Fact: Ward Thomas are chart topping, record-breakers that made UK chart history when they became the first Country act to top the UK Albums Chart back in 2016 with their second album ‘Cartwheels’.
Meet the UK’s Most Successful Country Act
The band (which we are thrilled to have on the Black Deer bill) comprises of twin sisters Catherine and Lizzy Ward Thomas, who grew up surrounded by livestock in rural Hampshire. The duo have had a busy few years carving a trail on both sides of the pond, having launched their musical career in Nashville, ahead of their debut ‘From Where we Stand’, before making history in the UK.
Written while at school, their EP ‘Where we Stand’ was recorded in Nashville after a rough demo of track ‘Footnotes’ got into the hands of session musicians in Nashville thanks to their singing teacher at the time, who was performing on the Tennessee circuit.
This independently released debut received widespread acclaim and started making dents into the UK Album charts, reaching number 41, 36 in Scotland, number 7 in the UK Indie Chart and peaking at number 1 in the iTunes Country Chart.
‘Where we Stand’ continued to get noticed – next by 20-times Grammy and 18 times CMA award-winner Vince Gill, who has since become a mentor. It also led to the twins signing for music label giant Sony/WTW, and was crowned UK Album of the Year at the British Country Music Awards in 2014 – selling over 25,000 copies.
Their follow-up album, ‘Cartwheels’ was then recorded stateside in Nashville and broke into mainstream circles when it made chart history (and beat Jamie T to the number one spot in 2016.) ‘Cartwheels’ was recorded with Bobby Blazier and Chris Rodriguez, who have worked alongside Wynonna Judd and Shania Twain.
Big thanks must go to a Canadian cousin of Ward Thomas who, when the girls were teenagers and first penning their songs, introduced the UK country queens to the likes of Dixie Chicks, Johnny Cash and Alison Krauss. Taylor Swift, Fleetwood Mac and country dame Loretta Lynn are also name checked as influences.
Though the sister act aren’t the only ones to lead the revival and help pave the way for a younger generation of Americana artists. Country duo, The Shires (also hailing from the home counties) tasted success with their pop-tinged country tracks when their debut album, ‘Brave’, threw UK country into the Top 10 for the first time ever. The Shires have since become the first British country band to sign to American major label, UMG Nashville.
Both duos have been able to produce an authentic country sound embraced by fans at home and stateside whist staying true to their British roots. The Shires sum things up perfectly in track ‘Nashville Grey Skies’ when they sing ‘We can build our own Nashville underneath these grey skies’…
We couldn’t agree more.