Married Country Singers Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson Make for Dynamic Duo
Friday, August 7, 2009
Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks do it. Kathleen Edwards and Colin Cripps do it. And Faith Hill and Tim McGraw definitely do it. Often. And in front of thousands of people.
Like those other husband-and-wife duos, Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson also make music together. "It's so normal for us to have music be part of our everyday lives," Chambers said. She toured with Nicholson, a fellow Aussie, before dating and then marrying him in 2005.
Marriage can come with a few unknowns: how to raise kids or how to spend money. But for Chambers and Nicholson, both 33, the unknown was writing country songs together. "I was really nervous," said Chambers. "What if we don't have a similar songwriting style and we write this god-awful song and we have to get a divorce?" she said. "I would fake a headache. Most wives do that to get out of sex. I did it to get out of songwriting."
Chambers grew up in a musical family, performing with her mom, dad and brother in the Dead Ringer Band. (She spent the first decade of her life living in the outback.) Nicholson, on the other hand, found his mom's old four-string guitar as a kid and started writing songs.
In 1999, Chambers released "The Captain" in Australia, which won her two ARIA Awards, the Australian equivalent of the Grammys. (She has since won five more for her solo work.) She met Nicholson through her brother, Nash, a producer.
"We sort of knew each other through music," Chambers said. They toured together and sang together and finally got together romantically but still didn't write songs together. "We talked about doing an album," Chambers said. "It just sort of didn't happen and didn't happen."
Finally it did happen. After much hand-wringing.
"I started out such a big fan of Shane and his songwriting," Chambers said, so working with him proved to be a little intimidating. " 'Oh, my gosh, you're writing with Shane Nicholson!' " she recalled thinking. And then, " 'Oh no, you're writing with your husband.' I definitely built it up to be something bigger than it was in my head."
They wrote "Rattlin' Bones," released last year, slowly and casually, after dinner, in front of the TV, with a few drinks, anything to ease Chambers's fears.
"She was nervous because she hadn't written with other people," Nicholson said. "It can be difficult. The main thing with working well with each other is mutual respect. Trust the other person's opinion. I knew that everything else would be okay, and if we persevered long enough, we would come up with all the songs we love."
The first song that came out of the collaboration was the title track. After that, Chambers said, "it was easy."
"Rattlin' Bones" is a roots-rock country album full of banjo and fiddle and melancholy lyrics. It's a departure from the poppy tunes the two typically write on their own and showcases the couple's tight, complementary harmonies. It won best country album at the 2008 ARIA Awards.