Fayetteville Roots Festival Profile: The Secret Sisters

The Secret Sisters


The last five years have been a whirlwind for talented Muscle Shoals, Alabama duo, The Secret Sisters.

Since sisters Lydia and Laura Rogers were discovered in 2010 at an open audition in Nashville, they’ve made two records with legendary producer, T Bone Burnett, recorded and released a single with White Stripes frontman Jack White, and completed an unfinished Bob Dylan song.

They just got of a nationwide tour with acclaimed bluegrass band Nickel Creek, they’ve played on Letterman and Leno (they’ll be on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon this Friday, Aug. 22), recorded songs for hit movie soundtracks, lifted spirits and broken hearts with their smooth harmonies and retro inspired mash-up of country, Americana, blues, folk, and gospel music.

Soon, the band will be in town for a 5 p.m. appearance at the Fayetteville Town Center as part of the Fayetteville Roots Festival, set for Aug. 28-31 at various locations around the city.

We got in touch with Lydia and Laura from the band recently, and they were nice enough to answer some questions for us.

What have you been listening to lately?
Well, we’ve both been pretty obsessed with the band Dawes lately. Absolutely killer songwriting and playing and singing.

Also, Gillian Welch is pretty much always in rotation. We also love the new Jenny Lewis album.

It’s nice to love music that is made by artists who are current. We love music from decades ago, but it’s fun to actually be able to see these younger artists perform and put out music.

You’ve have had a pretty crazy year. Touring with Nickel Creek. Working in the studio with T. Bone Burnett. Tell us a bit about both of those things.
Touring with Nickel Creek was incredible. We’ve been diehard fans of theirs since their very first record, so to be given the opportunity to support them on their reunion tour was such a big deal to us. In fact, we both cried when we found out about the offer. The shows were so fun, with amazing crowds in beautiful venues. It was just dreamy, and the perfect way to launch our new album.

Speaking of that album, T Bone! There is so much that can be said about working with him. He’s one of the smartest people we’ve ever met, with a very keen grasp on music history, and even the future of music. Making our second album with him was an absolute honor, and we feel that we learned so much from him. It was a great moment, building our songs from the ground up with him. We were all on the same page about what this album needed to be, and he helped us get a handle on it.

We always say that if we were two-thirds of this record, T Bone is the rest. It absolutely wouldn’t be the same, or as good, without his contributions.

Have you guys ever been to Fayetteville? What’s your impression of the place (if so or if not)?
We actually haven’t been to Fayetteville, but have heard all about it from our Little Rock friends! It always sounds like a place we should visit, and we’ve fallen in love with the other parts of Arkansas that we’ve discovered recently, so we sure are excited to check it out!

Tell us a bit about how you guys came across the opportunity to finish a Bob Dylan song?
We were in the studio, finishing up the record, and T Bone came in one morning and said “Girls, Bob has sent over some unfinished song demos, and if there’s one you like, you can finish it for him and have a Dylan cowrite on your record.”

Like any normal human being, we felt very nervous and unworthy, but we listened through the recordings and loved the beginnings of “Dirty Lie.” So we took it that night to our hotel room, and finagled the song. We tracked it the next day, and that’s the story!

What do you guys like about touring around playing music? What do you do during the day (when you’re not driving to a new city).
Our favorite part is easily the live performance. Being on the stage in front of a good crowd is the culmination of years of hard work and lots of preparation. It makes everything worth the effort, when we can connect with other people through our stories and songs. We also just enjoy getting to see new places and try new things. We’re both grateful to spend our 20s traveling so much. It seems to have shaped us into better humans.

During the typical day we are either exploring whatever new city we’re in, or we may do some TV or radio during the day to help promote the show.

Any memorable meals / or restaurants you like to visit when you’re on the road?
On the last tour, we were in Missoula, MT and we both had a bag of these amazing little mini donuts, from a food truck. We both loved those! We have certain things that we always seek out when we tour, especially since different parts of the country offer restaurant choices that we don’t always have access to. Indian food, for example. Pizza in NYC, sushi somewhere near the coast. We really like food!

We’re really excited about the line up of the Fayetteville Roots Festival this year. Have you seen the lineup? Anyone you’re excited to see?
It’s a great lineup! We’ve been loving Willie Watson lately, so that’s on the list. And of course Lucinda and the Wood Brothers. Looks like a fun time!

The Secret Sisters – Tomorrow Will Be Kinder

This article is sponsored by First Security Bank. For more great stories of Arkansas food, travel, sports, music and more, visit onlyinark.com.