About Straight South
When it comes to making great music, kindred spirits somehow seem to find each other and such is the case with Strait South. Two musicians from Niagara Falls Canada -- Steve and Kathleen Fortin --make a vibrant sound that honours country music’s roots while creatively pushing the envelope with their seasoned musicianship, and insightful songwriting. Strait South's "modern throwback" style combines Classic Country and New Country with a little Rock and eclectic infusion of Soul. As songwriters and musicians, their sound is rounded out by dazzling harmonies, relatable lyrics and electrifying power. With one listen to Strait South, it’s obvious the duo has forged a unique sound shaped by their individual influences and anchored in their own distinctive gifts.
Each grew up in a rural part of Niagara where farming, faith and family provided a firm foundation and offered a springboard for their musical aspirations. Steve Fortin originally from Welland Ontario, now resides in Niagara Falls, It was obvious that from a very young age Steve was meant to be an entertainer. Raised in a very musically inspired family, Steve aquired much of his knowledge about playing guitar from his grandfather. As a young boy his talent was discovered by Ronnie Prophet, and Steve was invited to tour with Ronnie along with Marie Bottrell at the young age of fourteen. Aside from his creative musical abilities, Steve became a very successful General Manager of many businesses in the automotive industry in the Niagara district. In addition to his day job Steve always showed a love and passion for music, and persued the entertainment business profusely. It was shortly after when Steve was approached by a fellow musician and offered a job to play guitar and sing in a band that holds a very unique genre in the music industry; Texas Swing. The band was called The Toasted Western Swing Band, members of which included Canada's most adored "Polka King" and three time Grammy Award winner Walter Ostanek. The Toasted Western Swing Band was inspired by a Nashville Award Winning Recording Band called the Time Jumpers, which members included the musical likes of Vince Gill and Paul Franklin. It wasn't too long before Steve and Walter had struck up a friendship that would soon lead to new musical opportunites for Steve. Shortly after The Toasted Western Swing Band had been performing together Walter Ostanek, being able to see just how talented Fortin was, offered Steve a position in the Walter Ostanek Band as a singer/guitar player, and Steve eagerly agreed, along with his commitment to the Toasted Western Sing Band. Steve currently is still a member of the Walter Ostanek band and travels with the band, in and around the Niagara area. The Texas Swing Band released their first Album titled Roots 66 in 2009. Later that year the band was invited to perform at one of Canada's Biggest Country Music Festivals, Havelock Jamboree, where they shared the stage with some of the greatest performers of all time such as Loretta Lynn, Deana Carter, The Good Brothers, Shanandoeh, and many more. Also that year at Havelock, Steve Fortin was given the opportunity to play guitar for The Grand Ladies of Country Music: Jean Shepard, Jeannie Seeley, Jan Howard and Helen Cornilius, which to date Steve claims was his favourite musical experience yet.
Other achievements, Fortin has been recently been named as a Grammy Nominee for being part of the Walter Ostanek band, and was invited as a guest to the Grammy Nominee Party that took place in Nashville Tennessee in 2009, among some of the guests at the Grammy Party was Brenda Lee, Montgomery Gentry, Taylor Swift, Vince Gill, Lady Antebellum, Robert Plant, Allison Kraus, and many others. Over the last couple of years Fortin has performed to many audiences and has had the privilege of appearing on shows with Hal Ketchum, Sammy Kershaw, Walter Eagan, Raul Malo of the Mavericks, Marty Raybon, Finger 11, David Wilcox and Kim Mitchell. In 2011 The Toasted Western Swing Band was invited back to The Havelock Jamboree for a second time, where Steve had the pleasure of sharing the stage once agian with music all stars such as Chad Browlee, Sawyer Brown, Joe Nichols and Martina McBride. Steve quickly found himself very involved in the music business, with show after show, and continous bookings, which led Steve to take on a full time music career which he is currently employed.
With her unique vocals and diverse musical genre, Kathleen has been making quite an impression whenever she performs. Originally from Pelham Ontario, now resides in Niagara Falls. From her youth performing with her father, an inspirational country musician, and a journey man pedal steel guitarist, Kathleen has the love and passion for music deep within her roots. Kathleen began her musical career travelling and performing with The Ukrainian Mandolin Orchestra. Kathleen was told at a very young age that she has the desire and drive to become a very talented singer/songwriter. Raised in a very musically inspired environment, Kathleen found out at a very early age that music was something that she was meant to do. In addition to her love for the arts, Kathleen persued an education in a feild of study that requires a great amount of patience and compassion, and after four years of post secondary education and numerous field experiences, Kathleen successfully graduated, and is now a registered Educational Assistant and Support Worker. Aside from enjoying her career, Kathleen has always be driven by her love for music and embraces every opportunity that she gets.
In 2009 Kathleen had a number of opportunities to travel to Music City Nashville Tennessee and explore the singer/songwriter world. "Nashville Tennessee is a city where the music and talent is of abundance, the hopes and dreams of being seen or heard is in full supply, and visiting the Music City that never sleeps is like seeing a wishing well spilling over the edge, with the best of the best musicians in the world. Its no doubt a game of chance, but instead of this discouraging me from music as a singer/songwriter, it humbles me, reminding me that the greatest musicians and songwriters have been there and done that, and have paved a way for musicians today, and given us a path to follow. Being able to see someone else's success, gives me the opportunity to learn from it and apsire on my own successes." The opportunities presented to Kathleen in Nashville, have provided her with great learning experiences, and have inspired her to write very unique material that has the extraordinary potential, to become a listeners choice. In 2009 Kathleen's creativity and love for music, performing and writing, won her an award for first place at the KWA Music Festival in the country/pop genre. At that time, being a young up coming artist in the Niagara area, Kathleen was asked to perform locally and was in need of a guitar player, being aquainted with Steve Fortin through musical connections she called apon Steve to perform at the show with her. It wasn't too long before Steve and Kathleen found that they were a better collaboration together, rather than soloists.
In July 2011, Steve and Kathleen decided to join musical forces and form a duo. After performing a number of shows together, Kathleen and Steve wanted to start writing together and Steve decided called upon a friend, Cedric (Sheriff) Cusic from Nashville, who Steve had been aquainted with, through a previous writing engagment, and thought he would be just the right person to contact. Through consistant email and phone, the three began to write and collaborate. Steve's unique ability to create different sounds and chords with the guitar, and Kathleen's lyrical and artistic ability with words, and Sheriff fueling a hook line for each song, gave them the key ingrediants they needed to begin the writing process. After a few months of back and forth via email and phone, the trio decided it was time to get together and critique their songs. In February 2012, Steve and Kathleen decided to make the trip to Nashville Tennessee and meet up with their cowriter Sheriff, and decide what was next. The trio had come up with a couple of songs that were ready for the studio.
Being lovers of collaboration Kathleen and Steve were introduced to Recording Engineer and Producer Paul Gigglioti from the 1999 Pop Duo group "Wave" Warner Music Canada. After hearing a number of songs that Paul had produced and engineered, Kathleen and Steve were confident in asking Paul to produce their two singles, "The Kiss Before Love and Southern Doll" In addition to engineering and producing these singles, Paul also assisted in the lyrical and musical arrangements of the songs. Other musicians included on the songs were Matt Keighan of the band Serena Pryne and the Mandevilles, Dave Peters, a Toronto Session Musician and Frank Pietrangelo, of the band The Madhatters, Cowboy Eddie Long, Steel guitarist for Nashville's Superstar Recording Artist Jamie Johnson, Paul Kramer, a Nashville Recording Artist and Fiddle/Madolin Musician for Country Super Stars such as Travis Tritt, Sammy Kershaw and Emmylou Harris, just to name a few. Having these two singles completed Steve and Kathleen headed back to Nashville in June 2012, where they were invited to perform downtown during the 41st Annual CMA Music Festival, which is one of the biggest country music festivals in the United States. "An opportunity and networking experience that every country musician dreams of" said Strait South.
Just Recently Strait South has been named Award Winning Duo, Winning Country Band of the Year at the 2013 Niagara Music Awards! "We feel very honoured to have achieved this recognition here in Niagara, looking forward to next year's event"!
Together with their band, Strait South, is a fast-rising Canadian Country music group known as one of the Hottest Country Acts around! Comprised of musicians with extensive playing and recording experience, this charismatic group delivers a high energy, fun filled performance with driving instrumentation and an unforgettable sound! Packing the dance floor, Steve and Kathleen light up the stage and have the audience singing along and partying the night away…always leaving their crowd wanting more!
Strait South's musical repertoire includes all the hottest country sounds, with an added spice of classic and southern rock, playing both originals and cover songs. Musical influences include the timeless classics of Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard ,June Carter and Patsy Cline to some of today's most rocking Mega Super Stars such as Taylor Swift, Jason Aldean, Gretchen Wilson, Miranda Lambert, Eric Church, Carrie Underwood and many more!
With a large fan-base, Strait South is often found rocking the hottest country rooms in Ontario, as versatile musicians, this band keeps a busy schedule playing venues of all types including casinos, arenas, rodeos, weddings, private parties, corporate event, fairs and festivals. With great pleasure, Steve and Kathleen and their crew of ace musicians have had the pleasure of supporting many top notch recording artists such as: Randy Travis, Vince Gill, Shanendoah, Martina McBride, Joe Nichols, and many others!
Always promoting their shows to the highest degree, Strait South can be found on FaceBook, Reverbnation, BandsInTown, Canadian Country Music, My Space, YouTube, Twitter and of course at www.straitsouth.com. Strait South lights up any stage and your event is sure to be a huge success with our electrifying show!
Strait South has been touring locally in and around the Niagara Region, and is currently working on the release of their first album of upbeat songs that inspire and celebrate music, family love and good times with friends. " We really enjoy working together and we love the musical chemistry that we have, it makes performing so enjoyable, and we love the way our voices gel and sound together. We don't know what the future holds but we do know it involves performing and travelling. We have lots of exciting stuff coming, so stay tuned for more of Strait South.