West is the new up and coming country band from South Africa. Be sure to listen to their rendition of true blue country artists.
The American Country Legend Charlie Pride always said, “It isn’t reasonable to expect that everyone in the world is a Country fan,” and then he smiled and continued “Not yet anyway.” Fans of Country Music and music fans alike can certainly take note of ‘West’, the new Country Band. This Hit group consists of Ernie Bates (of the famous vocal band Overtone), Mac Young and Hugo Hewitt. These three man are reviving the Country Music scene in South Africa with their amazing harmonies of old hits that will be loved, not only by hardend country fans, but also by a whole new generation. And so it is just fitting that that Charlie Pride’s ‘I’m So Afraid Of Losing You Again’ is one of the Hits they covered on their first album. But that would only be the first on many still to come. As you read this ‘West’ has already released 4 albums and is currently busy recording their fifth. All this in just over 2 yers that the group has been together. Except for bringing their own flavour to some of the classic hits, they also write their own material, of which 2 songs have hit nr 1 on the country charts in South Africa.
Ernie Bates is of course no stranger. He is an internationally acclaimed music producer, arranger, musician, singer and TV star, and has been in the music industry for the past two decades and has achieved great success worldwide. Ernie was part of the South African acapella group Overtone, which became a household name in 2009 after appearing in the Warner Brothers film Invictus, starring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon and directed by Clint Eastwood. Ernie has adapted and produced five songs for the film and has collaborated with world-renowned film music producers Michael Stevens and Kyle Eastwood. Overtone sang the entire soundtrack for the film. The group was also with the Eastwood family in the E! Entertainment reality show Mrs. Eastwood and Company in 2012.
Back in South Africa, it is still a passion of Ernie to write, compose, remix and produce new music. This is also why ‘West’ exists. “In 2020 just before the pandemic struck, I decided to
release some more video material of myself and my songs. I’m fortunate enough to have my own studio and so I’m able to produce my own music and also producing for other
artists.” Ernie said and added. “At this point I was also in the proces of producing Mac Young’s new album. According to me he is the best Country vocalist in South Africa.”
Mac Young’s debut album ‘Pretty Soon’ was released in August 2014, and the music industry immediately took note of his talent. How could they not? He started singing at the age of three and is a master of the guitar. “I was born to be on stage,” says Mac. “I want to inspire people with music. My passion is country music and although I always try to see the light side of life, I prefer music with a deeper meaning that touches people’s hearts.” Ernie approached Mac to sing with him on the music video of the Waylon Jennings hit, A couple more years. However, Ernie felt that a third voice was needed, and approached Hugo Hewitt. The two were members of the same gospel band. As it usually is when it comes to musicians, Hugo comes from a very musical family. “My father and his brother started making music together at school, and I grew up under their sound desk at performances,” says Hugo. “As a family, we often sang together at family gatherings. I was four years old when my grandmother taught me how to harmonize, and in grade seven I started teaching myself to play guitar”. At school Hugo was part of the choir and music groups and studied sound engineering after school. Hugo then joined Lefra Productions as a sound engineer where his love for theatre started. Ernie discribes Hugo a ‘Harmonizing Monster’. Hugo had accepted Ernie’s invitation to join in and the the third voice on the music video, that originally was decided to only be a once off collaboration. But little did they know that this would be a start to a whole new chapter in their professional careers. “I Still remember the day when Hugo came in to the studio to add his voice to the track. It was a proper goosebumps moment, and I very seldomly experience those…” Ernie mentioned. The video went viral and soon the demand came for more. That is the moment they decided so create the group ‘West’. “We are all three artists in our own right,” Hugo said. “Yet it is our love of Country music that brought us together. Ernie is more into the Classics like Jim Reeves and Charlie Pride, And Mac is more into Modern Country. I prefer the country of the 80’s and 90’s. But it was clear from the get-go that we would be a Country Band.”
They decided on the name ‘West’ to honour the whole American Country-Western movement. According to Ernie, nobody makes Country music like the Americans. With the revival of Country music we have been experiencing in South Africa over the last four years, ‘West’ very spontaneously came to life after a huge demand of the public.” said Mac. “ we decided to give it a go as there was a very obvious gap in the market. Our goal is to release new, quality Country Music, for as long as possible.” And so with their first album they chose more well known songs, not only to introduce themselves to the public, but also to introduce the classics to a whole new generation. But as they release new albums they are also writing new music and also covering more modern Country, but adding their own flavour. Lets go ‘West’