The Shires

The Shires

As 2015 draws to a close, The Shires must surely be celebrating a stellar year. They became the first UK country act ever to reach the Top 10 with their debut LP and graced the stage at Nashville's most prestigious venue...

Anita Awbi
  • By Anita Awbi
  • 18 Dec 2015
  • min read
As 2015 draws to a close, country duo The Shires must surely be celebrating a stellar year.

In a ground-breaking chart first, they became the only British country band to ever reach the Top 10 back in March with their debut album Brave.

They’ve since gone on to support Tom Jones on tour, debut at Isle Of Wight and Glastonbury festivals, grace multiple BBC Radio 2 playlists and play country music’s most iconic stage - The Grand Ole Opry in Nashville.

Now signed to Decca Nashville and with a full UK tour under their belts, Ben Earle and Crissie Rhodes have gone from 2014 buzz band to stage a spectacular break-through into the mainstream.

We spent time with the pair to learn how they're bringing UK country music to the masses...

We first started writing music because…
Ben:
I have been writing since I was about 13. My Mum would play all the great seventies songwriters like James Taylor, Carole King and Joni Mitchell. It was so natural for me becoming a writer. I would just sit there and improvise, when I should have been practising the piano. I just started singing along and songs suddenly flowed out.

We have been making music since...
Together since May 2013 but before then Crissie studied music at GCSE level, college and at the Academy of Contemporary Music in Guildford. Ben studied music and sung as a chorister as a child and has been writing songs all of his life.

Our music is…
Country-pop.

You'll like our music if you listen to…
Lady Antebellum, Ronan Keating, The Corrs, Carrie Underwood, Early albums of Taylor swift, The Civil Wars, Little Big Town.

Our favourite venue is…
The Union Chapel in London. It’s a church, which turns into a live venue at night time. The acoustics in there are beautiful and it’s a great place to listen to acoustic, harmony-driven artists.

Music is important because…
It uplifts you, it inspires you, it heals you, it shows you that you’re not the only person going through a difficult time, it creates a soundtrack of your life which you could listen to in years to come and it will make you remember certain points in your life.

Something that Crissie has witnessed first hand is the dramatic differences in elderly people with memory loss conditions such as dementia. It unlocks memories that they didn’t know they had, all because that melody and lyric transported them to a certain time in their life. Music has such a powerful emotional response and should not be taken for granted.

Our biggest inspiration is…
We are inspired by Lady Antebellum and the harmonies of The Civil Wars. Growing up, Crissie was inspired by vocalists such as Faith Hill, Lee Ann Rimes, Celine Dion, Martina McBride, Carrie Underwood and Alison Krauss.

Our dream collaboration would be…
With Lady Antebellum or maybe Ed Sheeran?

To try us out, listen to our song…
Brave. So many of our fans have reached out to us saying that this song has helped them through some really tough times. One particular lady said it kept her going during her recovery after heart surgery.

If we weren’t making music we’d be…
Crissie:
singing at weddings, private parties and in nursing homes, as I was before. But if I couldn’t have anything to do with music, I would most likely have something to do with nutrition and/or the fitness industry.

Ben: I would have loved to be a footballer, but I probably wasn't good enough. I played cricket to a high level in my teens but stopped when I realised writing songs was cooler! I think I could have been a good lawyer as I love debating.

In 10 years’ time we want to be…
Inspiring the next generation of musicians. Still performing our own songs to our fans, hopefully all over the world.

http://www.theshiresmusic.com