Two-time Olympian John Wort Hannam will represent his home town, province and country this month in London, England.
The Fort Macleod singer-songwriter, who also performed at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, is part of an Alberta cultural contingent.
Wort Hannam will make the most of the opportunity as a spokesman for the place he calls home.
“Not that anyone voted me in or appointed me to speak for the town, province or country, but in many ways I feel like I am an unofficial ambassador for these areas,” Wort Hannam said. “I love to represent Fort Macleod, Alberta and Canada and sing songs about where I’m from.”
The singer-songwriter doesn’t know what process led to his selection by the Alberta government, but he jumped at the invitation.
Wort Hannam and fiddler Scott Duncan of Calgary will give two performances in Trafalgar Square.
“I won’t write a set list until the day of the performance but as the only rural artist invited from Alberta, most of the songs I’ll choose will represent the rural, small town experience,” Wort Hannam said.
The rural, small town experience is where Wort Hannam excels as a singer-songwriter.
Wort Hannam’s album “Queen’s Hotel” earned a 2010 Juno Award nomination for roots and traditional album of the year.
“Queen’s Hotel” was also named contemporary album of the year in the 2010 Canadian Folk Music Awards and was nominated for a 2010 Western Canadian Music Association award for roots recording of the year.
Wort Hannam won the Calgary Folk Festival songwriting competition in 2006, 2007 and 2009 and in 2005 was nominated as best new emerging artist and outstanding singer in the 2005 Canadian Folk Music awards.
The invitation to perform at the London Olympics is another feather in the cap of the Fort Macleod singer-songwriter.
“The Olympics is such a global event that playing them certainly makes an impact on how people perceive your career, and in this business how people perceive your success is sometimes more important than actual success.”
“I do know that some music industry people have been invited to the event so the hope is that the gig will set me up for increased touring in the UK.”
In addition to the two performances in Trafalgar Square, Wort Hannam has shows booked at a pub called The Constitution, at The Green Note in Camden, and a third one in Stratfordshire.
Once he has finished those performances Wort Hannam, who is travelling without his wife Jenny and their son Charlie, will fly to Jersey in the Channel Islands.
“This is where I was born and I have cousins there who I will visit, and also take some time to sit by the ocean and tend to my grandparents’ grave sites.”
Wort Hannam doesn’t have tickets and is “too impatient” for line-ups so he’ll likely give the Olympic sports events a miss.
Besides, the London Olympics don’t offer competition in Wort Hannam’s favourite sports.
“When I was a kid I went to camp and I kicked butt in the beanbag toss and the egg-and-spoon relay,” Wort Hannam said with a laugh. “If those were Olympic sports I think I would make the team and win gold. I’m also pretty adept at Twister. I’m not sure if there is a Canadian men’s Twister team, though.”
All joking aside, Wort Hannam takes his role as ambassador seriously and appreciated the invitation from the Alberta government.
“One of the perks about being a touring musician is exactly that — touring,” Wort Hannam said. “I love to travel, see new things, try new foods and meet new people. After all the airplanes I have flown on I am still excited every time I step over the threshold and find my seat. I think I have gypsy blood flowing in my veins.”