The Secret Sisters Enjoy Their ‘Crazy Ride’ to Success
Laura and Lydia Rogers — better known now as the Secret Sisters — have quietly worked their way into the music scene with their ’50s-style inspired music that hones in on country, folk and Americana. The girls released their debut self-titled album, which was produced by the legendary T-Bone Burnett, last October, and have experienced success with the album’s lead single, ‘Tennessee Me.’
Through Burnett’s guidance, the Secret Sisters have become one of music’s gems, scoring themselves a nod in the 2011 Americana Music Awards this October. Taste of Country recently caught up with the girls to discuss their musical journey, all done with sisterly love.
How did you two get involved with music and form your duo?
Lydia: We’ve been singing all our lives, but it all started at this audition that was held here in Nashville at the Indigo Hotel. Laura heard about it through a friend, and she decided to go to see if she could conquer her stage fright issues, not thinking that anything would come of it at all. So she came and they ended up really loving her voice. She told them that she had a younger sister. I drove up and sang on my own, and they loved my voice, too. We were walking out the door, and they asked us if we sang together, and the rest is history. I think within three months we had a record deal. Ever since then, it’s been non-stop touring and promotion. It’s been a crazy ride, but a fun one. It was a really quick process, and we know it doesn’t usually happen like this for everybody. We feel really blessed and are taking it a day at a time!
Did you always know that music is where you would end up?
Lydia: I wanted it for myself, but I never thought it would happen this quick. It never happens for anybody [laughs]! So I went to school to be a graphic designer, and Laura went to school for music business at Middle Tennessee State.
Laura: I knew that I wanted to be involved with music, but never, ever could have seen myself being on the creative end of it. I just wanted to be a manager. I thought I had the kind of personality to do that. I saw what was involved with taking care of musicians, and it’s much easier being the musician [laughs], but I had terrible stage fright for years. I easily could have seen Lydia doing something, but neither of us expected musical involvement for our future. But it’s been a blessing.
Lydia: You don’t turn down opportunities like this. It’s been good.
What are the pros and cons that come with working with your sister?
Lydia: It is bittersweet [laughs]! We’re always in close quarters — always in the same hotel room, always on the same flight, always in the same car, always on the same stage … we share everything, and that gets really hard sometimes.
Laura: We have the type of personalities where we don’t like to take out our frustrations or our anger on people that are not physically attached to us. I don’t want to be in a bad mood and take it out on some random person and make them have a terrible impression of me. However, when I’m having a bad day, I can yell at her all day. Then the next day, we don’t ever remember what we were even fighting about. That’s the thing about our fights … they are very, very short lived. We don’t hold grudges. It’s almost like cat fighting, and then all of a sudden, you’re all over it.
Lydia: We know that we couldn’t do this without each other, that’s for sure.
Laura: The pros … if it were just me out on the road playing music, it would get so lonely. The road is a lonely place. We’re so close to our family that it’s really hard to be gone for long periods at a time and not get to see the people that you care about. When I’m having a bad day and I’m really homesick, I know that it’s not just me.
Lydia: We read each other really well, too. Onstage, I can tell what she’s going to do vocally, and I can adjust myself to that. I guess it’s just a sister thing.
Laura: We are so different from each other, but it works. If there were two of me, it would be a nightmare. If there were two of Lydia, nothing would get accomplished. All in all, it’s really good. It’s been fun to share this experience. I mean, how many people get to look back on their lives and say they travel the world with their sister?
Lydia: And we’re really lucky to be able to do it while we’re still really young. She’s 25, I’m 22. It’s good to be able to do this before or if there ever is a settling down point.
What individual strengths do each of you bring to the table to make the duo work?
Laura: I am very Type A personality. If I see something that I want to happen, I do not stop until it happens, but in a sweet way.
Lydia: I do a lot of harmonies. Laura is very good with mid-range vocals and the lead vocals, and I feel like one of my strengths is just harmonizing. I can do that pretty well.
Laura: Plus, Lydia’s personality is so laid back.
Lydia: It works well onstage because I guess it’s humorous to people that our personalities are so different.
Laura: It just works. I don’t know why it works, but everything does — the personalities, the singing, the attitudes — everything just sort of jumbled up together makes it work.
How was your experience working in the studio on your debut album?
Laura: We had a great time!
Lydia: We were just so new to everything. It was all so overwhelming to us at that point. It was in February, so it was like a month after we had just gotten signed, so it was definitely a learning process. It was so much fun. We’ll never forget it or the people we got to work with.
Laura: It was a really happy process for us. I feel like all of our life experiences in our childhood, growing up the way we did, and all of the experiences we had, all of those things came together in that studio to create the Secret Sisters and the Secret Sisters’ sound. It was completely magical. Everything was so comfortable. Going into the studio for the first time is scary, no matter what. We were in Blackbird [Studio], standing in front of these microphones that cost more than my house does … no big deal [laughs]! It was intimidating at first, but everybody made it easy for us. All we had to do was show up and sing. It was a great time.
You worked with T-Bone Burnett on this album. So being in the presence of someone as amazing and legendary as he is, what did you walk away from that experience with?
Lydia: He just has such professional ears. He has done it for over 40 years, so he’s got to. He’s just so talented. He hears things that no normal ear can hear. I don’t know what it is … he’s got some kind of higher power or something [laughs]! He’s just so good at what he does with making records. You can’t help but respect that.
Laura: It was more than just the musical knowledge that he gave to us. He taught us how to handle our integrity as artists and to be aware of certain things in the industry. He has been very helpful and has opened a lot of doors that we may not have gotten opened on our own.
You guys are nominated for Best New/Emerging Artist for the American Music Awards. How did that make you feel when you found out the news?
Laura: It’s really crazy! We’re up against Mumford and Sons, the Civil Wars and Jessica Lea Mayfield.
Lydia: They are such great artists. To be alongside them is just an honor!
Laura: We didn’t even know we were being considered at all for that. When we got the phone call, I was like, “Are you kidding me?” It’s our first nomination ever for any award, so this one is very exciting. I’m happy for good music. I feel that there’s a lot of really good music in that category. I’m happy that good music is being recognized. That’s a victory for good music, so I’m just really excited for everybody involved with that.
Watch the Secret Sisters’ ‘Tennessee Me’ Video