So there’s a young singer from a small Ontario municipality whose name starts with “J.”
He exudes a non-threatening “Teen Bop” pretty boy image and has a decent singing voice which lets him win a small-time talent competition.
His YouTube song cover is discovered by a record executive and, while still a teen, lands a deal and begins touring, while helped out by an older recording artist.
There are at least two people that fit this description: Justin Bieber and Jordan McIntosh. The difference is, McIntosh is a country singer. He’s nowhere near as famous – yet. And he’s coming to Fort St. John to play Oct. 11 at the Lido.
That doesn’t mean McIntosh doesn’t have Bieber-level ambition, though.
“There are a lot of similarities (between myself and Bieber),” said McIntosh. “I would love to have that success that he’s had, and I only hope one day I could get to that point.”
McIntosh grew up in Carleton Place, a community just outside of Ottawa with a population about a third of Fort St. John’s. It was an urban area, he admits, but his family owns a dairy farm, and his dad’s cousin runs it. He grew up listening to country radio and his sister’s singing voice.
“When we were younger, I always just followed her around,” said McIntosh. “I was still at the age where i did everything that she did so I thought, ‘Oh, I could start singing now.’”
He kept at it, travelling out to shows and winning at the Walt Disney World American Idol Experience in 2010.
The next year, at 16, his Youtube cover of Lonestar’s “Amazed” was discovered by a record label. (Bieber’s cover of a Chris Brown song was discovered when he was 14.)
For his part, McIntosh is grateful for the success he’s received.
“It’s pretty cool to be doing it at that age,” he said. “We’re two and a half weeks in and it’s more than I could imagine ... I feel really lucky that I get to do this stuff at such a young age.”
McIntosh is also, in a way, lucky for the time that he’s coming in. Far from the days of trains, cheating hearts and steel guitars, it’s become more about trucks, partying and electrics.
“The genre is trying to make all kinds of different audiences happy, and while that makes it more interesting to my ear, it’s bound to anger some fans as well,” wrote country critic Grady Smith in 2012 – just as McIntosh was really getting his start.
McIntosh seems to be riding that wave pretty well. In concerts, he started performing Lil Wayne’s “How To Love” as a country song. It seemed to be a hit, so McIntosh made a video that’s gotten more than 200,000 views.
McIntosh enthusiastically embraces a changing country music scene.
“I love that music is constantly changing and country music is getting younger. The bands are getting younger, the people in country music are taking more risks with the way they’re singing, and I love that,” he said.
“Things can’t stay the same forever ... I just think (these changes are) going to help the brand and the genre grow in popularity.”
Popularity isn’t always helpful, though. Bieber’s popular, no doubt, but he’s been in trouble with both the law and the tabloid press.
“People get caught up in the business, and it’s easier to get caught up with it, especially at a young age,” said McIntosh. “He was put in the public eye when he was 14. Obviously there’s been a lot of negative press around the guy, and I just think of getting away from that and staying away from that.”
He went on to say that “It comes down to the people around you and how you let them treat you and my family. Like I said, they keep me grounded – they just remind me of the true values in life and where I come