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Monday, January 16, 2012

Signature Boots with a Signature Voice

Juni Fisher
     Story by Roger Edison

Juni Fisher is a remarkable entertainer whose signature voice has earned her several awards throughout the decades, including 'Entertainer of the Year' for 2011 through the Western Music Association. In addition to Juni's award for 'Best Entertainer' she was also the 2011 recipient of 'Best Female performer' and 'Best writer/song'  by the WMA, what Juni calls, "Winning the triple crown."

As she takes the stage wearing her authentic western outfits, one quickly realizes Juni also expresses her heritage of true western life not only by her music, as well the fashion of her attire. She strums a few notes on her Larrivee Guitar, harmonizing her voice opening the show with the song "Yakima" from her 2010 CD release 'Let' er Go, Let' er Buck, Let' er Fly.' The song is about the character, Yakima Canutt, an early Hollywood stunt man, Maverick and Rodeo Champion. Her deep emotion brings alive the story as her melody reflects her spirit as a modern day troubadour. 

Her heavily booked concerts range from private parties to large western gatherings that celebrate the 'Cowboy Way.' Places like Spirit of the West Cowboy Gathering, Ellensburg, WA or opening for Michael Martin Murphey in Palm Springs, California, Juni entertains from coast to coast.  Many of her shows are tied in with various events which preserve the heritage of western life.  

Added entertainment like chuck wagon cooking, Cowboy reenactments of gun fights, trick roping and horsemanship are frequently part of many western events. Vendors line their tables presenting crafts to the visiting public, while the stage is devoted to the cowboy poets, story tellers and western bands where Juni's music plays a big part for these gatherings which draw crowds in by the thousands. 

Many of her ballads are stories that have been passed along to her from her dad about the good ole days as her grandpa busted horses for Calvary remounts, or about her great grandfather, John E. Overstreet, born in Missouri who worked the cattle drives as a young teen before moving to Colorado. Her great grandfather would later marry to Christina Carlson Jarr, widow of Alphonse Jarr living out his cowboy dreams where his legacy help mold the historic Jarr Creek ranch in Sedalia, Colorado. 

Growing up on the family farm, Juni's dad, the late Howard Fisher worked their orange tree orchards in the San Joaquin Valley edging Strathmore, California. Today, her mom, Florence Ophelia "Buzz" Fisher-Burtner continues expanding, providing oranges to Sunkist. "Buzz" was recognized by the California Agricultural Leadership Foundation in 2009 receiving an award honoring women in agriculture.

On the farm, Juni would learn to play the guitar by age seven and write her first song the following year. Together with her two sister's, they would perform as a trio singing hits from the late 50's - early 60's group 'New Christie Minstrels' and various other folk music.  "My Dad had the desire for me to play music, but my parents were non-musical. They allowed me to take lessons, even though we were a working class farm family. My parents did without luxuries so that we could have music if we wanted it," states Juni.

Juni would become  involved with 4H and received her first pair of Cowboy boots from her mom as an eighth grade junior high graduation gift.  The Acme roughouts would get lots of wear as Juni performed horse shows and became the FFA team captain for the Livestock and Horse judging once in high school. It wasn't long before she wore out the pair of Acme's and replacing with a smooth calf skin boot. Her dad had a boot shining kit and it didn't take long before Juni was polishing her boots like a pro. She encourage team mates to polish their boots buffing the toes on the back of their trousers before presenting oral interviews with FFA judges.

After graduating from high school at Strathmore, she went on to studied Equine Science at the College of the Sequoias in Visalia, California and participated in Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) where she won awards through the Intercollegiate and Quarter Horse shows. To cover entry fees and have extra money, Juni sung big band standards in a dance orchestra.

Leaving college, Juni apprenticed training cow horses and as a catch rider. In 1981, life was taking a low spot for Juni.  She had just been laid off from work due to a lack of horses to train, plus making things worst, she was going through a divorce. In addition of bad things to top her list, her Roper style boots desperately needed to be resoled.  Taking her last $100 to cover entry fees for the 1981 IARCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity, Juni needed to become focus if she had any chances of winning.

Long time friend Greg Ward, a renown horse trainer advised Juni to visualize using a mental exercise. A process of positive thinking that many athletes use focusing on self-affirmation techniques for successful competitions. Greg told Juni to perform her routine in her thoughts until she saw herself  perform the routine with total perfection.  Juni did just that focusing on her futurity exercise. As her entry number was called, Juni states, "I entered the arena an began the pattern. Each lead change was just as I had pictured them in my mind. The stops were as good as I had dared to dream, and the turnarounds (some people call them spins) were smooth, pretty, and flawless." She won the futurity event becoming the first female to win the championship. Additionally, her horse was the first mare to also win this event.  Taking her $1,100 prize money, she resoled that pair of ropers and added a new pair of boots to her collection. 

In 1983, Juni won her first Bridle Horse Championship at the Monterey Classic while working on a cow calf operation, and running a roping arena. Her bridle horses did day work on the ranch, and competed weekends. Friends often gathering after events or around camp fires, Juni was there with her guitar playing music as she sang songs about the west which she learned from her father. 

She moved to Santa Ynez, CA. in 1984 to train cutting horses, taking her blossoming songwriting skills with her.  She also worked at  Jedlicka's Saddlery in Santa Barbara. The Saddle shop is a high-end retailer offering equestrian products for Western and English riding tack, attire and gifts.  Juni admits she suddenly had access to the cutest boots the minute they went on sale.  Although, Juni's interest turn to pursued her music abilities joining a local band playing rhythm guitar, singing leads and backups. Soon, she found herself working clubs in Los Angeles with a Country dance band. 

In 1991, Juni return to working horses accepting a one year position with a Tennessee Hunt Club working as a Foxhunt Professional. "Point to point racing, steeplechasing, and horse trials took the place of cowhorses, while she honed her songwriting skills among Nashville’s finest," states Juni. 

Juni would also meet Rusty Bain, a native of Missouri who graduated from the University of Missouri in Animal Science. Rusty trained thoroughbred horses for Flat Racing before beginning a career as an Equine Specialist with Purina.  The couple married where today, they make their home in Franklin, Tennessee.   

Juni would decide to retire from working horses a few years after an injury to her neck cracking the vertebrae. Returning to music, Juni's heavy schedule leaves Rusty to care for the horse while she's away and he often has dinner waiting for her the moment she returns.

By 1999, Juni release her first western album, Tumbleweed Letters.”  The sound track of eleven songs featured an array of stories of characters who made their way in the early west. The album totally written by Juni and shared a duet with Ranger Doug on the final song and album title, "Tumbleweed Letters."  The album had a slow start, until it had reached  Monterey Cowboy Poetry and Music Festival director Gary Brown by late 2003. After he shared Juni’s music with other promoters, Juni became a big hit and would shift to music full time as her profession.  

She followed the release with another CD, "Sideshow Romance," that received great reviews and nominated for Independant Recording Artist Grammy - "Just Plain Folks."  By 2005, Juni received her first award of recognition as  Academy of Western Female Vocalist of the Year and the 2005 Western Music Association's - Crescendo Award.  2006 found Juni being recognized again by the WMA as Female Performer of the Year followed by WMA Song of the Year in 2007 with her hit song, "I Hope She'll Love Me" from her "Cowgirlography" CD release. 

2008, Juni release the CD, "Gone to Colorado" again receiving honors with the WMA Songwriter of the Year Award and the Western Heritage "WRANGLER AWARD" for Outstanding Western Album. The Wrangler awards are presented through the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum  in Oklahoma City, OK.  The awards first began in 1961 recognizing best Western movies, television, literature and music. Inductees to the Hall of Great Westerners and the Hall of Great Western Performers are part of the annual Black Tie banquet.  Juni, just four years prior stood in the office of Scott O'Malley and Associates in Colorado Springs, CO, and looked in awe at the beautiful "Wrangler Awards" displayed there for Scott's great roster of artists: Don Edwards, Waddie Mitchell, Rich O'Brien and Sons of the San Joaquin. Telling Scott and her husband Rusty, Juni said, "I want one of those." She had achieve her goal proudly becoming the first Female music Artist to receive the award. Upon accepting the award, she walked back to her table and placed the award in front of her mother "Buzz."

The Western Music Association would again recognize Juni awarding Female Performer of the Year and Traditional Album of the Year. Juni began working on another Cd, "Let 'er Go, Let 'er Buck, Let 'er Fly" Celebrating 100 years of the Pendleton Round Up.  The Cd would land her the 2011 WMA Female Performer of the Year, Song of the Year, and the Western Music Association Entertainer of the Year awards. This would be another first for Juni becoming the first female to receive the WMA Entertainer of the Year Award.

Though Juni's concert schedule has her on the road much of the year, she still finds time for her fans answering letters, emails or updating her FACEBOOK page.  Juni also makes time for  husband Rusty communicating through long distance phones calls, short text messages or a quick weekend flight to accompany her at one of many concerts. 

Juni's early Influences in music were artist Marty Robbins, Joan Baez and Burl Ives. She enjoys listening to them today along with Bonnie Raitt, Aretha Franklin, Tom Waits, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Corb Lund, Don Williams or "anything that is edgy and cool," states Juni. While traveling on the road, she listens too audio books when not listening to her favorite music.  

Traveling on a moments notice back in the day working as a catch rider, Juni has packing her luggage down to a science.  Whether traveling by air or her RV nicknamed 'the cowgirl camper,'  she keeps things organized, simple and smartly.  Carrying luggage can be awkward, so she uses well made baggage equipped with wheels for easy maneuvering. Even her guitar goes as a carry on when flying, packed in a bright red Calton case, where Juni had fitted with an after-market handle on the headstock and wheels to make walking from one gate to another a breeze.

Juni loves the great outdoors, trail riding on her favorite Little Red Horse, "Flipper" along with fly fishing. She rarely goes on the road without her flyfishing gear. Juni is the former president of her local chapter of Trout Unlimited and has instructed flyfishing with Cast For Recovery. She participated in 'Hook-On-A-Cure'  a St Jude's Children's Hospital celebrity fly fishing event. She also has been featured on several Fishing shows along with competing in the 2003 and 2004 OLN Fly Fishing Masters Competition. When asked, what's the secret of being good at fishing? Juni replied, "Getting into the zen of the water and feed the fish. Fishing is about the joy of fishing."

Juni Fisher Signature Boots
She also appreciates wearing attractive boots. While she loved wearing simple Cordovan color Ropers for the arena during her cowhorse routines, she didn't care for what the market was selling entering back into music in 1999.  "I found nothing that was feminine or pretty…it was the start of the “fat-baby” age of boots. I detested that look of a toddler’s boot with a thick sole. I wanted real boots, smooth soles, tall tops, and had my fill of black and brown. I was looking for color," states Juni.  She wears custom boots made by 'Buffalo Run Boot Company'' in Sheridan, Wyoming and her signature boots made by CABOOTS (Champion Attitude Boot Company) in El Paso, Texas.  "Both companies are generous and wonderful sponsors," states Juni.

Juni shares a sincere compassion for the American west. An unyielding love and respect of  heritage that is deeply expressed in the lyrics of her songs. Each note, a fostering emotion that brings the old west back to life, much like her granddad Fisher's saddle, a treasured  heirloom that Juni recently had restored by Double Branch Saddlery in Columbia, Tennessee. Rejuvenating the old leather, replacing the needed skirt lining with new fleece and saddle strings, cherished memories come to life much like the songs from the woman wearing the signature boots with her signature voice.  

To order CD's or contact Juni Fisher, contact her on line at her web site:

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