By Angie Bado, TSB Publisher
Thursday night, November 29, at McKinney Performing Arts Center promises to be another big night of high energy country music when Steel Magnolia takes center stage during their concert here at 8 p.m.
The country music duo of Meghan Linsey and Joshua Scott Jones skyrocketed to the spotlight in the country music world when, in 2009, they won the second season of the TV talent show, “Can You Duet?. They released their debut single, “Keep on Lovin’ You” in August of 2009, which soared to number four on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.
Linsey moved to Nashville at 18 as a Belmont University college student who had her sights set on a singing career. Jones arrived in Nashville as the leader of a rock trio. The two met in a karaoke bar in downtown Nashville and both felt that singing together was meant to be.
Garnering nine major industry award nominations, including: Vocal Duo of the Year and Top New Vocal Duo of the Year by the Academy of Country Music in both 2010 and 2011, Top Vocal Duo by the The Country Music Association in 2010, Best Country Music Video By A New Duo by Country Music Television and a 2012 ACM Award for Vocal Duo of the Year, Steel Magnolia is currently working on a new album.
In anticipation of their stop in McKinney, TSB caught up with Linsey and Jones during the Thanksgiving break.
TSB: When did you start writing your own music?
Josh: We both started writing very early.
Meghan: I guess I was probably about 14 when I started writing my own music. Together we wrote almost everything on our record, so we’ve been writing together for about 5 or 6 years now. It’s pretty important for both of us to have a lot of creative say in what we do, in what we wear, in our music and how our shows go. We are very creative.
TSB: What has the ride been like from the time you began singing together
Has it been what you expected?
Josh: When we were kids and thinking about making it on TV, I don’t think we thought about the amount of promotion and stuff that goes into it. (making it) We didn’t realize the amount of emotion that goes into it. We were way overwhelmed. It wasn’t something we expected. It was exciting, but at the same time we didn’t have a chance to soak it all in because we were so busy. All the exciting stuff that we’ve done, we can finally take a chance to realize that. I think it was everything we expected and a whole lot more. It is a dream come true.
TSB: What’s the toughest aspect, and the best thing, about being famous?
Meghan: It’s funny – I don’t really think of myself as being famous. I guess we are on some level. The best part of that would be that we have the following that we have and that we have the platform we have to uhm.. Josh interrupts laughingly “to get more famous”.
Josh: What I mean is like you go through a lot of stuff and when you don’t have a record out, we have a chance to make a new record. Your career is like your life; full of peaks and valleys and once you get started it doesn’t stop.
TSB: Do people recognize you on the street?
Meghan: Yeah, I mean that happens. It’s different everywhere you go. Nashville is very accustomed to that kind of thing though. People like Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman will be shopping at Whole Foods and no one really bothers them around here. It happens at the airport a lot. (Josh agrees) That’s kind of funny.
TSB: So are you working on a new album?
Meghan: Yeah, we are definitely working on new music. We are going to put out a new piece soon. We are just writing and working on playing shows, and kind of figuring it all out.
TSB: You two have spent a lot of time together, particularly while you are on the road. What is that like, being together practically 24/7?
Josh: It’s great! We get to do what we love to do and the excitement of getting ready to walk on the stage when there is an auditorium full of people excites us and makes us very aware of how lucky we are.
Meghan: We do want to kill each other sometimes, though, I’m not gonna lie. Being together that much, is, at times, (laughing) interesting, to say the least.
Josh: The excitement of it all kinda sweeps it over. We do find that we at times have to tell each other we need some space.
TSB: Tell us something about yourself that most of your fans don’t know.
Meghan: I have turned into a “Susie Homemaker” lately. I guess it’s part of growing up and getting into your later twenties. I’m cooking, I’m fixing up my apartment, finding little do-it-yourself projects, like I recently painted a chandelier and hung it up in my dining room. These are all things I wouldn’t have really thought about before.
Josh: I kind of wear my heart on my sleeve, so I’m always talking about stuff. I like to cook, I’m a pretty good cook. I’ve always used my nose – whatever there is around to make, I try to put something together. I’m good at Italian food.
Meghan: He’ll take whatever is in your kitchen and make something. That’s pretty impressive to me.
Josh: You gotta use your snout – when you mix something together you smell it and you will know by the smell – unless your putting pesto cream in tomato sauce. (laughing) You can’t do that. I did that the other day to try something out and that doesn’t work.
TSB: Does it feel good to have some downtime after being gone for so long?
Meghan: We were gone for so long! For about a couple of years there we gone for like 40 days, we’d come home for a day and do our laundry, then go back out for 35 days. We are always working, but it’s amazing to be in town during the week and go out on the weekend. That was our life for the last couple of years.
Josh: Yeah, it’s really nice (to be home).
TSB: What is your favorite song that you did together? Did you expect “Keep on Lovin’ You” to be such a big hit?
Josh: No, I don’t think we expected that it would have been that big of a hit. That was a big decision in our career for our first single, but I do know that the first time we heard it, we didn’t write that song, by the way, I thought, wow, if I heard this on the radio I would not change it because it has a familiar and groovy sound to it. I remember thinking that it was definitely one (song) that we should record.
Meghan: It did surprise us, definitely, especially being the first single, you never know what’s going to happen. But it’s a great song, and has a great groove and we really put in the work and the effort to make it happen.
Josh: I think our favorite song is the one that’s being played on the radio. Right now we have a Christmas song that’s been out for a couple of years. Radio is starting to play it now. It’s called “Christmas Time”.
TSB: Where do you see yourselves in five years?
Meghan: I have no idea. I really don’t. (Laughing) Hopefully, to continue to play music at a higher level.
TSB: Are the songs that you write autobiographical?
Meghan: I think everything we write is pretty autobiobiographical. Definitely. Musical is a very emotional thing. If you are being honest, your writing about what you are going through.
Josh: Everytime I try to write a song that isn’t autobi , it always comes off like I’m a fraud, and ends up being one of the songs I never finish or play, because it comes off as fake. However, it is funny, I did grow up driving tractors, riding a hay rack and driving trucks, and I still have yet to write a song about that, but maybe I should.
TSB: What can we expect during your concert on the 29th?
Josh: It will be a high energy show with a lot of great songs, a couple great covers thrown in, and a couple of acoustic numbers. It’s always fun.
TSB: Who was your biggest inspiration when you were young and who is it today?
Meghan: One of my biggest inspirations since I was a kid, and still today, is Reba (McEntire). I got to do some dates with her last year and got to talk to her and got to know her. She was actually the first cassette tape that I bought with my own money. She is really wise, and a business minded woman who knows she is and she’s just a really strong woman. She is somebody to look up to. I was really lucky to have gotten to know her.
Meghan: I listen to everything today. I love music so much. I grew up in New Orleans, so I grew up singing in soulful bands and listening to soul music. Then I got into song writing and started coming to Nashville when I was 14. I fell in love with country music. I love Miranda Lambert, I love anything that is cutting edge and different. Little Big Town’s new record is pretty amazing. I also listen to pop radio and rock radio.
Josh: I was born in Texas, but I moved to southeastern Illinois when I was really little, so I grew up with country. I also grew up listening to my parent’s music – the Eagles, the Beatles and rock and roll from the ‘70’s and ‘80’s – stuff like ACDC, Judas Priest, so I listened to everything and still do.
Winners from the recent McKinney Mash Up, presented by Nissan of McKinney featuring the Nissan LEAF, will open for Steel Magnolia. The Mash Up is North Texas’ largest vocal competition for cash prizes. Winners include soloist Matthew Smith, group The Dupre Sisters, and audience favorite Rylee & Loren. For TownSquareBuzz.com’s coverage of those winners (including videos) please click here.
General admission tickets for Steel Magnolia are $30 and available through MPAC’s Emerson Ticket Office at 214-544-4630 or online.