Charlie "Cat" Canfield of Bastrop is proof that faith and desire can eventually come together to make dreams come true. This is what has happened for Canfield, who at age 85 has collected a lifetime of song writing and musical experience, has released the song "Hurricane Sandy." The song has gotten worldwide Internet play, and Canfield hopes it will bring attention to his gospel recording entitled "Faith, Hope and Love."
Canfield was born in Bastrop on Feb. 11, 1928 and began singing as a little boy. "I started about 5 or 6 years old. My parents thought it was cute because I could sing and carry a tune," he said. Canfield's first grade teacher let him perform the Shirley Temple song, "On the Good Ship Lollipop," ("I was in love with Shirley Temple," he said.) to the classes at school and Canfield said he liked the response of his school mates to his performances.
Canfield said as he grew older "I developed stage fright. It was in my throat. It would choke my vocal cords." But one day in church changed that. "At about 11 or 12 years old I went to a little country church. Jesus opened the door and I let him in. That's when my life changed. I became a Christian, born again. I started writing gospel songs," he said. Canfield devoted himself to writing Christian music, and when he could, would sing with groups and in church.
He finished high school in 1945. After graduating high school, Canfield attended the University of Louisiana at Monroe for two years taking courses in voice and radio speaking. In 1949 he graduated from Louisiana Tech with a degree in business administration and a minor in economics.
Before joining the Navy in 1950, Canfield sang with Ed Miller and the Rhythmaires and could be heard over KTRY radio in Bastrop. While stationed on Guam, Canfield formed his own band and continued writing original traditional country and gospel songs. He played at all the nightclubs and NCO clubs on Guam for 18 months, six nights a week. During his navy career, Canfield said he obtained lots of experience. "I won a talent contest in Oakland, Calif., sang in Great Lakes, Ill. And Boston, MA, and most of the night clubs in Key West, Fla."
After his honorable discharge in 1954, Canfield made his first recording. It was on the Jiffy Label located in West Monroe. The two songs "Cry Cry On" and "Irving's Lake" were local hits, because Jiffy did not have national distribution.
In 1955 Canfield was on the Louisiana Hayride in Shreveport along with Elvis Presley, Johnny Horton and Jim Reeves. In 1956, he appeared with Ernest Tubb at Howard Auditorium at Tech.
Canfield appeared locally on several TV shows, including "McCall Comes Calling" on KNOE-TV and "Big 10 Jamboree" on KTVE in El Dorado. He has also appeared on the "March of Dimes Talent Show" in Bastrop, "Twin City Jamboree" at the fairgrounds in West Monroe, "Super Country U.S.A." in Alexandria and the "Dixie Jamboree" in Ruston.
In 1966, Canfield was nominated for the prestigious "Trailblazer" category by Airplay, International, in Nashville. For years Canfield has been writing, singing and recording country and gospel music as a hobby. He decided to get his songs into the mainstream of traditional country and gospel music. Today Canfield is hoping his traditional country songs will open the door to spreading his gospel music all over the world.
In December 2012, Canfield decided to sell his songs on the Internet using digital retail stores. He chose cdbaby.com for distribution worldwide. He released his first song "Hurricane Sandy" and is receiving email from Radio Airplay indicating people in the United States and other countries are becoming his fans. "The people on the eastern seaboard who lost their homes and businesses due to Hurricane Sandy need their government to come to their aid and do so quickly," Canfield said.
Canfield also has another release, "My High Definition Big Screen TV." Canfield said he hopes the attention to these two songs will lead to more opportunities for his gospel music. "This was a secular song ('Hurricane Sandy') that I'm hoping to break open the door. Here I am 85 years old. I'm hoping it touches a lot of lives," he said.