T-Bone Burnett was an early, powerful backer, executive-producing the disc and releasing it on his Universal Records imprint, Beladroit. Jack White teamed with the Sisters for a reputation-burnishing cover of Johnny Cash’s “Big River,” and the Rogers sisters secured opening slots on tours for Loretta Lynn and Amos Lee (with whom they perform at the 9:30 Club on April 6th).
Click Track talked to Laura Rogers about the Secret Sisters’ year of living awesomely.
It’s been a crazy year for you. What do you make of all this so far?
It kind of landed in our laps. It was a complete lifestyle change but we felt like it was really worth giving it a shot. We’ve both grown a lot in the past year, not only musically but just as people. I feel like we’re more cultured than we were before, like we’ve matured a lot.
Do you get treated as rubes from the South sometimes?
I mean, a little bit. For the most part everyone has been really wonderful. You have your critics who say, “This is just a novelty act that the label put together, it’s not authentic.” But for the most part everything has been overwhelmingly positive. The thing that has given us the most encouragement is the fact that the everyday people who buy albums and tickets and merchandise, they love it. We try not to worry too much about a review… a lot of times Southern artists don’t own it as much as they should, but the South has a great heritage of putting great music out into the world, and we’re proud to be Southern. We don’t apologize for it.
(On overcoming stage fright-and Jack White fright-after the jump)
How much live performing had you done before you went into the studio to record the album?
None. Zero. Not even one set. When we were at the audition where we first got discovered, we both went into that audition separately. We didn’t think anything was gonna happen for either of us and we certainly didn’t think they would have the idea to put us together and try to make a record… It was never something we were grooming ourselves for. [Singing] was just our very favorite pastime and some people heard it and thought it needed to be shared and it just kind of exploded. We don’t feel like we have any control over it right now. It’s just a wild beast we need to hold on to.
The way your voices sound together — how could you not have thought of being a duo?
Singing to us is as normal as breathing. It’s just what we do. It’s not anything special or unique. People think it’s so foreign and rare but growing up we never thought it would be anything appealing to anyone outside our immediate family. To this day it, surprises us when people get so excited about it and love it… To us, it’s so normal. Growing up I had a horrible stage fright issue. Debilitating. I could not get on a stage, so that right there is reason enough not to pursue a career in it. When it happened I thought, “I don’t know if I’m capable of this.” I really had to face my fears.
Is it still hard?
I’ve come a long way from being the kind of person who... couldn’t hardly sing in front of my friends. When we got the record deal I had friends call me up and say, “What is going on? I didn’t even know you could sing!” It almost sounds like a lie when I talk to a reporter, but I promise it’s not. It really was that terrifying.
Do you have a whole new audience because of Jack White? Are there a lot of hipster fans out there?
I think so. That’s what so great about having someone like T-Bone and also someone like Jack, because you bring in both their audiences… You have this younger crowd of people in their teens and twenties and thirties who like it because it’s fresh but also because it’s a revivalist thing. Having Jack involved has been a blessing. It’s been good for us to have both of them. We’re indebted to them forever.
What was he like around you? Was he a total fanboy?
He was just so normal. We were more worried about ourselves because we were huge fans of his long before we thought we were going to be performers, so to have him come in and produce something was just mind-blowing… I remember there was one point where we in an isolation booth recording the vocals and he was out in the main room recording the guitar. He had a guitar solo and we were standing there watching him through this glass window and we were so mesmerized we forgot to come in on our part... He was everything we had hoped. It was like Christmas in July.