Many songwriters find success as other artists use their material, and never gain the attention of the listening public as individuals, either by design or when circumstances keep them from attaining that exposure. Such is not the case for Ron A. McNeill, a country/roots rock/Americana singer-songwriter who has had more than 60 of his songs recorded, with chart appearances in his native Canada and in Australia. For the first time, on his debut album, Waiting on the Day, Ron is able to tell his stories as both a songwriter and performer. He takes listeners on a journey through past struggles to redemption, and his heartfelt vocals resonate with an “outlaw country” vibe.
Born into a large musical family in Minto, New Brunswick, close to Canada’s eastern seaboard, Ron’s musical journey began with his family’s own band. He imbibed gospel, classic country, and old-time rock and roll, all of which have influenced his later songwriting. His dad’s stint with a country rock band during the 1970s also exposed him to the powerful connections music can create, leaving him with a desire to create some of his own.
“I started writing in my teens, but the first real song came around 2000,” Ron remembers. “Then my fourth song, ‘Halfway to Nashville,’ was picked up and recorded by Justin Ament, a Canadian Idol contestant.” The track would rise to number 78 on the Canadian country charts. By his late twenties, as he took his writing more and more seriously, he began to enjoy professional success. “I got a couple of songs on the radio up here in Canada…It was a pretty exciting thing, driving down the road in your pickup truck, flipping the stations and and you hear a guy singing your song on the radio. It was surreal…”
As he was building his catalog of recorded cuts, Ron initially would deflect people’s questions about his own performing. “A lot of people have asked me, ‘Why don’t you do your own record? When are we gonna hear you sing your songs in your voice?’ And I’ve said, ‘Well, you know, that’s not my main interest; my main interest is songwriting…” Over time, however, he realized he really did want to present his tunes in his own way. This realization arose partially from regular gigging with a local cover band, where he could occasionally showcase his original music.
When Ron finally decided to step into the musical spotlight, he had an address book full of contacts in Nashville to help him get it done right. He was poised to enter the studio in Nashville, with a bevy of Music City’s best at his disposal, when COVID travel restrictions locked the border up tight. Not to be denied, Ron and crew instead drew on the wonders of modern technology, with Ron cueing up the click track and laying down his vocals and guitar in Canada, sending the files to the US, then connecting with the studio via Skype to guide the recording process. Despite the challenges presented by a pandemic, Waiting on the Day, took shape, ending the wait for Ron’s many fans who wanted to hear him present his songs, his way.