"I love muffins more than anything in the world, but there is no muffin in the world worth $3.50," says Joel Henderson, the Estevan-born musician who calls himself Poor Nameless Boy. Henderson has no problem splurging for a giant glazed cinnamon bun and extra-large coffee for the same price.
The six-foot-two, Christian youth-worker says he never imagined he would someday be planning a European tour. But, that’s his 2017 reality.
Clad in a grey bunny-hug and toque, you might think he looks like the indie-folk singer and songwriter he is. However, Henderson says he didn’t put much thought into his wardrobe since he left his day job a mere 15 minutes earlier.
"I’m not doing music for the fame or for the fortune," said Henderson, gently tearing his cinnamon bun in half. "I’m actually doing it for the opposite reason -- I find extreme value in it. I feel like I tumbled into it, to be honest."
Poor Nameless Boy released his first album, Bravery, in Canada last year. The 31-year-old felt compelled to explore the world, so he decided to showcase a few songs in Europe. His single, "Leave Myself Behind," got 400,000 streams on a Spotify Germany playlist.
Poor Nameless Boy will release the full Bravery album in Europe on Feb. 17. With the help of a label service based out of Germany called DanCan, he'll be on tour overseas shortly after that. But, he admits he is concerned about what might happen next.
Early memories of faith, family and music are what keep the singer focused. But, he didn’t always feel that way.
Four years ago Henderson only played music for fun, when he wasn’t working his day job at a youth organization "that dealt with kids from really hard backgrounds."
"That was the point that wore me down," he said.
He rolled the bottom of his cup on the coffee table, intent on not spilling. "I was in my own life dealing with my struggles. To see that in those kids every day, it was like I didn’t know what I was holding onto."
Around 2013, Henderson applied for and received the Saskatchewan 10K20 Project grant from Rawlco Radio. The funding provides 20 local musicians with $10,000 each to record, mix and master an album.
"I had some money in savings and I had some other jobs lined up. But I thought, ‘Nah, I’m going to take the summer off to breathe, think and re-examine my life,’" he said.
Many local artists collaborate with SaskMusic – which aims to create a diverse and progressive local music community. Poor Nameless Boy is a great fit.
Lorena Kelly, communications and operations manager at SaskMusic, says he has a promising future in the business.
"There are a few artists that we consider to be on the upper-echelon," said Kelly. "He’s one of the artists that we consider at the top of his game right now."
Although Henderson expressed gratitude toward SaskMusic, he says the music industry is "subjective" and "fleeting." He says his family is what keeps him grounded.
His brother is well-known country singer Chris Henderson, whose song "No Regret" was the fourth most downloaded song in Canada for the week of Jan. 17.
"The funny thing is neither of us got into music until after high-school," said Chris in a phone interview.
"With this industry, there’s no book on how it’s done. So, to have someone that readily available to bounce ideas off, or just generally have a friend who knows exactly what you’re going through, is certainly valuable," he said.
The brothers haven’t recorded a song together; however, both agree there’s no reason it won’t happen in the future.
For now, Henderson said he’ll embrace his journey through the good and bad.
"I’m probably going to end up touring more than I want to in the next couple years, but that’s a good thing," he said, readjusting his modest toque. "What I’m trying to do is build a successful career wrapped around the centre of passion."