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TV's Meet The Wilsons stars Fanshawe grad

T.K. Dallman | Interrobang | Lifestyles | March 22nd, 2010

Dave Wilson, country music singer and CMT reality star has rejection letters from every major record label in Toronto.

“[They're] in my parents basement,” he laughed while in Kitchener-Waterloo, where he was doing a week of press interviews, “I'm going to make a collage of them!”

That struggle for success has been a key part of Wilson's life, now documented through the CMT Canada series, Meet The Wilsons. It follows Dave and his wife Kortney as they try to make it as a country duo, while working full time jobs and supporting three children. It's a refreshing change from other reality series that cash in on existing celebrity. As a middle class family, the Wilsons are just trying to follow their musical dreams.

“Once we left our record deals and our publishing deals, [the industry] kind of patted us on the head and said ‘It's really hard to make it with kids.' Almost like ‘good luck.' And they were right in a way. It is really hard, but we're stubborn and determined. [So] we put the plan together for the show and it got turned down by everybody. Then, four days before Christmas, Ted Ellis at CMT Canada said ‘I want it.'”

The reason Ellis loved it, Wilson asserts, is “because it's very family. Very PG. And the reason it was turned down by every network in the [United] States is because Kortney and I [don't] cheat on each other, we don't fight all the time, we don't ignore our kids or slap them around, and that's the stuff that gets the ratings up, and we can't fake it. I can't just start fighting with her because [of ratings]. You have to get to know us, then root for us, because as you'll see, just because we have a TV show does not mean we are going to be famous radio celebrities.”

Still, being virtually unknown to the greater audience has been a difficult challenge for the Wilsons, and the family have had to work hard to win over fans, endearing themselves to viewers with humour, kindness and talent. But it's working. Now in its second season, Meet The Wilsons is quickly becoming the flagship show for CMT Canada; much more than this former Fanshawe student of Music Industry Arts could have ever imagined. Still, figures from his past make sure to keep their careers in check.

“I still talk to Terry [McManus, professor of music industry arts] every once in a while. I'm an old guy. I graduated in '92. But Terry still calls me, like, when the show came out, and he didn't call to say ‘Hey congratulations! Good on you,' he called and said, ‘This is what I think you should be doing. You need more music. This is what you shouldn't be doing,' and it's really funny. He will always advise and council.”

And even though the Wilsons now reside in Nashville, Tennessee, they return to Canada frequently, for both family and business.

“Kortney and I joke that we both moved to the States and married Canadians, like, why did I even have to leave to do that? [And now I've spent] 10 years swinging the bat trying to make it, and the only place I get recognized is when I go home to see my folks,” Wilson laughed.

And while it's true that the Wilsons' success, so far, has been found primarily in Canada, they don't plan on moving back, at least for the time being.

“Nashville is the only place where you can actually say ‘Hey...I'm a songwriter,' and they don't look at you like, ‘Aw, you poor guy.' So I wish Toronto or Vancouver or Ottawa had a Nashville, a music row. But I think the city almost has to be built around it. You can't just go in and go, ‘This is what we're doing with Bloor Street!'”

Still, Canadian country music fans can be happy that we have some of the most kind, talented and hard-working individuals representing us in both Nashville and across the country on CMT.

Watch new episodes of Meet The Wilsons every Sunday on CMT Canada at 10 p.m. and fall in love with the Wilson family.
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