The Civil Wars break up for good but try to let fans down as gently as possible


John Paul White, right, and Joy Williams of the Civil Wars perform onstage. ( Jack Plunkett/Invision/AP, File)

The Civil Wars just couldn’t make it work — after being on a mysterious hiatus for nearly two years, the lauded folk duo announced Tuesday that they decided to officially split.

As a parting gift, they offered a free online download of their version of “You Are My Sunshine,” which until now, has only been available on vinyl. Apparently, they want to let down their fans as gently as possible with the bad news.

“The Civil Wars — made up of duo partners Joy Williams and John Paul White — have regretfully decided to permanently part ways,” read a statement on their Facebook page. “The difficult decision ends a tumultuous period for the four-time Grammy Award-winning band, who has been on indefinite hiatus since late 2012.”

Tumultuous is one way to put it. Williams and White, riding high on their Grammy wins (Best Folk Album, Best Country Duo/Group Performance) and a successful, critically adored debut album “Barton Hollow,” suddenly scrapped their European concert tour in November 2012. In a joint statement, they said tht due to “internal discord and irreconcilable differences of ambition we are unable to continue as a touring entity at this time.”

(They also offered to try to cover nonrefundable travel costs to the shows — they really like to ease the blow of bad news.)

Despite the discord, they managed to release a self-titled album in August 2013. Besides one very awkward video, they didn’t do any other press together — Williams said they were not on speaking terms. They also won a Grammy that year for co-writing “Safe & Sound” for “The Hunger Games” soundtrack with Taylor Swift.

And despite all of the accolades, it wasn’t enough to mend what went wrong.

“I would like to express sincere thanks to all who were a part of the arc of The Civil Wars — from the beginning, to the end, and all points in between,” White said in Tuesday’s statement. “…Whatever shape or form the next chapter takes, thanks for being a large part of this one.”

Still, the rumors fly about what really happened. Last summer “Entertainment Weekly” grilled Williams on all the stories out there (from a torrid affair to a marketing ploy because of the band’s name), but she declined to confirm any of them.

“There’s a million hypotheses,” Williams told the magazine. “It’s also a really personal situation, you know. Having a breakdown with someone you work with on a professional level — that’s a really difficult thing to weather.”

Emily Yahr is an entertainment reporter and pop culture blogger for the Style section. She joined the Post in May 2008, a week before she graduated from the University of Maryland, and worked on Lisa de Moraes' TV Column and blog.
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