Next ShowJan 26, 2019
Barry Ward is a western singer. Even more importantly, Barry Ward is a cowboy, who sings. Anyone can become a cowboy singer. Just get a pair of boots, a big hat and a guitar, and you’re all set. If you’re going to sing cowboy songs, it sure does help to know about what you sing. It’s called “credibility.”
Barry grew up on the western plains of Kansas, near the small town of Copeland, about 40 miles west of the famous cowtown, Dodge City. His great-grandparents settled the place in the late 1880s, shortly after the buffalo had been replaced by cattle. Barry, or “Bear” as he has come to be known by his friends, worked alongside his father and grandfather, working cattle and also doing farm work. To keep food on the table, many ranchers had to diversify and start raising crops. These rugged men of the land became equally at home in a saddle or on the seat of a tractor.
Some cowboys would shy away from letting people know they were also farmers. Perhaps the life of a farmer doesn’t seem as romantic as that of a cowboy. Bear doesn’t have a problem with it. In fact, he embraces it. He writes most of his own songs and those songs deal, not only with his experiences as a cowboy, but with his experiences as a farmer, such as driving a combine during the wheat harvest. Add to that a strong faith and a love for his country and you’ve got a guy who’s overflowing with credibility.
So how does a guy from rural western Kansas become a successful western singer? Being a good singer and songwriter helps. But years of drought, the high cost of fuel and fertilizer, and government bureaucracy pushed things along. With sadness in their hearts and tears in their eyes, Barry Ward and his wife, Victoria, finally had to let go of the old homestead. However, you can’t keep a good cowboy down for long. Bear grabbed his guitar and began singing for whoever would listen. At first it was at Farm Bureau meetings and livestock auction barns, but by 2003, he had performed at the Olympics and Carnegie Hall.
In 2010, Barry became the first cowboy singer to ever perform in Cameroon, Africa. It was an experience he’ll never forget and he was so thankful when he got back on American soil. With a humble attitude and an “aw shucks” smile, Barry never set out to win any awards. Most likely, he never even thought about them. Those accolades came anyway. This past March, he won 2014 Male Vocalist of the Year with the Academy of Western Arstists and last November he won the 2013 Male Performer of the Year award given by the Western Music Association. And in 2012, the Academy of Western Artists named “Eli Crow” Song of the Year.