Redhead Express, a quartet of bluegrass singing sisters, has just signed with SSM Nashville Records. The girls, all now proper young ladies, have been playing and singing together since they were wee lasses, and it looks like their hard work has paid off.
Starting when the family was living in Alaska, the Walker siblings learned to play bluegrass instruments. Kendra is on guitar, Larae is on banjo, Alisa on fiddle and mandolin, and Meghan on bass. Now living just south of Nashville, the Express tours all over the US taking a more pop country approach to bluegrass. They have developed a large following online, largely through their elaborate music videos, several of which have been acoustic/bluegrass covers of major pop hits.
As the girls have grown up, married, and started their own families, the road life has remained their focus. Their dad, Brett, who manages the band, told us that they now take three babies with them on tour, along with their dads. One of the girls’ husbands is their audio guy, and another travels with them handling merch. It’s still a family band, it’s just becoming a bigger family!
If you’ve not seen them at bluegrass festivals in the past, it’s because this self-contained operation doesn’t often work the traditional bluegrass circuit, taking their clean cut show and positive attitude to many places where people aren’t as familiar with the music. Sometimes with the assistance of their equally redheaded younger brothers, the Walker women bring a new set of faces to the music we all love.
And they are excited to partner with Patti Olsen-Garafola and Dean Scallan with SSM Nashville for this next stage of their career. The label understands what this group is about, including their desire to retain the bluegrass elements of their sound even as they plan a push to the country market.
When I asked Brett if they would keep the bluegrass instruments and sound going forward, he chuckled and said…
“I don’t how it ever leaves you. All the girls studied music in the Appalachian region, and I think Kendra would quit before she would lay that part of it down.
We had been talking with SSM Nashville for the past two years, and they understand what the girls do, and how their sound developed. We all feel very lucky to have a partner who gets what they do.”
But there will be some electric guitar and drums mixed in with the banjo and fiddle, provided, of course, by the younger Walker boys. Sean, their oldest younger brother, serves as their videographer and now has his own commercial video company, Redhanded Productions, which he launched when he was only 16.
Here’s one he produced for them in 2014, a Maroon Five cover of the song, Maps, shot along the rocky Oregon coast.
The next Redhead Express record is due later this year, with a single going out in a few weeks to country radio. Brett said that when the girls worked the Country Radio Seminar in February, the response from hosts and programmers alike was enthusiastic, sharing their excitement about hearing a new sound in country music.
The success of Mountain Faith with a pop bluegrass sound may be a harbinger of where other young groups will look for a leg up in their climb up the ladder. Let’s hope that Redhead Express can do the same.
But bluegrass will always claim them as our own.