I have to be honest here; it wasn't Brad and Shelly's album that prompted me to interview them. In fact, I had only heard one of their songs before I requested the interview. I mean, it was a great song, and I loved the "hook," but the reason I wanted to interview them was because they intrigued me. There are so few brother/sister duos in country music. In fact, there really aren't many brother/sister duos in any genre of music.
Well, that was my motivation until I listened to their whole album; then I was hooked. They are really good. I mean really, really good. Together and as individual singers. And after hearing them sing, I was more intrigued than ever because then I wanted to know how they got to be so good and why hadn't we heard of them before now and that is just two of the questions I was eager to ask them when we sat down together in Nashville.
Being a brother and sister duo does make selecting the songs more challenging. After all, nearly every great duo in history is memorable because they sang a convincing love song to each other. Brad and Shelly have creatively eliminated that problem by 1) writing their own songs -- they wrote or co-wrote seven of the ten songs on this album and 2) singing most of their songs from a third person's viewpoint and 3) singing great "story songs" like their current hit, "Don't Make Me (Have To Come In There)," a readily identifiable, universal threat issued by every parent at some point in every child's life.
However, being a country music duo, they do know every song that Conway and Loretta or George and Tammy ever sang and they can sing them all at the drop of a hat or to comply with a shouted request from an audience member. The knack for doing this has gotten them dubbed the "human jukeboxes".
first single released from the album was "Legally", a
beautiful ballad written by the incredible Freddie Hart who is probably
best known for his hit, "Easy Loving." When you hear
"Legally," there is an immediate flash back to the best Tammy
and George song you ever heard. No wait ... maybe the best
Brad and Shelly's father, Emmitt Brinkley, was a professional fiddle player who played with several artists during his career, including Little Jimmie Dickens and Mark Chesnutt. Brad is the oldest child and Shelly is the middle child of three siblings.
Shelly says, "We grew up singing together. Our dad played in the house band at Gilley's during the Urban Cowboy craze and" she says, jokingly, "I'm not sure if he put us up on stage the first time out of meanness or kindness." She laughs, then continues, "I do remember that my knees were knockin' so loud I was sure that folks could hear them. But it was a great experience and because of him, we've had a lot of opportunities."
Brad interjects, "Our grandfather also encouraged us to sing at church and festivals so we have been singing all of our lives."
I asked where they have been until now, Brad replied, "Well,
actually, after we got out of high school, we started our own band and
spent a lot of years playing around our home area. After all,
moved to the
he continued, "We did two showcases and Jerry came to both of them.
We ended up doing a project in his studio and then the label deal just
happened next. But to get back to your question, we didn't come to
Brad says, "The one thing we have always stuck to our guns about is being a traditional duet. We don't want to change our style of singing and we won't. There were some labels that had heard us at the showcases that loved us but they wanted us to change our sound to make it a little more 'pop' and we just couldn't do it.”
“In fact” he adds with a smile, “we are so traditional that I'm sure we couldn't go pop with a mouth full of firecrackers!"
Well, all this journalist has to say to that is, "Thank goodness."
Brad and Shelly are perfect just the way they are, they don't need to change a thing. Vocal synchronization is at the very roots of all great music and their singing illustrates that the human voice is truly the most diverse and exceptional musical instrument there is.
When you put two equally superb voices together so the blend creates flawless harmony, the result isn't just musical perfection; it is also unadulterated entertainment -- a goal effortlessly achieved by the multifaceted and very personable Brad and Shelly.
Feature article by Cheryl Harvey Hill