The past decade has brought numerous female country artists who have riddled their songs with pop overtones. The Southern Sisters Tour is a reminder that Alabama’s country scene is full of talented, young women who are not scared to create original songs that maintain traditional country sensibilities.
This tour will bring three of the state’s most promising up-and-comers to Old 27 Grill for an evening of acoustic-infused sounds. Elizabeth Green will travel from Randolph, Ala., with a batch of heartfelt country tunes accented by her pristine vocals.
Megan McMillan will represent Perry County. Pulling inspiration from Loretta Lynn and Waylon Jennings, McMillan will be releasing her debut EP in spring of 2014.
Foley’s Christina Christian will complete this homegrown trio. According to Christian, this tour is a chance to expose as many as possible to their music. Christian went on to explain that the birth of this tour actually occurred in Foley on a country night at Good Time Charlie’s.
“We basically just hit it off,” Christian said. “We just became sisters just like that. That’s how we really met. We’ve kept in touch over the course of the past year through email. Me and Megan were like, ‘You know, we should do a tour.’ So, we just booked it by ourselves, and we have 15 dates for March and April.”
For Christian, this is just another step in a journey that began when she picked up the guitar at 12. Her affection for the guitar eventually blended with her love for writing poetry. This combination resulted in the birth of a singer-songwriter. Various aspects of her life evolved into her original music. Conversations, relationships and even movies became fodder for her songs. Christian found that her car was an excellent place for musical creation.
“It’s crazy how many things pop into your head with you’ve got no one else on the road with you,” Christian said. “You think of a lot of different things. Every week, I’m starting five or six new songs.”
Many singer-songwriters tend to keep their performances on the local level. Christian has a different attitude towards touring. It is not uncommon for her to travel great distances, sometimes for no monetary compensation. For her, it is all about getting her music to new audiences. Her confidence in her music is enough to keep her moving forward. Christian has taken her music across the Southeast with performances in Tennessee, Georgia, Florida and Alabama.
“The past two years, I’ve been really pushing my career,” Christian said. “So far, it’s taken me to places that I never would’ve thought that I would be at this point.”
This drive to excel in the music industry solidified as a freshman at Troy University. As a Music Industry major, Christian spent one year at Troy learning about concert production and songwriting. However, this self-proclaimed risk-taker decided after one year of college that she should devote her focus to her personal career. She returned home and began booking performances at various venues. Eventually, her reputation began to grow throughout the Southeast.
“Honestly, during that year, I took what I needed from college, and I’m applying that to what I do,” Christian said. “I just needed that one year of college to know that I didn’t need a degree to do this. I knew at the end of that first year that if were to stay in college, then I wouldn’t be where I am today. I know that it was a great decision.”
When it comes to her career, Christian has not been idle. Currently, she is totally DIY. She is her own manager and booking agent, though recently she has been in talks with a booking agency.
She has also been preparing for the April release of her extended play album “Hope.” Christian travelled to the outskirts of Muscle Shoals to record at Studio 144 in Killen, Ala. Local session musicians such as bassist Mel Knapp and drummer David Donald (Hillbilly Deluxe) joined Christian in the studio. West Virginia’s Dave McCormick (a regular at the Frank Brown Songwriters Festival) also lent his talents on the lap steel, Dobro, lead guitar and mandolin for the creation of “Hope.”
The musical background of each musician created what Christian called a “cool vibe” in the studio. Knapp comes from a rock background, and Donald focuses on country. McCormick brought the mountain sounds of West Virginia to the mix. The group had only four days to record this album, and Christian will be the first to admit that it was “crunch time.” On her own, Christian spent 12 hours a day working in the studio. She found this intense creation experience to be a perfect introduction to her future endeavors in the studio.
“It was a cool process, but I was also like, ‘This is what we’re going to do, and this is how it’s going to be when I really start recording in Nashville,’” said Christian.
The public has been able to sample this album at her live performances and on her website. Songs such as “Weathered Love” and “With or Without You” conjures up the twang of the old school while maintaining a fresh attitude towards the genre. This allows Christian to transcend several generations of country fans.
Her music has also been reaching the right outlets. According to Christian, she will be signing a beneficial publishing deal before the end of March.
Until the release of “Hope,” locals can catch Christian at one of her numerous gigs across the Southeast, including the Southern Sisters Tour at the Old 27 Grill. If this trio of songstresses meets their goal, then they should have many new fans by the end of the tour.
“We put this together to share fans and spread our music throughout Alabama,” Christian said. “So far, it’s got a lot of attention, so we’re really happy that it came together like it has. We can’t wait to play everywhere down here. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Band: Southern Sisters Tour
Date: Thursday, March 27 at 6:30 p.m.
Venue: Old 27 Grill, 19992 Ala. 181, www.old27grill.com