PROSPECT -- Ruth Manning has recently returned from the Josie Awards for independent artists in Tennessee.
The Prospect native was nominated for Music Video of the Year for her Remembrance Day tribute, Unsung Heroes. For those who have followed Manning’s musical career, this recent award nomination comes as no surprise.
Manning says she was born into a musical family and started singing around the same time she learned to talk. Her father, Herb Best, was the musical inspiration for the family as he came from a musical family with siblings who played instruments and sang.
Although she didn’t often hear him play his guitar or fiddle, Manning says he was always singing as he worked around the family farm, and constantly encouraged her and her sisters to sing.
'Often entertained people who visited our home'
Manning’s three older sisters sang together for many years and called themselves “The Best Girls,” so when Manning was born, she naturally became part of the group, singing at countless variety shows, as part of the Apple Blossom Parade, performing at weddings, attending The Triple D Bluegrass and Old Time Music Festival and many other events around the Annapolis Valley.
Manning says music was always a huge part of her life.
“We often entertained people who visited our home and many times our dad would have us recording songs on a cassette to send to relatives in the US or other parts of Canada,” she says.
Through school, Manning was involved in school bands and choirs, took piano lessons, participated in what was then known as the Kings County Music Festival, and won many music-related awards. After high school, Manning attended the Nova Scotia Teachers College and performed there on many occasions at coffee houses and other college events.
“I also met some great musicians and singers there, such as Carlos Spinazolla and Natalie MacMaster,” she says. “I learned a lot from watching others play and playing along.”
At this point, Manning says she began writing a few songs. Many of the tunes were tributes to her dad, who died when she was only 14 years old.
Sharing the stage with stars
Over the next two decades, Manning performed in several singing contests and joined a few bands, including ones with Frank and Nancy Lowe for more than 18 years.
During her years with the Lowes, their band Sidekixx shared the stage with names such as Alan Jackson, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, and the Larry Mercy Trio - to name a few.
“We also had the great pleasure of being the back-up band for Tommy Cash when he did a concert in Halifax in 2008,” she adds.
In 2005, Manning participated in a singing contest in Dartmouth and the final prize was a trip to Nashville. She won that contest and travelled there singing on the stage of the world-famous Tootsies Orchid Lounge as well as the Nashville Palace. Earlier this year, Manning returned to Nashville to sing at the Nashville Nightlife dinner theatre, where the band was made up of several musicians that toured with Tammy Wynette and George Jones for more than 10 years.
Trip to Nashville
Now, Manning has just returned from another trip to Tennessee to attend the Josie Awards for artists that are not signed to a major record label.
Manning submitted a video for a song that she wrote for Remembrance Day called “Unsung Heroes.”
“This video was produced by my very talented friend Ryan Roberts and was posted on Facebook and YouTube,” she says. “On Facebook, it has achieved over 25,000 views.”
Manning says the awards show was amazing. It was held in the Celebrity Theatre at Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. She says there was a red-carpet entrance with a large number of photographers from the media, many from Nashville. The show itself lasted for four hours and was packed with a huge number of awards, as well as incredible performances. She says she met some incredible people and made some great connections.
“I was really inspired and encouraged by the success and recognition of independent artists. I was able to connect with people who will play my music on their radio shows in Nashville and other parts of the US.”
Although she did not win the category for the Video of the Year, Manning says it was a huge honour to be nominated and to be a part of an amazing event.
Manning works as a consultant of student services with a focus on autism and learning centres for the Annapolis Valley Regional Centre for Education by day, and headlines as a musician by nights and weekends. She sings with the group Ruth Manning and the Prospectors, where she is the lead singer, performing many of her original songs as well as country songs from across the decades.
For any aspiring musicians out there, Manning says she would encourage young people to learn as much as possible about the industry, don’t give up and never underestimate what great things can happen.
If you go: Manning will be performing in Berwick Oct. 19 at the opening of Phase II of the Kings Mutual Century Centre and will be singing her Unsung Heroes tribute song on Oct. 26 for the Soldiers Social at the Cornwallis Ballroom in support of CentreStage Theatre and the Kings County Museum. Other performance dates can be found on her website, ruthmanning.com.
Watch Ruth Manning’s nominated video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8LYldh67sH8.