Skip to content

Near-death accident in his wake, Surrey musician aims for Top of Country crown

Tony Stevens is a semifinalist in contest among Canadian country musicians
Top of the Country contest semifinalist Tony Stevens lives in Surrey. (Contributed photo)

Surrey-based musician Tony Stevens is among eight semifinalists in a contest to find Canada’s next top country performer, with song recording and fan voting to come.

He almost didn’t live to see it happen, after surviving a boating accident a decade ago.

Stevens, 39, is one of two B.C. contestants in SiriusXM’s 2024 Top of the Country, along with Vernon resident Zach McPhee. The other six semifinalists are from Alberta, Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba.

They’ll all record an original track to be shared with the public, in hopes of collecting enough online votes to advance to the next round of the contest.

Top of the Country finalists receive “the mentorship opportunity of a lifetime (in Nashville) and a chance to perform in front of some of the best crowds in country music.” The $25,000 grand-prize winner will be announced in September.

If he wins, Stevens would follow in the footsteps of fellow Surrey guy Tyler Joe Miller, who won the 2021 SiriusXM Top of the Country contest.

• RELATED: ‘Holy smokes!’: Surrey musician reacts after winning $25K ‘Top of the Country Contest’.

Stevens is a singer-songwriter “whose passion for music has been a driving force in his life,” says his bio on the contest website (

“Although his musical journey has taken some detours, a brush with mortality reminded him of the power of music to connect people. His most recent single, ‘Whiskey In Colorado,’ is currently taking airwaves by storm, proving to be a pivotal song for Tony and his career.”

Raised in Coquitlam, Stevens moved to Surrey as a 13-year-old, and in his 20s took a break from music to get married, start a family and, because he’s in the construction business, renovate a house.

Eleven years ago he was seriously injured in a wakeboarding accident in Tulameen, northwest of Princeton.

“I blacked out, thought I just had a bad headache the next day,” Stevens recalled. “I was working a lot and one thing led to another. My body couldn’t rest and recover from it, and I had internal brain bleed. It got to the point where the bleeding was pooling in my skull and pushing my brain into the other side of my skull, creating blindness, basically. I couldn’t walk properly. I was rushed to the hospital and spent a week there and avoided doing super-invasive surgery, but it was a long road to recovery.”

After hospitalization, he was on bed rest for weeks.

“I just got to thinking, you never know how long you have in this life and when your day is up, so why not just go and do the things that you’re passionate about? So, my wife and I chatted about it, probably eight or 10 years ago, and I kinda just took the first steps from there to get into music, my own music.”

In coming weeks Stevens will record a song for Top of the Country contest voting, then wait to see if he makes it to the next round.

“It’s good timing,” he said, “with ‘Whiskey in Colorado getting legs at radio and doing well, getting some traction. I’m super-excited to be part of this contest.”

CLICK HERE to listen to “Whiskey in Colorado” on

His “Whiskey” song is about “being a million miles away from family, the people you love, that lonely feeling,” Stevens explained, “but with the juxtaposition of having that passion, that pull, on the music side that just makes you wanna do that as well. It’s a bit of push-and-pull of the mind and heart.”

This summer, Stevens is booked to perform at the final Gone Country benefit concert in Cloverdale, July 20 at Bill Reid Millennium Amphitheatre, along with Dallas Smith, Karen Lee Batten, Chris Buck Band and others. Concert details are on

Info on notes that Stevens is managed by Melisse Kelly and has a deal with Willing Records.

SiriusXM’s sixth annual contest is held in partnership with the Canadian Country Music Association.

The six non-B.C. contest semifinalists are Robert Adam (Bonnyville, Alberta), Alexa Goldie (Kingston, Ontario), Parker Graye (Orillia, Ontario), Trudy (Montreal, Quebec), Mariya Stokes (Stavely, Alberta) and Jade Turner (Misipawistik Cree Nation, Manitoba). Bios are posted on

Tom Zillich

About the Author: Tom Zillich

I cover entertainment, sports and news for Surrey Now-Leader and Black Press Media
Read more