Country music wouldn’t exist without hardship. Classic artists in the genre are loved for their ability to lean into that pain and turn it into something golden, and Candice Ryan is one such artist. Her voice carries the undeniable authenticity of someone who has experienced the full spectrum of heartache––and lived to tell the tale.
Born in Edmonton, Alberta, to a Métis family descended from the Michel First Nation, with deep roots in the land, a young Candice began singing before she could walk. While her mother loved everything from country to metal and her father listened to blues and classic rock, Candice absorbed it all. Her talents were clear from an early age: she dreamt of being a backup singer to a powerhouse like Mariah Carey or Whitney Houston, playing the part in her living room with a second-hand guitar and a karaoke machine. After winning a singing competition in 2008, she made her performance debut on the Big Valley Jamboree’s main stage––and found herself singing for 10,000 screaming music fans. Feeling truly at home for the first time, it was a moment of clarity that would change her life.
Dedicating herself to music in earnest, Candice released her first EP, Welcome to Our World in 2013. It featured the single “I Need You,” which earned Candice four awards at the North American Country Music Association Awards in Tennessee: Female Vocalist/Entertainer of the Year, and Songwriter of the Year, as well as a Country Recording of the Year nomination at the 2014 Edmonton Music Awards. Candice has been invited to sing the national anthem at every major sports venue in the Edmonton area––fans of the Oilers, the Oil Kings, the Rush, the Prospects, the Elks will have heard her stadium-filling voice at one time or another. She’s performed on some of North America’s most iconic stages: the Winspear and the Jubilee in Edmonton, as well as Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry, Ryman Auditorium, and 3rd & Lindsley, to name a few. She was invited to sing with The Prairie States (who went on to win the $100,000 grand prize at Project WILD) and has also sung with Vince Gill & The Time Jumpers, back up singer for Clayton Bellamy’s The Congregation, and is a lead singer in the Edmonton cover band, The Nervous Flirts.
However, beneath her rising success was a painful reality. Candice is a survivor of domestic abuse, which took place over the 5 years of her marriage. Living in fear for herself and her young daughter, her music was silenced and her career halted. Then, in 2019, her husband took his own life––it was a deeply traumatic event that shook her to the core. In the dark days of the early pandemic, Candice and her now 6-year-old daughter went through trauma therapy together and found strength in one another. “I believe that children should not be left in the dark,” says Candice. “We made it through together. Today, I’m very vocal about that experience.”
After taking the time to heal, Candice found music beginning to come into her life again . From her current home, which sits on the edge of a farmer’s field overlooking the vast Alberta prairies, Candice began writing again. “I wrote about the things that were close to me, my life experiences. I was ready to be open and honest in my music––and I wanted people to see themselves in what I wrote.” and finding the confidence to share her story on The Ryan Jespersen Show and MCing events for Esquao- Institute for Advancement of Aboriginal Women and for Alberta Council for Women Shelters being a part of their Survivor Board.
Her latest collection of songs shows a vulnerability and rawness that is something new for Candice. The new album features sparse instrumentation and thoughtful arrangements that give Candice’s voice the spotlight it deserves. Candice is an inspiration to those around her. Like Dolly Parton, Shania Twain and classic country stars before her, Candice is earning a place in the hearts of country music lovers everywhere. She’s a rising star that shouldn’t be ignored.