Steele traded skates for guitar

LYN COCKBURN

, Last Updated: 2:38 AM ET

Where in the world is Hines Creek. North of Grande Prairie, north of Fairview says Duane Steele, a Canadian Country Music Association nominee for Male Vocalist of the Year.

Ask him the population of his hometown and he says "On a Saturday night?" And then he answers himself. "450," he says.

Steele may have grown up in a small town, but his family's house was bursting at the seams.

"Ten of us, 10 brothers and sisters," he says. "It was insane!"

But looking back, he says his growing up years were good training for the patience needed to get to the top in the country music scene.

Steele can't remember a time when he didn't love music ... and hockey.

"I was a Canadian boy growing up in a small town, so of course I played hockey," he says adding that for awhile he thought his career might be on the ice.

He first performed in public in a talent contest at the age of nine, but his first love continued to be hockey. Only in his late teens did he choose music over the puck and except for a year or two as a trucker and sometime reforester, he has made music his life.

After paying his dues in bars and honky-tonks all across Canada and after co-writing Michelle Wright's hit Guitar Talk, he put out his first CD, P.O. Box 423, last February.

It's a combination of ballads like The Trouble with Love, rambunctious songs like Anita Got Married and quirky ditties like Two Names On An Overpass. All are love songs.

"Yes, I do think male country singers are singing a lot more love songs now," he says. "Maybe in the past it wasn't quite so easy for men to show that kind of emotion."

Steele, along with Shania Twain, Terri Clark and Lisa Brokop, have aided in the Canadian conquest of Nashville.

"Of course it's exciting and I am very proud to be a Canadian."


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