The southern, Ontario-born Nicole Rayy has been writing her own songs since she was a teenager, and her talent launched her into the Canadian Country music scene in 2012 with the release of her debut EP Only Everything. But it was her second album, Dig, that really solidified her as a force to be reckoned with within the Canadian country scene.
Soon after, she found herself playing festivals like the Calgary Stampede, Trackside, Howl at the Moon, and opening up for country music powerhouses like Aaron Pritchett and Brett Kissel.
She’s even had the experience of performing at the World Music Festival in Shanghai, China, for four years in a row (2015-2018), proving to be a hit among Shanghai’s enthusiastic crowds. In 2017, she was honoured with a nomination by the CMA Ontario for Rising Star of the Year and her single “Fireproof” took her fans by storm and garnered over 160k streams on Spotify.
Her new EP All Woman, is a stunning collection of songs that traverse borders and (at times) genres. Produced by the famed Brian Howes (Mother Mother, Daughtry) – songs like “Unfinished” showcase her strength as a solo artist and her open take on country music.
The title track “All Woman”, an empowered feminist anthem, has led Rayy to a collaboration video that features 10 rising female artists in Canadian Country. It has also inspired Rayy to create an online platform, All Woman Music, to give more opportunity for females in music to perform.
She has taken her passion for supporting female artists even further by creating a brand new all-female festival called HarmoniaFest. Rayy is currently nominated for Female Artist of the Year at this year's Country Music of Ontario awards, and just released a brand new single (August 21st) written by Meghan Patrick called “Broken Boys".
Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day; I could seriously eat breakfast food for every meal. So, it is particularly hard to choose just one breakfast place in Alliston. One of my favourites is Nan’s Diner. When you want a classic bacon and eggs breakfast, Nan’s is the place. The food is delicious and I love the vintage diner vibe. Also, they serve up an excellent cup of coffee, which is very important in a great breakfast place.
My other favourite is Hot Stacks Family Restaurant. It is actually a few minutes down the road in Cookstown, Ontario but always worth the Sunday morning drive. They have the most amazing pancakes in every flavour combination you could ever dream of. My go-to is usually the chocolate chip banana pancakes.
I am actually not a huge lunch person. Usually, I’m on the go in the middle of the day so instead of a full meal, I like an afternoon snack that’s quick. I love something healthy that will give me energy and keep me motivated in the middle of the day.
The Modern Market is the perfect place to grab a midday health smoothie or a gluten-free treat. My favourite is The Bullet, full of health ingredients and espresso, it’s the perfect smoothie to help me get though my workday.
The Coop is the perfect place for dinner, not only the food but the atmosphere, from the specialty antiques to the car desk, to the local live music. It is owned by one bad-ass babe, Sandra Lambie. Sandra is so creative, passionate and dedicated to her community and it definitely shows in her restaurant.
The food is always amazing. When I am craving a delicious juicy burger, The Coop is the place to go, but one of my absolute favourites when I want something fresh and comforting is their California wrap and fries.
Not only does Sandra own The Coop but she recently opened up a second restaurant in Alliston called William’s. William’s is the perfect place to grab a cocktail. It is absolutely gorgeous inside and is the perfect spot to sit at the bar and order a specialty drink. Also, while you are there for a drink, don’t forget to order yourself their charcuterie board. It is huge and a serious flavour explosion.
Due to COVID-19, so many restaurants have had to make adjustments, including make-shift patios. William's actually just opened a little patio in Queen’s Alley right beside their building and it is so cute. It reminds me of the Secret Bar from Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life.