Since their start in 2008, the up and coming band, The Civil Wars, has reached a level of stardom that most nominees in the Vocal Duo of the Year category at this year’s Country Music Awards have worked 10 years in the country music scene to accomplish.
Being strongly endorsed by the soul queen Adele and America’s sweetheart Taylor Swift, the Civil Wars are slowly becoming more and more recognized on the music market.
What began as a “blind date” of sorts for up-and-coming song writers in Nashville, Tenn., quickly became a folk duo made in Heaven.
Santa Cruz, Calif. native Joy Williams and John Paul White from Florence, Ala. were both aspiring soloists but neither was strong enough to hold onto a record label. Williams turned to writing songs for other artists such as David Archuleta and tunes for companies such as Oscar Meyer before embarking on a duo career.
The profits from these side jobs would later kick-start the formation of the Civil Wars.
The band, under Williams’ self-created label Sensibility Music, launched into touring around White’s home state of Alabama in bars and other small venues. A performance at the popular Eddie’s Attic in Decatur launched the band to the edges of stardom with live recordings of their original songs as well as a few covers including the Jackson Five’s “I Want You Back”. The album has been downloaded 90,000 times from their website and is still available for free download.
After the success of Live at Eddie’s Attic in 2009, the band released the single “Poison and Wine” on iTunes later that year. Since then, the song has been featured on Grey’s Anatomy and Pretty Little Liars. Taylor Swift tweeted about the song saying it was her favorite duet, claiming it as “exquisite.” “Poison and Wine” has also made VH1’s top video countdown at numbers 12 and 14, featuring the Civil Wars as a “You Oughta Know” artist.
Recorded as completely acoustic, Barton Hollow, the band’s first official album, was released in February.
The title track “Barton Hollow” was featured as the Single of the Week on iTunes and sold 200,000 copies and was also digitally downloaded over 250,000 times. The album features folk, country, and Americana roots in 12 songs that are both haunting and addictive.
Drawing influences from Johnny Cash, June Carter, Patsy Cline, the Carpenters, and Elliot Smith, the band follows more of the classic country route with songs that tell stories to acoustic melodies. “Twenty Years” tells the story of a personal experience in Williams’s family that features catchy guitar riffs and a calm, lulling chorus. “To Whom It May Concern”, which was featured on NBC’s Parenthood, is a slow yet mellow song about someone longing for their soul mate. “Barton Hollow” is a foot-stomping song influenced by White’s childhood and hometown.
Since their start at Eddie’s Attic in 2009, the Civil Wars have been featured on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno twice, performed on David Letterman, toured alongside Adele as her opening act of a United Kingdom tour, and a nod at the 2011 County Music Awards.
Their harmonies have been compared to Allison Krauss and Robert Plant; however, their music is all their own. With voices that belong together and seem to be from one soul, the Civil Wars lullaby-like sound is more mature than some artists that have been on the scene for years.
Selling out venues all over North America, making covers of songs that sound better than the originals, and becoming the favorite of stars in a multitude of genres, the Civil Wars are a band avid folk, country, and Americana fans should keep an eye out for.