Thunderstorm Artis’ musical journey has taken him from the island of Oahu to the popular televised vocal competition “The Voice” to the city of Portland to, on Saturday night, the stage at The Belfry in Sisters.
And the next stop’s a big one: A spring move to Nashville, where opportunities await that could kick Artis’ music career into an even higher gear.
“I’ve been flying back and forth to Nashville for a while now, and it looks like I might be getting a record deal there, so it feels like now’s the time to move my family over there,” said Artis, who has an 8-month-old child with his wife. “It’s bittersweet to leave my brother and my nieces and everything, but we just feel like it’s time for the next step.”
Artis’ brother is Ron Artis II, himself a Portland-based singer-songwriter whose profile has grown significantly over the past several years. The two grew up in a famous musical family in Hawaii before moving to the mainland — first Ron, then Thunderstorm near the end of 2019, at the same time he was competing on “The Voice,” where he impressed the mega-celebrity judges and made the finals of the show.
Since then, he has been writing, recording and touring from his home base in Portland, including several stops in Central Oregon, where both audiences and fellow artists have shown nothing but support, Artis said.
“Everyone there has just been really great to us,” he said. “We accumulated a lot of fans and a following in Hawaii, but the Pacific Northwest has definitely been an amazing launching pad — so beneficial, so loving — especially the singer-songwriter community in Bend and Sisters. I can’t tell you how much they’ve influenced me and encouraged me.”
Also encouraging: His recent trips to Nashville, where he has management and an agent in place, and he’s had the chance to write with other professional songwriters and record his music in one of the epicenters of the American music industry. In addition to making connections, Artis has seen his own songwriting skills grow, he said.
“Up until about three years ago, I did everything myself, right?” he said. “And so it’s been really cool to open myself up to that world, to work with other writers and see their perspective, and to dig deeper into what I’m trying to say musically, who I want to be musically, and what I want to leave behind.”
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Ben Salmon is a Bend-based music journalist and host of Left Of The Dial, which airs 8-10 p.m. Thursdays on KPOV, 88.9 FM and streams at kpov.org. You can find him on Bandcamp and Twitter at @bcsalmon.
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