"We believe that life always opens the door and it is your choice to go through it or not,” their story begins Sammy Rose and Jack Hollenberg.
Sammy (Sandra) was born on Sunday, April 15th, 1951 in a pickup truck in the middle of a storm near Anaheim, Saskatchewan. Her parents were rushing to the hospital because Sammy (Sandra) decided to come into the world 6 weeks early. There was no time left, and her dad delivered a baby, tied the cord, and carried her and mother to the nearest farm where an Austrian couple lived. Interestingly, the couple was supposed to be in church at the time, but they missed it. "My mom and I spent 2 weeks at the Freling house where I was fed chamomile tea from an eye dropper until my mother finally got milk”, says Sammy.
In Holland, 1945, Jack was born. He emigrated to Canada in 1964 as an electrician and a great musician. Jack visited and worked in almost every province in Canada, and even had a log home construction company for 15 years.
Sammy and Jack met each other in 1985 in Edmonton. At the time, Sammy had a recording contract with Royalty Records and was busy recording her 3rd single. "I was looking for a steel guitarist, and someone introduced me to Jack, a Dutch guy playing steel and guitar for another band. He said "I think you will like him” the rest is history. This is how our story began. We didn't look for each other, it just happened", says Sammy and Jack, who got married in Holland after 6 years from that day.
When they met, they formed the band "Silk and Steel” and for several years played music all over Western and Central Canada, as well as for six months in Nashville, where Sammy studied the secrets of the song writing and music industry. After the death of Jacks mother in The Netherlands Jacks Father needed assistance, but Instead of a short 6-week visit, they spent 8.5 years there. Why? Because they said yes to the new opportunity.
"When we were there, we met a promoter who knew Sammy because he got some of her records from Royalty Records in Edmonton. He invited us to play in shows, and large festivals. We eventually played all over Germany, Denmark, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, France, and Poland.” This also opened the door to the recording studios of Europe where Sammy became well known for her own compositions (she even was nominated for female vocal in the Netherlands), and her home-made Canadian style apple pies. Her marketing ploy was to arrive at the radio station with a pie in one hand and a new CD in the other. "It worked every time”, Sammy laughed.
While living in Europe, Sammy also got the opportunity to deepen her culinary knowledge while Jack worked as an electrician. Sammy enjoyed all the culinary opportunities that Europe had to offer. It deepened her knowledge of cooking by working in various restaurants and providing catering services for various private parties. "My love of cooking came from my family. I grew up with 6 other brothers and sisters on a hardworking farm. My mom did not like cooking, and I did not like farm work, so with the influence of my Aunt Elaine, grandparents and my mom, when I was 10, I became a family chef, cooking for 10 people every day. I am thankful for this opportunity that created the background for my future success”, says Sammy.
In 1997 Jack and Sammy decided to return to Canada where they needed to re-establish themselves. They started to work at Oil Rigs, Jack as an electrician and Sammy cooked for the workers. "After some time, I was fired because I cooked too good. Employers told me that customers only want me, and they cannot find 20 of me, so they have to say good buy. It was a complement in the strangest fashion funny experience", laughs Sammy, who thinks that a particularly important ingredient for tasty food is a smile and good mood, that she always practices. king, and I did not like farm work, so with the influence of my Aunt Elaine, grandparents and my mom, when I was 10, I became a family chef, cooking for 10 people every day. I am thankful for this opportunity that created the background for my future success”, says Sammy.
After returning, Sammy completed a 3-year food course in one year and opened a catering business that also included music services. "It was crazy work. I remember we were hosting a curling rink party for 200 people. First, we needed to buy all the ingredients. Then, go and prepare everything for the evening and do actual catering. After that we played music until 12 - 1 o'clock in the morning. Then we needed to clean the kitchen, pack up our equipment and drive home at 4 a.m. In one evening, we changed hats from cook to cowboys. People could not believe that the chef who just fed them is a singer. It was so gratifying. We succeeded; it was never a failure. We always had an amazing teamwork", says Jack and Sammy, who were challenged on the Harley Davidson 100 year anniversary event, where they needed to perform and cook for 400 hungry bikers. "We survived that one, and promised each other never do that to ourselves again" laughs Sammy.
They did many big caterings not only in Alberta but were also invited to private parties to many other countries such as Costa Rica, Chile and Colombia. Yes, Colombia, to which they said yes, even if the whole family thought otherwise.
"While in Costa Rica, we met Eduardo, an orphanage missionary in Cali. We gave him our CD. When we got home, we received a text from him that the children were singing our songs on the streets, and that he would be thrilled if we could come to Cali for the celebration of his 20-year missionary. It was a difficult decision because Jack was still working. But we thought...why not?! We got a hold of "Smithbilt Hats" in Calgary, who donated 100 white cowboy hats, that we brought to Colombia for the kids. We went straight to the heart of the dangerous Cartel, but you know what, we are musicians, we need to give something back and our decision was right", says Sammy.
This journey changed their lives. They finally decided to leave Calgary and come to Langenburg. "When we were in Colombia, we experienced when people have nothing but are ready to give you the shirt off their backs. They invited us to their house where the floor was just dirt, nothing more. They would give a small bowl of peanuts, and it was translated to us that it is her all day pay. I ate every nut very carefully. We did not go anywhere without bodyguards. It was only for our protection; the Colombian people were awesome. We realized what we missed the most was our freedom, something we all take for granted in our country - a freedom to choose what to do and where to go. When we were there, it was our first experience, overwhelmed by the experience, lost in our own thoughts, we did not speak when we flew home to Canada. We realized how much we have. Every teenager across Canada should visit Cali. It was a big eye opener. We decided to move from Calgary because we did not need all of that, all the things we have. We went home and wrote a song about it "The Streets of Cali" (you can listen it on youtube). We are still friends with our host and hostess from the mission, Eduardo and his wife Elisa”, says Sammy and Jack.
Sammy and Jack moved to Langenburg in 2008 and were ready for a new chapter in their life. Sammy decided to start a nutrition business "Prairie Rose Wellness” (which she ran for 9 years), and Jack opened an electrical company, "Jack’s Electric Service” (now owned and ran by Mitch Crittall as "Prairie Tech Electrical”). "Don Layh was the first customer," smiles Jack. "It was Don’s fault that I even started an electrical company. He brought to my attention that there was a need for electrical services. Yet another open door", says Jack.
In 2009, when Sammy opened her wellness business, she went to a wellness trade show where she met Cole Smith, an Access TV cameraman. This acquaintance developed into filming with Access TV for years covering, wellness and musical shows, and finally giving birth to a new life project – "Sammy's Cottage Kitchen” - a culinary show that is recorded at her home. The show have been running on Access TV for 3 years. They are filming for the 4th season now. And like Sammy’s life’s work, this adventure led her to another.
This summer, Sammy received a call from Access TV Regina's headquarters, which offered her to be one of 6 people selected in the province of SK to represent the Access channel in a new marketing campaign. "They liked my positivity, and enthusiasm my performances," laughs Sammy. So, you can now see Sammy on a large billboard in Yorkton (Broadway Street) smiling and inviting everyone to turn on this channel.
What could be better, you think ... a lot of interesting stories and adventures ... but wait, that is not the end…
In 2013 the active couple purchased a property in Hawaii, encouraged by their friend Tyrone who’s dad Regan lived there and invited them to come to organize a party with food and music (a luau of sorts Canadian style) in his backyard. So, they fell in love with the place and finally decided to retire or at least spend the winters there, where they are now known for good cooking, their music and Jack’s handmade electric and lap steel guitars.
Jack started making instruments at the age of 14. "I had a band with my cousin, and we needed an electric guitar. We saw rock bands from England and really wanted to have the guitars they had. So, we went to the store to see if we could buy them, but they were way too expensive. So, talking to my dad, he gave me a piece of wood, and I made my first electric guitar when I was just 13 years old. When I came to Canada, I built an electric guitar for myself again”. Jack built about a dozen or more electric guitars and 16 Hawaiian lap steel guitars. "In Hawaii, I have absolute music masters who play my guitars. Bobby Ingao, for example, is one of the master steel players. He bought one guitar and now placed an order for another in turquoise colour. It is very gratifying to go to concerts, where bands are playing and to see that they are playing one of my guitars”, says Jack.
In addition to guitars and culinary performances, Sammy and Jack are currently working on their 8th album "Country Soul” in their own Silk & Steel studios adding new local musicians to the mix. Also, Sammy plans to work on her cookbook this winter, where she will put all hers and some inherited family recipes for everyone to enjoy. She is thinking of one day writing an autobiography about her life.
"I don’t know about the future, but we believe that life always has open doors and its your choice to walk through it or not. So, for us many doors have opened, and different opportunities presented itself and it is up to the individual if they want to accept that opportunity or not. And we Do. We always say to each other we can’t really do this, but then we ask - why not?” smiles Sammy.
"You just need to make the most of life then life becomes full. You need to make it good for other people too. You live once, so you must make the best of your life. It is not the life that gives you, it is what you give for the life!” finish Sammy and Jack.
And as usual we asked about Langenburg, why here?
"People often ask why you live here when you did so many things in your life. The main reason why we are here is the family that is tight, and we enjoy getting together. Also, we wanted a more peaceful place than a large city. We feel safe here, have a space for creation and are surrounded by creative people. We have great artists in Langenburg with the Arts Council and Theatre. Before we moved here, we played up to the theatre. When we saw the reception of the people, we both looked at each other and said, "seems like a darn good place to be”. People are friendly, you can leave your door unlocked, your neighbours help to look after property. It is peaceful, everybody waves, and we like it. People are down to earth most important they are real! The community just accepts their members and helps each other. Its amazing. We will not move from here. It is our home!”.
More about Sammy's Cottage Kitchen: https://fourtownjournal.com/all-tangled-up-in-pots-and-pans-in-sammys-cottage-kitchen/
‘Sammy the Singing Chef’ accompanied by the musical stylings of Jack Hollenberg, is available for corporate or staff parties and house events. Call Sammy at (306) 743-7514 to find out more.