Original Published 14:03 Mar 31, 2022

By John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Local country music artist Drew Gregory has placed third in the final year of the Project Wild Country Artist Development.

Project Wild was a seven-year, $4.9 million program designed to help kickstart the international music careers of three emerging artists, annually.

The finale of this year’s program took place on March 26, which saw the Top 3 finalists, including Gregory, Kyle McKearney and Shaela Miller, gather to wrap up the project.

For Gregory, he said the winnings will be a significant boon for getting him back on his feet after trudging through the impacts of COVID-19 on the entertainment industry.

“It’s going to go a long way to making some new music and just coming out of the pandemic, it couldn’t be a better time,” said Gregory. “A lot of our income is on live (shows) with business and that was pretty hard to come by over the last couple of years. It’ll be nice to start playing again and have this to kickstart things.”

Placing third, Gregory was awarded $50,000 to help fund producing new music and get him touring again.

The overall goal, he explained, being to get enough music produced to release throughout 2022 and 2023.

“The big part of it is definitely going to be new music. We did our Barn Sessions album mid-pandemic and it was more of a broken-down acoustic thing,” said Gregory. “We want to get back into the studio and do a full out production and get some more radio singles ready.

Project Wild as a whole consisted of four challenges: a charity challenge, introduction video challenge, merchandise challenge and collaboration challenge. Participants were also required to assemble a marketing plan detailing what would be done with any winnings they were awarded.

“All those things are marked by different people and then all put together to a final mark. They knew what the order was going to be going into Saturday night (March 26) so the shows we did were just a kind of celebration and getting to play,” said Gregory. “I felt awesome about it, just the growth I think was incredible. With the money being such a motivating factor, you really put everything you possibly can into this whole project.”

Regarding the charity aspect of the program, Gregory estimates over $110,000 was raised for various charities chosen and fundraised for by the Top 12 placing artists. Gregory himself paired with the Wheatland & Area Hospice Society and hosted the Hospice Harvest Wrap-Up in November 2021.

Should the Project Wild program have continued for another year, as a Top 3 finalist, Gregory would have been ineligible to compete again.

Earlier this month, Gregory also came home from The County Music Alberta (CMAB) awards after winning the Male Horizon Artist of the year award and taking to the stage to perform during the event.

More locally, Gregory will be returning to the stage in Standard on April 8 for Nashville Night. The singer-songwriter acoustic sessions will also feature Blake Reid, Michela Sheedy and Kyle McKearney. Tickets are available online or at the door and all proceeds will be going to the Standard Community Hall.

This item reprinted with permission from Strathmore Times, Strathmore, Alberta