Awards.

“When we started, it was just meant to be for fun. [We thought] we can just play some rodeos around Stampede time, and the band ended up taking on a life of its own, and here we are,” Rox said.

Rox added though Airdrie was just a small town when she lived there, it is now home to a bustling music scene extending but set apart from Calgary.

“Calgary has an absolutely amazing music scene, and that’s part of our home too,” she said. “Airdrie is where I’m from, but I spent a lot of time in Calgary while I was growing up and the scene there is amazing.

“There are other musicians that are working in Calgary but call Airdrie home, so there’s a community right in Airdrie.”

Rox brought up fellow Airdrie resident and country musician Steve Jevne, who is also enjoying success in the Calgary music scene these days.

“He and I went to school together from kindergarten through to graduating,” she said of her relationship to Jevne.

“The Alberta scene in general is strong – the community, the support is amazing, so to me, you don’t have to go anywhere [to make it].”

Though she now resides in Vancouver, Rox said she spends most of her time in Alberta, making and releasing new music. She added she is looking forward to releasing some new songs soon.

“It’s been a long time... obviously the pandemic put a few things on hold,” she said. “We were able to release some things – the music video that we won for was a result of how do we make a creative music video during a pandemic.”

She added Nice Horse has some new music slated for release either this year or beginning of next year, and is enjoying getting back to live performances again.

“Being able to play again, we just had a full summer of playing and then we’ve done some recording, we’re looking forward to getting that out there for people,” she said.

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