Bluegrass music is a unique art form that is as much about feel and instinct as it is technique. Blending proficiency and passion into a musically intoxicating package, The Roys make their debut with LONESOME WHISTLE (Rural Rhythm Records), a spirited set that showcases the siblings’ stellar vocals, taut musicianship and enviable songwriting skills.
I had an opportunity to visit with Elaine (1/2 of The Roys duo) and visit with her about the new project as well as some of the other exciting things happening for them.
Bev: Congratulations on winning the Inspirational Country Music(ICM) "Duo of the Year" for the second year in a row, such an honor. In your own words, describe how the genre of "International Christian Music", "Country" or "Bluegrass" makes a difference on your audience or how you choose songs.
Elaine: We always try to cut good material. Something that touches us or speaks to us. Usually by doing it that way, from the heart, it comes across to the audience that we are truly being genuine. We never think of what genre is this going to fit better. We let the song speak for itself. We always believe that if we sing from the heart and sing about what we hold true the audience will get it. It hasn't let us down yet.
Bev: Your current single, is “Coal Minin' Man" and released a week ago, for those who have heard it what has been the overall reaction?
Elaine: The reaction has been great. Everyone is commenting on how great our harmonies are and what a great message the song has. We wanted to pay tribute to those hard working folks. The label felt this was the first single off the album and it's been doing really really good for us.
Bev: What are your personal feelings towards the lyrics?
Elaine: I think the lyrics tell the story of the life of a coal miner in a positive light. All too often we hear the downside of the industry. We wanted to pay respect to their life's calling.
Bev: Your bio states that Bluegrass music is a unique art form that is as much about feel and instinct as it is technique. Where does the "feel and instinct" come from each of you?
Elaine: We grew up on Bluegrass and Traditional County Music and that is where our hearts are. We have been singing this type of music our whole lives. This feels like coming home for us. We are just writing and singing the music that we love and I think it really comes through on this album.
Bev: The "Coal Minin' Man" video was shot in Hazard, KY, how did the location get chosen and how much input did you have in the video?
Elaine: One of our friends on Facebook mentioned how she loved our song and that she had family members in the coal mining industry. Our management contacted her and then contacted the Teco Company in Hazard, KY and they said yes!! There was no script for the video. Once we got on location, Paul Jackson, the manager, brought us on the site to scope out the locations. The video director, Marcel, saw the locations he loved, we went from there. We wanted the miners to be the real focus of the video and I think we did that.
Bev: What was the best part of shooting this video?
Elaine: Meeting all the miners and seeing what they do everyday for all of us. We take for granted what they do, but seeing it up close really put a different light on it. They are very hard working men and women and we could feel how they loved what they did. It's their calling just like ours is music!
Bev: What was the worst part of shooting this video?
Elaine: There really wasn't anything that was bad about shooting the video. It did rain just a little bit and we were worried about our instruments getting wet; but other than that it was a perfect day!
Bev: You wrote the title track to LONESOME WHISTLE in two short hours while on the road in Maine one night. "The story is about a couple whose lives revolve around a train. The train carries him off to war, she sits and waits for the train to bring him back home - and in the end, the train does bring him home on his last ride." What was the inspiration behind the song?
Elaine: We had a title that we had written down a few months before. We were talking about the album and I told Lee that we needed to write something up-tempo and that is how it started. Though we didn't use the original title that we had, we just kept going back to a couple and their unending love. The train came about because when we lived in Coal Branch, New Brunswick, Canada and there was a train that ran right through the little town we grew up in. We head that lonesome whistle everyday, twice a day!!
Bev: This project is a culmination of a dream that began for each of you during childhood; when you were young, how did you envision the dream?
Elaine: Our dreams were very different than how our journey has unfolded. When you start out on your way to live out your dreams you think, this will happen if I do this, but sometimes that just doesn't happen. You can't plan for all the twists and turns that you run into on your journey. Sometimes it's been really hard to accept that this or that hasn't happened in such a way. What I know today is that I have no control over my destiny. God has a plan for our lives and we are going where he leads. I wouldn't change a thing because it has made me the person I am today. We appreciate everything that comes our way because we've worked hard and I don't think we would have been so appreciative when we first started out. It just comes with growing up!!
Bev: What is the craziest thing that has happened that you never could have envisioned?
Elaine: I think everything that has come our way, we could not have envisioned. Like meeting President George W. Bush, winning two ICM Vocal Duo awards, going to Bogotá, Columbia with Compassion International and meeting our two sponsored children. This list goes on and on. It's all been incredible!!
Bev: What dreams do you still have that you are reaching for?
Elaine: Singing on the Grand Ole Opry!!! That has been a life long dream of ours. There are so many others but that one is on the top of the list for me!!
Bev: I know you play guitar and Lee plays drums, bass and mandolin. What other instruments do you play?
Elaine: I only play the guitar. Lee got all the talent in the family lol!!
Bev: Which instrument is your favorite?
Elaine: I love all instruments when they are played well. I love the fiddle because our Grandma LeBlanc played it for us. I also love the dobro.
Bev: What would you like to learn to play and who would you like to teach you?
Elaine: I would love to learn to play the fiddle. I wish my Grandma LeBlanc could teach me because she sure played it so good!
Bev: You joined the ever growing "The Boot Campaign” this year supporting our military when they come home, and you also were involved in the Compassion International mission trip to Bogotá, Columbia, South America as well as being spokesmen for Compassion International and are sponsoring 2 children, what criteria do you have when asked to be a part of charity work?
Elaine: We love to give back. We feel so blessed to be able to be in the music industry and we really feel strongly about helping out where we can. If we believe in the cause or charity and they ask us to help, we love to do our little part. If what we do helps one person then it was all worth it!!
Bev: Is there any charity that is particularly close to your heart and why?
Elaine: We love St. Jude because of all the children that they help. Compassion International is very dear to our hearts too. Going to Bogotá, Columbia and seeing the extreme poverty that people live in really opened our eyes. Also learning that when you sponsor a child through Compassion that the $38.00 a month is not the most important thing. Writing letters to your child is the most important thing. Visiting homes and seeing where the children had their sponsors letters hanging on the wall like a piece of art was life changing. They live for those letters. Who knew that writing a letter to your sponsored child could change his or her life? Amazing!!
Bev: With the release of the current project, what feelings are each of you experiencing?
Elaine: Excitement, excitement, excitement. This is our first release on a label other than our own and it feels good. To be a part of such a great team and to know how hard they are working to make this happen is incredible. I can't wait for everyone to hear it.
Bev: As social media has taken over and video outlets such as YouTube are prevalent sources of interaction with fans, do you have a favorite or do you have any you particularly do not want to participate in?
Elaine: I really like Facebook. To communicate with your fans and have them react to your post immediately is great. I love reading all their comments to us!! We have the best fans!!
Bev: I have enjoyed the visit with you and appreciate you sharing your experiences and everything you have going on with The Roys; I always love to see you two!
Elaine: Thank you, you are always so wonderful to us and we appreciate all you do!
For more information on The Roys visit www.theroysonline.com where you can keep up with what they are doing and visit their Digital Rodeo, Facebook, Twitter, Myspace etc.