Music

The Civil Wars: What Happened to the Americana Duo?

Screengrab via YouTube

The Grammy Award-winning Americana duo, The Civil Wars, were at the top of their mountain when life came crashing down around them.

Joy Williams and John Paul White formed The Civil Wars in 2009 in Nashville, Tennessee. The group released their debut album, Barton Hollow, under the production of Charlie Peacock. The folk duo won two Grammys for the record: Best Folk Album and Best Country Duo/Group Performance for the album's title track.

White and Williams found themselves on tour with Adele and working on the Hunger Games soundtrack with Taylor Swift. However, their boat hit rough seas when the band called off the rest of their tour dates in October of 2012 because of "internal discord and irreconcilable differences of ambition."

In 2013, the band released three projects: The Civil Wars: Unplugged on VH1 exclusively on iTunes, Between the Bars, a four-song EP that featured a cover of Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean," and the group's second album The Civil Wars.

Other than their releases, the duo was practically on a hiatus until they officially announced their split on August 5, 2014, offering a free download of "You Are My Sunshine" as a parting gift to fans.

They won their final Grammy Award for Best Country Duo/Group Performance after parting ways for their single "From This Valley."

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In an interview with NPR, Williams reflected on the breakup and how they "[weren't] as close as you think."

Williams gave an incite to the "internal discord and irreconcilable differences of ambition" statement:

"So much was going on at that moment. ... I wish I had a very concrete and eloquent answer for you about what happened. But the reality is, I'm still trying to make sense of it myself. There was always so much ease involved in working with John Paul, and I feel like that translated in the music, and that translated in our live stage performances. Over time, being on the road, that can be a long haul, and we agreed to a really breakneck pace, both of us. And I think that breakneck pace broke us a little bit."

When asked to specify "irreconcilable differences," Williams stated the following:

"I do believe that if we can mend some of the bridges that we burned between the two of us, we can come back as a stronger band and a stronger duo, and I hope for that. ... I love music, and I know John Paul loves music, as well, for sure. But when it came to being in the studio, I think that we definitely saw some of those ambitions clashing at times. And the beauty of it is, even though we were having some personal breakdowns, I think that tension actually made for a more emotional and a visceral project. [The Civil Wars] feels to me more emotional and more raw and more honest than even anything we did on Barton Hollow."

The 10th anniversary of the split is quickly approaching, and one can't help but wonder if either of the members will have anything to say about the fortune they left behind. However, the duo did release a single by the name of "Dust to Dust." Maybe there was some foreshadowing there?

Some of The Civil Wars' most popular songs are "Poison & Wine," "Dance Me to the End of Love," "Between the Bars," and their T-Swift collaboration, "Safe & Sound."

 

 

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The Civil Wars: What Happened to the Americana Duo?