Paul Biro might be a big name in the country music business, but home in Summerland, he’s happy to be just another member of the community.
Biro, a music promoter, is nominated for the Canadian Country Music Association Ron Sakamoto Talent Buyer Or Promoter Of The Year.
“No one really knows what we do. It is not like we talk about it that much,” said Biro, whose family has made their home in Summerland for eight years. “We go to the Baptist Church here and we have lots of great friends. I throw a light up party every year and that is always fun.
“People here know me better as being the guy with the light display at the end of the street.”
Biro works with one of the biggest names in Canadian Country music, Ron Sakamoto, who the award was named for.
“We operate two companies as partners with Ron and Shawn Sakamoto,” said Biro, who is vice-president of the agency division. “We operate Sakamoto Agencies and we operate a company called the Community Touring Alliance, which is a regional promoting company.”
The firm represents a range of Canadian artists, including The Washboard Union, who are up for four CCMA awards themselves, the most nominated group. Other notables include MacKenzie Porter, nominated for CCMA Female Artist of the Year, country music singer-songwriter and TV host Beverly Mahood and many more.
“I’ve been doing this in Canada for over 20 years, primarily out of Calgary, but I originally grew up in Oliver,” said Biro. “It took me 25-plus years to get back here but we are back and living in Summerland.”
Working from a community like Summerland instead of a major city isn’t too difficult, according to Biro. With an extensive background in the business and technology to stay connected, he said people are more accepting of remote offices.
“It does take some travel, but I am pretty established and my partner, Ron Sakamoto, has been the biggest country promoter in Canada for 45-plus years. Between all of the people in our organization, we are pretty well-known in the business,” said Biro. “I think that nowadays, it is not just the technology, but society themselves have come to this place where people go oh, as long as you are getting the work done, then that is all that matters.”
Biro has high praise for his partner.
“One of the awards I am nominated for is the Ron Sakamoto Talent Buyer Or Promoter of the Year. He has actually won it so many times, the award named after him, that they are not giving it to him anymore,” said Biro. “He is a wonderful man and just been the heart and soul, in many ways, of country music in Canada.”
Biro admits to loving the deal-making part of the business, but said it is helping the artists reach their potential that really drives him.
“I have a real passion for art and music. I think sincere art of any form is the best of humanity. I think we shine at our very best through sincere art and we show the best of ourselves,” said Biro.
“I feel that I am called to encourage the creative spirit on every level. I am a backyard artist myself. I don’t sing, but I draw and I paint. The creative spirit, that is the part that was really driving me.”
Biro started planning his move back to Summerland after his first son was born .
“We just found that Calgary was getting so big. I brought my wife out here and she loved the environment and I still have a little bit of family here,” he said. “We just love living in the Okanagan.”
Biro said he still can’t believe where he is now, from starting out in a tiny one-bedroom apartment in Calgary in 1991.
“It has been really great, and I’ve never been in it for the money. I make an okay living and life is good for us, but it is about the art and trying to add value and live a really great life and adding value to our community here and our community in the country music industry,” said Biro. “Just living a decent life, that is what it is all about.”
Joining Biro in the list of nominees is Penticton’s Jim Cressman, president of Invictus Entertainment who is nominated for Record Company Person of the Year and Talent Buyer of the Year.