Barry Ward is a western singer. Even more importantly, Barry Ward is a cowboy, who sings. Anyone can become a cowboy singer. Just get a pair of boots, a big hat and a guitar, and you’re all set. If you’re going to sing cowboy songs, it sure does help to know about what you sing. It’s called “credibility.”
Barry grew up on the western plains of Kansas, near the small town of Copeland, about 40 miles west of the famous cowtown, Dodge City. His great-grandparents settled the place in the late 1880s, shortly after the buffalo had been replaced by cattle. Barry, or “Bear” as he has come to be known by his friends, worked alongside his father and grandfather, working cattle and also doing farm work. To keep food on the table, many ranchers had to diversify and start raising crops. These rugged men of the land became equally at home in a saddle or on the seat of a tractor.
Some cowboys would shy away from letting people know they were also farmers. Perhaps the life of a farmer doesn’t seem as romantic as that of a cowboy. Bear doesn’t have a problem with it. In fact, he embraces it. He writes most of his own songs and those songs deal, not only with his experiences as a cowboy, but with his experiences as a farmer, such as driving a combine during the wheat harvest. Add to that a strong faith and a love for his country and you’ve got a guy who’s overflowing with credibility.
So how does a guy from rural western Kansas become a successful western singer? Being a good singer and songwriter helps. But years of drought, the high cost of fuel and fertilizer, and government bureaucracy pushed things along. With sadness in their hearts and tears in their eyes, Barry Ward and his wife, Victoria, finally had to let go of the old homestead. However, you can’t keep a good cowboy down for long. Bear grabbed his guitar and began songwriting and singing. First it was at Farm Bureau meetings and county fairs, but by 2003, he had performed at the Cultural Olympiad in conjunction with the 2002 Olympics and then Carnegie Hall.
In 2010, Barry became the first cowboy singer to ever perform in Cameroon, Africa. It was an experience he’ll never forget and he was so thankful when he got back on American soil. With a humble attitude and an “aw shucks” smile, Barry never set out to win any awards. Most likely, he never even thought about them. Those accolades came anyway; 2014 Kansas Cowboy Hall of Fame Inductee, Cowboy Artist/Entertainer. From the prestigious Rural Roots Music Commission, he has won three awards! Two of them for Western CD of the Year (2014 and 2015) and overall CD of the Year 2016. Also Male Vocalist of the Year, Academy of Western Artists (2014) and Male Performer of the Year, Western Music Association (2013). And in 2012, Song of the Year by the Academy of Western Artists and he was the 2008 Male Vocalist of the Year, Western Music Division of the Country Gospel Music Association
These days, when they’re not on the road, Barry and Victoria spend their time on a ranch near Eureka, KS. With a mug of “Barry’s Blend Pinon Coffee,” Bear and Vic settle into their porch swing and gaze out over the Flint Hills in the distance. It’s a peaceful moment the couple cherishes even more, knowing that soon they will be back in the truck, heading for another show somewhere in America.