The Wilkinsons understood that blood-ties and blood harmonies are thicker and richer than any amount of record business calculation. Their music not only captivates but also shows there can be a sense of peace with the way life evolves.
With their first album, Nothing But Love, they established themselves as an act with a firm grip on both the sound and direction of what their music was all about. Listening to their first single, 26 Cents, it’s easy to see why the group and the self-penned tune garnered so much attention from record labels and resulted in so many nominations and awards.
From writing 7 songs on the first album to the 12 that they have written for the brand new project, Highway, all three Wilkinsons (father Steve, siblings Amanda and Tyler) have shown that their creativity goes beyond singing. “We’re really trying to stretch the boundaries of our music”, says Amanda. “Both in singing and writing, there is a need to keep things fresh and interesting. The last thing we would want is for our listeners to say ‘there’s another one that sounds just like 26 Cents.”
That probably explains the reason why the Wilkinsons are stretching out in other areas of music. With this album, Steve gets his feet wet in the production world. “I’ve always had some input into our previous records, but on Highway, I pulled out the stops trying different things with musical arrangements and our sound in general. Producing will certainly be a part of my future.”
Amanda is also growing with a new solo project slated for release in 2004. “Even though I love singing as part of the family,” Amanda explains, “I felt that I had some things that I wanted to say as a solo artist. Working with Tony Brown on my first record for Universal South was wild and something that I needed to do. I guess it’s a growth thing – a little scary, but exciting.”
Tyler is testing out his creative wings, as well – writing and starting pre-production for a solo-project. “The music I’m making is different from what we have made together in the past, but Dad has always encouraged us to take music where our hearts tell us to. He has given us the freedom to try new things.”
“We just love music, plain and simple,” says Steve. “That we are able to do this professionally is a gift, and to make music with your kids is even sweeter.”
“For me,” Amanda says, “when we were little and just starting out, it was about the reaction. In 30 or 40 minutes, if we could bring out smiles on the faces of our audience, it was the best. In fact, it still is the best feeling in the world.”
“And any time someone would cry from one of our songs,” Tyler picks up, “Amanda would be upset thinking she had made the listener sad. She understood later that’s just a part of the power of music.”
This kind of camaraderie is a mark of the Wilkinsons as much as their drop dead harmonies or a focused song sense. For the Wilkinsons, what you hear – and see – is definitely who they are.
It seems these days that the word “genuine” sets off warning bells, so abused as it’s been in our modern world. But if there is one word to capture what sets this group apart in today’s country music landscape, is most definitely: genuine.
“For us, we’re just a family that hangs out together and we really enjoy each other, on and off stage.”