Kenny Hess – west coast songwriter, recording artist, touring vet and entertainment business entrepreneur – has been deeply involved in the music industry since the early 80’s when he started performing for a living. Born in small-town Saskatchewan, he began traveling the country at just 15, singing the songs of such greats as Charlie Pride, Kris Kristofferson and George Jones. It wasn’t long before Hess was singing his own songs, opening shows and sharing the stage with those same iconic artists along with the likes of Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson. Fast forward a few decades and here’s a guy who has built a multi-award-winning artist career deeply influenced by the classic country music he cut his teeth on.
A prolific songwriter, Hess was noticed in the nineties by Nashville’s legendary songwriter Harlan Howard, and his long and illustrious songwriting career was launched when he signed with Harlan Howard Songs – one of the most prestigious publishing houses in the country. Since then, Kenny has enjoyed several charting singles and has had more than 200 of his original songs recorded. That success was honoured in 2015, when he returned home to BC to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Though blessed with the soul of a story-teller and one of the biggest voices in country music, Kenny’s real strength has always been his ability to hold an audience in the palm of his hand whether it be with his country-soaked voice, wry sense of humor, or heartfelt songs of life.
Hess has performed literally hundreds of shows throughout Canada and the US, playing to both intimate theatre crowds and festival audiences numbering thousands. The size of the stage doesn’t matter – this natural born entertainer simply connects with his audience, however big or small. Kenny’s passion for performing fueled a longtime dream to produce and present live country music, and in 2009 he launched the Rockin’ River Music Fest. Based out of Merritt BC, this event has grown into a world-class country music festival in which Hess remains active today.
As a musical concept, The Songs That Wrote Country Music has been a truly organic process for Kenny, evolving out of his deep and abiding love for classic country and his behind-the-scenes industry insights – from backstage green rooms to Nashville’s Music Row writer’s rooms and all stops in between. With his musical director – CCMA ‘Producer of the Year’ Tom McKillip – and a band of award-winning musicians – all either songwriters, producers or artists themselves – Hess has created an extraordinarily entertaining show, based on the songs that grew the roots of country music, and the impact of those iconic songwriters and artists on a genre that continues to flourish today.