New music videos from Brenna MacMillan, with Maddie Denton

Nashville banjoist, vocalist, and songwriter Brenna MacMillan is working on her debut solo project, her first separate from her brother and bandmate, Theo MacMillan. For several years they have performed together as Theo & Brenna, and are these days focusing more on their individual songs and albums.

Brenna grew up in Kentucky, one of 12 children, with she and older brother Theo the only ones to take an interest in music. She took up banjo at age nine, and graduated from Berea College with her chemistry degree. While in school, she and Theo both participated in the Berea College Bluegrass Ensemble. After finishing at Berea, she moved to Nashville and has made a name for herself as a player, singer, and songsmith.

The social media world has also attracted MacMillan’s attention, and she has won admirers all over the world on YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram, along with her friends Hillary Klug, Mary Meyer, Danielle Yother, Bronwyn Keith-Hynes, and Christina Vane. Their short and full length videos of bluegrass songs have a great many views, and there are a good many of them.

These days Brenna is focused primarily on finishing her album, and she filled us in on a few details.

“I’ve been working on this solo project since December. Theo and I are moving into our own creative seasons; as a band we’re going to be predominantly booking private gigs while we each work on our own projects.

I’ve been playing around town a lot as a sideman, and I’ve done a few writer’s nights things on my own. I decided to put together a record with my songwriting, doing it independently with Sean Sullivan over at the Tractor Shed.

It’s all originals and I’ve got a plethora of Nashville musicians on it. I really wanted my friends, whose musicianship I look up to so much, to be a part of it. So I’ve got some very talented friends on there… Jake Stargel, Mike Bub, Theo, Maddie Denton, Frank Evans, Jason Carter, Matty Meyer, Chris Scruggs, Cory Walker, Billy Contreras, Mark Howard, James Kee…the list goes on. Additionally we’ll have some unannounced special guests.”

A couple of music videos have been released with live duo versions of some of that material, featuring Brenna along with East Nash Grass fiddler Maddie Denton.

First up is an old timey sounding song, Black Bear, telling the story of a dream she had about her and her brother shooting a bear they encountered in the wilderness.

And another, a mournful number she calls Hymnal.

MacMillan is currently engaging in a bit of crowdfunding to finance the completion of her album, and anyone willing to help can donate via her gofundme page.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.