PERFORMANCE: Justin Hines Back at the Forks

Justin Hines performing in Grand Forks Friday, March 9. Photo courtesy of Justin Hines.
Justin Hines performing in Grand Forks Friday, March 9. Photo courtesy of Justin Hines.

Not only is Justin Hines a world-class Canadian singer and song writer, he has a unique connection to Grand Forks -- his wife Savanna is from here.

This special connection is giving our small town a very unusual opportunity to see such a famous and inspiring performer up close and personal.

Fans of folk-pop, inspirational and uplifting style music won't want to miss Justin Hines Back at the Forks! on Friday, March 9 at 7 p.m. in the Grand Forks Secondary School Auditorium.

The event will be an intimate one, not only is the theatre small, but Hines has kept his entourage small too. He is usually accompained by five or six musicians but will only have three on the Grand Forks stage.

"In live intimate shows there is a certain vulnerability you feel when you're playing music," he said during a phone interview with the Boundary Sentinel. "I enjoy it. It's like an extension of yourself. I'm always amazed people come out and see us play. It's one of the most amazing things about my job."

"I'm genuinely excited about going back (to Grand Forks). It's a special place for me. I love how vibrant the community is."

This isn't the first time Hines has been here. His last tour was in 2009 and it left a great impression on him. He was especially surprised by the unusual song requests he got from the audience.

"They were requesting songs we rarely ever do. In this show, we'll bring out more of the rare pieces."

But don't expect to see Hines dancing around the stage to his toe-tapping tunes. Hines has Larsen Syndrome, a joint dislocation condition that confines him to a wheelchair. But that doesn't get him down.

"I don't rely on choreography or special effects," he chuckles. "I just hope to make an emotional connection with people."

Music is a life long journey

Hines, 30, has been singing all his life.

His dad was a folk guitarist and such folk singers as James Taylor, Cat Stevens and Carole King inspired and influenced Hines's work.

"They were story tellers -- they told a great story. I always wanted to be that kind of an artist and I'm still influencd by that style of music," he said.

His mom was also influential in developing his musical talent. Hines spent most of the first five years of his life in a hospital because of his syndrome. His mother never left his side and spent much of her time singing to him.

Hines sang his first tune as a preschooler -- it was a well-known Willie Nelson song. He wrote his first song, a gospel tune, when he was seven. At 14 he had his big break when he won an opportunity to sing the national anthem at a Toronto Raptor's game where he realized he wanted to continue singing publicly.

"Music, for me, is something I feel before I think about it," he said from his home in Creemore, Ontario. "I'm lucky to be living out my passion through my career."

Now four albums later, dozens of tours around the world including performances in South Africa, India and Europe and at the Beijing and Vancouver Olympics, Hines never seems to miss a beat.

Besides using music to inspire, Hines also uses it to help others.

"Music allows me to reach other people. I get to work with amazing organizations to do many things."

He founded the Justin Hines Foundation for people with disabilities. His hit single, Tell Me I'm Wrong, song video was mainly filmed in Joplin, Missouri where a devastating tornado destroyed 30 per cent of the community in 2011.

His song Say What You Will became a number one hit in South Africa, where it was used in a campaign to build 20 schools in 11 days.

As his life changes, so does his musical influences. After he and his wife Savanna were married in 2008, his music took a new turn. He now sings a few "true blue love songs".

"Music is a reflection of where we are at in life," he said. "In the last few years my life has changed dramatically."

His most recent album, Days to Recall, was released in August 2011.

Tickets are $35 in advance and $40 at the door. They are available at The Source, The Grand Forks Art Gallery and Morrissey Creek Building Supplies. Proceeds to go to the Grand Forks Art Gallery.

For more information about Justin visit his official website at www.justinhines.com .

To hear and see the video for Hines's hit single, Say What You Will visit http://www.vevo.com/watch/justin-hines/say-what-you-will/CAO020900001 .