Love powers country couple’s music success
By Steve Wildsmith | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Even on their days off, Keifer and Shawna Thompson have work to do.
Take, for example, a recent break from near-constant touring to relax at home in Nashville. It was only for a couple of days, but they had to attend a photo shoot. Before they knew it, they said during a recent phone interview, it was time to pack up again and hit the road.
But make no mistake: They’re not complaining. As busy as they are, as punishing as their schedules can be, they’re loving every minute of it. And fans seem to be loving every minute that the duo known as Thompson Square gets in the spotlight.
“We get lots of Tweets about us as a couple,” Shawna Thompson said. “People say things like, ‘They’re so cute! They’re so adorable!’ It’s so weird to hear that, because it seems like a really natural thing for us. I look back at pictures of us on stage, and it looks like I’m grinning like a possum, as my daddy would say.
“But I’m just happy. It’s amazing to get to do what you love to do, with the one you love. We’re just so happy with our lives right now, and I think it really shows.”
They have every reason to be happy. Almost two decades of hard work has paid off in spades over the past two years, and Thompson Square has become something of a country music Cinderella story. The couple met at a Nashville singing competition shortly after both moved to town, Shawna from rural Alabama and Keifer from Oklahoma. Before long they were a couple, each pursuing a solo career, and eventually they decided to pool their talents and start a band together.
It wasn’t until 2009 that a Nashville club date got them a manager and a meeting with Stoney Creek Records, which signed the pair and released their self-titled debut album in February 2011.
Duo of year
The playful “Let’s Fight” was the band’s first single, but it was the second song, “Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not,” that announced Thompson Square as one of country music’s hot new things. Selling more than 1 million copies, it rocketed to No. 1, dragged the album up to No. 3 and paved the way for industry recognition as well.
The single earned Thompson Square a couple of American Country Awards and nominations galore, including the Grammys. Earlier this year, Thompson Square was named the Academy of Country Music’s Vocal Duo of the Year, and the pair are up for a couple of Country Music Association Awards in November: Vocal Duo of the Year and New Artist of the Year.
Although technically, the latter award is a bit misleading, Keifer said.
“No doubt, we’ve worked extremely long and hard to get here,” he said. “We’ve been doing this in Nashville for 17 years. The dues have done been paid, but it does feel like a whirlwind these past two years with everything that’s happened. We never expected all of this. It’s kind of surreal. Being on a smaller label, we didn’t think we would ever be able to win anything, so the fact we have is just a true blessing.
“Being at the CMT Music Awards (earlier this year, when Thompson Square won the Duo Video of the Year Award for “I Got You”) around all of these country music artists and to hear them go, ‘And the winner is’ and then read your name, that’s something every artist dreams about since they were kids. Even after everything else that’s happened, I can’t put into words how that felt.”
Perhaps he’d best get used to it: Thompson Square is preparing to release a brand new single, “If I Didn’t Have You,” on Oct. 29. It’s the first song off a new record, which the couple says is shaping up nicely and stands to be more poignant than their debut.
“On our first album, we were a little scared, and I think maybe we were a little too predictable,” Shawna said. “We didn’t want people to think we were shoving our love life down their throats. But over the past year, people have seen how much we love each other, and I think on the next album, there will be a little bit more of that love story.”