How does someone get from Fox Island River, Newfoundland (pop. 198) to Nashville? The best person to ask is Jason Benoit, one of Canada’s fastest rising country stars. With his undeniable talent as a singer/songwriter, combined with his magnetic stage presence and devotion to his growing fan base, Benoit has already defied the odds.
His run of hit singles is set to continue with the release of “All Wanna Party” on July 27 through JV Records/Sony Music Canada. A barn-burning track that lives up to its title, “All Wanna Party” follows on the heels of Benoit’s previous smashes “Crazy Kinda Love,” “Waves,” “Cold Day Comin’” and the Top 10 charting “Gone Long Gone.” Benoit is also continuing to stoke excitement for his soon-to-be-released full-length debut album by winning over more and more new fans with each show.
Now represented by Invictus Entertainment, Benoit has been all over Canada with festival appearances at Cavendish Beach, Boots ‘N Hearts, Trackside (London ON), and Manitoulin Island, on top of sharing stages with Brett Kissel and Tim Hicks, as well as headlining the 2016 edition of the Young Guns of Country tour.
Although he’s been writing songs and performing since he was 17, it’s only been in the last several years that Benoit, now in his early thirties, has had a chance to really show what he can do. That momentum initially began building a decade ago when Benoit started posting original material on Facebook, which caught the attention of his future manager Jenson Vaughan.
Together, they began developing Benoit’s cache of original demos, although an unexpected breakthrough came during one session when Benoit casually launched into singing “This Is What It Feels Like,” the Grammy-nominated song Vaughan co-wrote with Dutch DJ Armin van Buuren and Canadian vocalist Trevor Guthrie. Benoit’s countrified take on the track suddenly opened up a whole new realm of creative possibilities for him, while introducing him to a brand new audience through its inclusion on the Sony Music compilation Country Heat 2014, alongside hits by the likes of Brad Paisley, Blake Shelton, Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert.
“I just started messing around with singing the song in between takes of my originals,” Benoit says. “When Jenson heard me doing it in my style, I saw the light bulb go on above his head and we recorded it right away. We sent it to Sony and they loved it, and that’s what really started opening up a lot of doors.”
Benoit re-recorded “This Is What It Feels Like” in Nashville with producer Dave “Dwave” Thomson, one of Music City’s many Canadian transplants whose credits range from Toronto electro-pop artist Lights to country duo Autumn Hill. The pair teamed up again for Benoit’s second Top 30 single, “Crazy Kinda Love,” released in August 2014, followed by “Gone Long Gone” in March 2015.
The success of “Gone Long Gone” led to Benoit’s celebrated appearance at the 2015 Cavendish Beach Music Festival, where he was named the winner of the Canadian Country Music Association’s Discovery Atlantic Award. This was soon followed by a nomination in the CCMA’s Rising Stars category, and a performance at the awards gala in Halifax. But, accolades aside, Benoit’s natural ability to command an audience whenever he performs live is proof enough that Benoit’s star is truly on the rise.
“That first time playing at Cavendish Beach was really the biggest and most exciting show I’d ever done to that point,” Benoit says. “It felt really special being on stage in front of that many people. It’s such an adrenaline rush that you can’t help but put everything you’ve got into what you’re doing.”
As Jason Benoit continues his path toward releasing his debut album, there are surely more defining moments such as these soon to come. But nothing happens without the music to back it up, and with “All Wanna Party,” he once again displays his uncanny ability to write a song that appeals to everyone. In some ways, that just comes with being a small-town Newfoundland kid. When music is all you’ve got, you put your entire heart and soul into it. Whether he’s alone with his acoustic guitar and a pen and paper, or on stage in front of thousands, making a connection with listeners is all that matters to Benoit, and that will never change.