Whether it was country, blues or rock and roll, her hits or someone else's, Michelle Wright had a packed house dancing in the aisles at the Kamloops Convention Centre on Saturday night.
"I appreciate your enthusiasm. Thank you," she said to one such couple.
Back in town for the second time in a year, Wright made Kamloops her seventh stop on her Songs from the Halls tour, a celebration of her recent entry into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame.
Since the release of her self-titled debut album in 1990, Wright has sold nearly two million albums in the U.S. and Canada and enjoyed an international career that took her across North America, Europe, Africa, and Australia. She has 25 Top 10 hits and accepted more than 40 major music awards
A couple of songs into her first set of the night, Wright told the audience the tour was a way to say thank you for supporting her career. And she wanted to pay tribute to the musicians who have, and continue to, inspire her.
So she searched every musical hall of fame she could think of, carefully selecting two sets' worth of hit songs.
"We're going to take a music journey," she promised.
And Wright lived up to that promise. Early on she sang a selection from Carole King's 1971 album Tapestry — an album she listened to while learning to play guitar. She then moved into Aretha Franklin's classic You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman, capturing Franklin's style and energy with ease.
Bonnie Riatt's heartbreaking I Can't Make You Love Me is a personal favourite of Wright's, one she believes is the most vulnerable and truthful song she knows.
Wright carefully picked from her own collection of hits, wowing the audience into silence with He Would Be 16 — the story of a birth mother yearning for the son she gave up for adoption — until the thunderous applause at the song's conclusion.
"You're so kind," she said.
The evening wasn't all sad songs. More than once Wright had the audience clapping and singing along to hits like Guitar Talk or Another Good Day, a single from her next album due out in February.
She even stopped playing her guitar during one tune so everyone could participate in the chorus.
"Cute," she said in approval.