Once upon a time the folks in Alabama and Tennessee had to wait 3 days before getting married. If an impatient bride and groom couldn’t wait or eloped, they traveled Hwy 72 to Iuka, Mississippi and the Tishamingo County Courthouse. For $2, the happy couple received a marriage license and ceremony in the Tax Assessor’s office. Tishamingo County issued over 45,000 marriage licenses during a period that stretched from the 1940’s to the 1960’s making it the Marriage Capital of the South. Laura and Lydia Rogers, The Secret Sisters, grew up 30 miles away in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Their grandparents were married in Iuka.
Laura and Lydia formed the Secret Sisters in 2010 after auditioning for Dave Cobb in Nashville. He produced their debut album (which consisted mostly of label selected covers) using vintage microphones and analog tape to capture the Rogers’ retro harmonies. The resulting sound reached the ears of Jack White who also recorded the Secret Sisters singing classic country tunes through antique equipment. Laura and Lydia had the right names on their records. They put in the miles touring with Amos Lee, Bob Dylan, Levon Helm, Ray LaMontagne, and Willie Nelson. Critically, the Secret Sisters were a success.
In 2015 Universal Republic Records dropped the Secret Sisters. A shift in management created a nightmare of litigation that only bankruptcy could salvage. Laura and Lydia continued to perform but couldn’t afford to hire a band. Depression and frustration added to the financial strain already weighing on the sisters. Brandi Carlile learned of their plight and invited the Secret Sisters to join her homecoming shows in Seattle. During sound check, Laura and Lydia played a new song, “Tennessee River Runs Low.” At that moment Carlile knew she wanted to produce a new Secret Sisters album. The project was crowdfunded in two weeks. That kind of dedication and faith from their fans rejuvenated the Rogers sisters, and recording began at the Bear Creek Studio, a converted dairy farm in Woodinville, WA.
The Secret Sisters 2014 sophomore album Put Your Needle Down featured the murder ballad “Iuka.” Produced by T-Bone Burnette, the story of lovers stealing away only to be caught and killed by the father of the bride is molasses— dark, sweet, and delivered in harmonies evocative of the Everly Brothers at their most forlorn. The Secret Sisters new album, You Don’t Own Me Anymore features, “Mississippi,” a resurrection of those characters with a re-imagined narrative from the father’s perspective. The original tale might have fit nicely among the teenage tragedy songs of the early 1960’s, but “Mississippi” is barn red bloody. It was co-written by Brandi Carlile who considered the opportunity a gift.
The Secret Sisters You Don’t Own Me Anymore is available now. “Mississippi,” which continues to haunt the air has been joined by the latest single, He’s Fine. Hear the 11th Hour’s spotlight artist The Secret Sisters only on 100.9 The Creek!