Keith Burns and Michelle Poe are one of the fast rising duo’s to become a household name in Country music. They were recently named Music Row Magazine 2010’s “Independent Artist Of The Year”; the award is given to the independent artist with the most spins on Music Row stations over the course of the year.
They have a new single about to be released along with a new video and are excited about what the future holds for them. I recently spent time visiting with them about the new song and some of the stories that go along with their ever blossoming career.
Bev: “Second Chance” is your next single to be released to radio. Tell me about the background of the writing, the story behind the song.
Michelle: Actually I had never written with this writer before, his name is Tom Stipe. It was Keith, Tom and I on this writing appointment. The song, when we finished it, we knew it was good but I wasn’t sure it was “single” worthy. When we got in the studio, we decided to change the tempo, brought it up and then we knew it was good enough. We got a lot of compliments on it, a lot of radio people saying that they hoped it would be a single. We decided to release it and shot the video last week so they got their wish. Hopefully it is a success.
Bev: How much emphasis do you guys put on reaction of radio and fans as well as the industry when you are not really sure what direction you are going to go with a song?
Keith: A lot, and honestly, I put more weight on it when we do it live, when we go out and perform a song live, how well it goes over, how well the people like it. During Country Radio Seminar (CRS) week, a lot of people told us they were excited about this song for radio. They were saying “this is really cool, there’s nothing out there like it”. The song is basically a conversation set to music. It’s Michelle and I having a conversation. It’s like listeners are eaves dropping, listening in on our conversation which is really cool.
Bev: The video for this was shot recently. How much input did you have on the concept for the video and what the story line was going to be?
Michelle: Oh yes, we sat down and had a meeting. They brought the treatment to the table and we sort of tweaked it and worked on our own individual opinions of what it should be. They were really great working with us and with what we wanted the video to do. We can’t wait to see even the rough of it. We’re all excited to see how the story plays out.
Keith: The song sort of dictated two different ways to go with this video because it is a story in itself. The song is a “life time” movie; it could be on the Life Time channel. We basically just followed the story line of the song; we veered off of it a little bit and gave it a nice little twist. Like Michelle said, we’re excited; I think it’s going to be very romantic. It’s shot at a great location so we’re excited.
Michelle: They used a really beautiful model for my part so I am really excited about that.
Bev: What part of making the video was the most fun for you?
Michelle: This time I actually enjoyed watching the actors act. The other video that we did was a performance video, just all about Keith and me on stage. This time the actors are acting out what the story line is. It was really cool. It was like being on the set of a movie for me. That’s the part I enjoyed the most. Plus, they weren’t hard to look at, neither one of them.
Bev: Let’s talk about your recent award for Independent Artist for the Year. Can you share what your reaction was? You have worked so hard and everyone has goals and always reaching for the next step, was this something you could ever anticipate?
Michelle: It was definitely a great kick start to 2011 to have that award under our belt. That means radio is playing our music and people are requesting it. The award is based on spins so it truly is about how many times they have played our song “How Long Is Long Enough”. We’re proud but we’re humbled and were just excited to be recognized.
Bev: What is the “apple” you’re reaching for? Do you have short term or long term goals? How do you base your steps?
Keith: We don’t sit down and go “hey, we want to be here” but obviously we would like to get this next thing going and get it up the charts. We haven’t had a top 40 single on Billboard yet. We’ve had three top 20s on the Music Row chart. I think our next goal is to get to that next level with the mainstream stations and maybe get nominated for an award or something. We need to get our music out there and maybe get to walk the red carpet at the CMAs where we can get a little more exposure and get some more people that know Burns & Poe.
Michelle: Having a really high quality video to show on GAC and CMT will really give us a boost nationally too, and we hope this next video will do that.
Keith: Baby steps for us. If you ask Taylor Swift or Tim McGraw, somebody like that the same question, they would say “it would be nice to sell three million records out of the box” but for us it would be nice to…(Keith pauses, laughs and turns to Michelle)
Michelle: Sell a T-shirt…
Keith: You want to buy one? (laughter)
Bev: What has been the hardest part for you both transitioning into a duo after having solo careers and working within the industry for so long.
Michelle: In my opinion, I think it is better, more pros than cons. You share the spotlight, you share the responsibilities. Keith is fun to be around and musically he writes great songs and he is a business minded motivator. It’s like what one person’s weakness is, the other person makes up for it. We can play off each other on stage, it’s less pressure, I love being in a duo. There are no negatives for me except for Keith’s opinion which… (she says tongue in cheek_
Keith: doesn’t matter…it doesn’t matter now and never will. I wear the pants in the duo but she picks them out. (Laughter)
Bev: Speaking of the humor and the banter between you two, you have been referred to as the “Sonny and Cher of Music Row”. Was that a publicity statement or something someone said and it stuck?
Keith: I think people just started doing that because of our live show. People would say “you’re just like Sonny and Cher but country”…
Michelle: So we added “I’ve Got You Babe” to our cover songs that we use.
Keith: We changed the words up a little bit because it was all lovey dovey and talking about “I got you to hold my hand”, so Michelle and I rewrote that ending.
Bev: What is one of the funniest things that has happened to you guys? What kind of a blooper really stands out?
Keith: Funny to them is daily to us…daily. It’s like we are in one big movie and I keep waiting for somebody to come out from behind the bush with a camera going “You’ve been punked!”.
Bev: Looking at the CD, which I have in my hand, explain the concept behind having two CDs, the duet side and the other. How did you come up with that?
Michelle: On the first one, we just wanted to showcase ourselves as individuals in songs that we loved and felt the closest too and we wanted one that brought us both together and made us a true duet. It was Keith’s idea to have the two separate CDs which I thought was a really good idea at a time when most people are making six song CDs. You are really getting your money’s worth when you buy this record and you’re getting the bonus track. It’s a concept that is not out there and we wanted to be creative and different.
Bev: When you choose songs for duets, do you have a criteria that you look for?
Keith: No, not really. We are very fortunate that when we sit down to write or sit down to listen to a song for Burns & Poe, it can be a duet; it can be a female lead vocal or a male lead vocal. It can be a story song from a third party that we both sing two part harmony all the way through. If we like the song or we are writing it, we just make it ours…
Michelle: We go back and forth and say “you sing this one” and “no, you sing it”…
Keith: …no you sing it.
Bev: Do you ever record both versions; one where Keith sings it first and then Michelle sings lead and then you decide which version you like better?
Michelle: Yes, we have done that too.
Keith: and it is always her version. You have male/female, which version we going with? Female…alright… (laughter)
Bev: Fans want to know where you will be next and how to stay in touch with what you are doing, where can they find you?
Keith: The new album is coming out May 10th, in stores, online, iTunes, etc. Please come out and support our live shows. We are really booking a lot of live shows. Also, check out our website. Facebook has really become our friend too, join us so when we get to your town to do a show, we will already know you.
Bev: As always, it has been really great talking to both of you and I am sure I will run into you again soon. Thank you so much for sharing and making the great music you do.
For more information on Burns and Poe please visit http://www.burnsandpoe.com/ transcribed by Pam Stadel