Toronto’s own country sweethearts Steven Lee Olsen and Shannon Ella started their love story in the city before heading to Nashville. Olsen is a Grammy-nominated songwriter and country artist, and Ella hosts a radio show on Bell Media’s Pure Country station. Here’s how country music brought them together.
How they met
Shannon: We met at the Canadian Country Music Association Awards in Hamilton. I was interviewing artists on Radio Row [the press area] and had just done 30 interviews. Steven’s representative came up and asked if I had time to squeeze him in. I agreed, but didn’t know anything about Steven, so I had to research some quick facts before the interview. We started the interview, and the entire time we were both staring at each other, not looking at the camera once and clearly smitten. The cool thing about it is that one day we will be able to show our kids the moment Mom and Dad met.
The first date
Shannon: Our first official date was sometime in September. We went to Urban House in Leslieville for lunch and then just walked around for hours. We ended up sitting on a rock together by Hideaway Park and talked about everything and anything. All of our dates at the beginning were us strolling around Toronto, thrift shopping, exploring different coffee shops, going to parks. That’s where our love story started.
Steven: The element of surprise was definitely my friend while doing long distance. Sometimes I got creative and even had food delivered to her from wherever I was in the world. And sometimes I would actually time it perfectly and make a surprise 14-hour drive from Nashville and show up unannounced at her door right after the delivery.
Steven: We were going to a Dan + Shay show in Nashville, and I thought about asking her onstage, but I knew that wasn’t her style. So, the next morning, Shannon was just finishing brushing her teeth, and I hugged her and just started telling her how much I loved her, and she turned around, and I had the ring in my hand and was on one knee. We just cried and hugged for hours and then called all our family and friends. Oh yeah, and she said, yes!
Shannon: After getting engaged on March 8, 2020, we decided to get married in Hawaii in April. Of course, due to COVID-19 we had to cancel our plans. Neither of us wanted a big wedding, so once May rolled around we couldn’t wait any longer. On May 7 in Nashville, we had an officiant come to our home, and we got married in our backyard. We took videos and put together a little something for our families since they weren’t able to be there, but it was absolutely perfect. Once it’s safe, we will plan another trip to Hawaii and to renew our vows.
Steven: We just welcomed our first child on Dec. 11, 2020. His name is Lincoln Paul Olsen.
Balancing careers and marriage
Shannon: We have careers and passions that we set time aside in our days for, but especially now since we had our son, we are way more precious with our free time. We always try to have our mornings together no matter what, waking up, drinking our coffee and catching up, and we always make time for date nights.
Shannon: We currently live in Nashville, but once the borders open up, we plan to split our time between Nashville and Toronto!
Life after retirement
Shannon: We would love to have a home base, a cottage or farm in Canada and then a beach house somewhere and take two big trips each year. I definitely want to have a farm with some horses to ride around on, and Steven will most likely always be writing songs.