The Sicilian Wood Carver
O R G E P
E T R A L I A
"A miniature carretto"
Master Sculptor George Concetto Petralia with nephew Alfio Puglisi
This sicilian master wood carver
came to Canada in July 1955, on the Greek Ocean Liner, Olympia. He
settled in Oshawa eventually working for Sklar Furniture.
George Petralia was exhibiting his wood carvings in an Ontario tour, during
Canada's Centennial year in 1967, when he came into Port Arthur,
now Thunder Bay, where he met Frank Potocniki, a well known wood carver in
George met country singer, who introduced George to Don Grashey an
internationally recognized record producer in Port Arthur, Ontario
Canada, now Thunder Bay, operating DMG Studios on Cumberland Street.
Don Grashey is recognized in three Halls of Fame, including The Canadian
Country Music Hall of Fame, and Nashville's Country Hall of Fame.
Don Grashey, together with Charlie Chuck William's discovered and produced
Loretta Lynn, although the
movie and the book, "Coal Miners Daughter" does not reflect this. ("My
Rambling Heart", An Autobiography of Don Grashey, Washington DC, 1995).
Don Grashey had produced singer, "Jerry Palmer", "Buddy De Val", "Myrna
Lorrie", "Heather Haig" and eventually "Carroll Baker".
George Petralia - Carroll
Baker - Don Grashey
While living in southern Ontario, George Petralia discovered Carroll
Baker at a country and western jamboree. George tried to convince Carroll
Baker to meet with Don Grashey, who was the president of "Gaiety" and
"Zero Records" to produce a record.
Don Grashey writes...
" George Petralia was living
in Oshawa Ontario, and in May or June of 1970, I received in the mail a tape
from him, on it were songs by a female vocalist I had never heard of before.
At the time she was residing in Oakville, Ontario, but she originally hailed
from Port Medway, Nova Scotia. George wanted to know if I would be
interested in recording her.
I listened to the tape
and her inexperience was immediately apparent. Her diction made me
think of an English school marm. But the quality and range of her voice
were good, and she sang with feeling. There was something about the
sound and personality she projected in one of her songs that intrigued me.
I could correct the overripe diction and the other minor flaws in her delivery.
But was she worth the
effort ? I wasn't sure, so I called in Chuck Williams for a second
...On July 20, I answered a knock on the studio door and found myself confronted
by George Petralia, the singer, Carroll Beauliu, her husband John and a lead
...It turned out that George had brought Carroll to Thunder Bay for a session,
with studio time I promised to him in return for taking me to Hollywood.
He wanted to record two songs, one of which he had written. he'd also
prepared a plaque consisting of a bronzed 45 RPM record with "DMG" engrave
on it. . . . Don Grashey "
Left to Right
Loretta Lynn, Rob Howatson (Freelance Writer), and Mike Harling
OF LORETTA LYNN DAY IN VANCOUVER
Loretta Lynn was discovered by Don Grashey
and Chuck Williams from Thunder Bay, singing at "The Chicken Coop" in British
Columbia. Loretta Lynn was living in Washington, and came over the
border to perform at the "Chicken Coop".
Don Grashey, President of Zero Records, and Chuck Williams secretary of promotion,
went to "The Chicken Coop" in Vanouver and heard her singing.
They asked her to record with them, and she recorded two songs for Zero Records,
"Honky Tonk Girl" and "Whispering Pines".
.... and the rest is well recorded somewhere in Canadian History.
'My Rambling Heart"
Her song ended and Thunder Bay' Community Auditorium exploded with applause,
cheers and whistles. Resplendent in a glittering, floor length gown, Loretta
Lynn graciously acknowledged the capacity crowd's enthusiastic response.
Publication of her biography, and the academy award winning motion picture
loosely based on it, had propelled the "Coal miner's Daughter" to a peak
of international popularity never before scaled by a female country music
The applause died and Loretta again stepped up to the microphone.
In her familiar Kentucky drawl she said :
"I'd like to introduce y'all to an old
friend of mine, Chuck Williams. Come on out here, Chuck"
My long-time associate stepped out of the wings and was greeted warmly by
She turned back to the audience and said:
"This is one of the fellas who discovered
me singing in Vancouver. Is the other fella here? Is Don
Grashey here? Come on up and take a bow, Don."
The "Queen of Country Music", was finally - publicly - disclosing
my contribution to her success - twenty-seven years too late ! Well,
no matter. Long before I discovered her vocalizing in a converted chicken
coop I had learned a hard, but invaluable lesson: In the music business,
gratitude is dispensed almost as reluctantly as managerial fees.
That lesson was to be repeated over and over again during my forty-six years
as a Writer, Producer and Manager.
From the book, "My Rambling Heart" by Don Grashey, co-authored by Joseph
(If you would like to order a copy of the book,
"My Rambling Heart" An auto-biography by Don Grashey, co-written with Joseph
Contact George Petralia at the e-mail address below.
contact George Petralia for commissioned works contact him at
Thunder Bay Snow Sculpture Display on Simpson Street
George Petralia in Ice ?
George Petralia standing
beside a larger than life of a
'Canadian Trapper' with some Husky dogs.
The "Wood Carving Club of Thunder Bay"
decided to organize a snow sculpture display on Simpson Street. Members
and organizers include Brian Nieminen, Les Barrow, and George Petralia.
Word is that Thunder Bay wood carvers decided to pay tribute to the greatest
Sicilian Wood Carver north of the 49th parellel and used George as the model.
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