Sisters Whitney and Carolina Miller of the Maggie Valley Band have a fresh take on an old country sound. Their brand of “dark Appalachian music” will simultaneously crush your soul and send your heart soaring. They’ve released an EP and a new single, and they’re heading into the studio soon. They just wrapped up a tour, and there’s one on the horizon. The Maggie Valley Band are very busy. But they graciously took the time to answer a few questions about raw sound with a 60s spin, the support of family, and the all-inspiring Jessi Colter.
Where are you from? Where are you now?
Maggie Valley, North Carolina, but spent/spend a lot of time traveling to Florida and many other states.
Tell me about the music you make.
Well, we stand by our slogan: “A raw approach to Appalachian music intertwined with a heavy sixties influence.” Someone once asked us why we played this style of music, he remarked to us about how sad it was, later a friend called us a sad sandwich. We’ve pondered that question a bit, maybe that’s exactly why we do it. We make this kind of “dark Appalachian music” because, sometimes life is unbearable. Yet, there’s always hope and what you do with that pain tells a lot about you. Whether, you seek crutches to get you through life or you embrace the obstacles head on-that can make all the difference. We want people to know – we’ve been there, we are there, and we’re making it through – you’re not alone. Our music is to help people focus on the hope that gets you through the pain.
Does living in the South impact your music? How?
Absolutely it does and we could not imagine living anywhere else. We are influenced by some of the best music in the world, We get classic country from Tennessee, bluegrass from North Carolina and Kentucky. Yet, the dark Appalachian seems to be a product of loving folk music and living in a bluegrass valley. We get all these great influences and mix them together.
How does your family affect your musicmaking?
If it wasn’t for family, we wouldn’t be a band. Our parents raised us to play piano daily for thirty minutes. Then after four years, we were able to choose another instrument. They always provided us with support and the instruments we chose. Even till this day, our parents support our music and sometimes come to our shows. Our Dad, always asks us if our van is running and Mom is always worried about where we stay (we wonder why! haha).
What are your hopes for your music?
To change and impact lives. We want to spread truth. We want others to know we hurt and we are open about how we are dealing with the problems. You’re not ever as alone as you think you are.
Where will you go and what will you do next?
We just came back from Nashville and that was a great foot in the door. Next, we’re headed to Ohio in March to spend a week there and record with David Mayfield. We’re beyond excited to record with David, he is a grammy-nominated producer. We have followed his career for a long time and could not imagine recording with any other producer at this point. After that we’ll hit the road soon for summer.
Where are you headed on tour?
We just came back from Kentucky, Tennessee, and South Carolina. We’re off the road till the album is complete. This summer we will head back to Tennessee, Virginia, Indiana, New York, Kentucky, South Carolina – that’s what we have planned so far.
Who do you listen to?
Willie Nelson, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Merle Haggard, Jessi Colter and Waylon Jennings, Alabama, Bruce Springsteen, Carter Family, Balsam Range, Dolly Parton, Bob Marley
(Caroline does. Well, she is the bass player and those reggae bass lines plus values – does it get any better?) Country music throughout time has changed and it’s been incredible to see the differences. All these artists share truth and talent and work hard.
Who inspires you?
Waylon Jennings & Jessi Colter, June and Johnny Cash – they all felt the pain of life but found truth and it changed their lives.
Martin Luther King Jr., choosing to love people regardless of how he is treated. He stood for truth when it was unpopular, and radically made people feel valued and set the stage for how to disagree peacefully.
Any favorite Southern women?
Margo Price-well I reckon she’s southern now? She’s an artist who has worked a really long time and is finally getting the recognition for it. Nobody knows where she was ten years ago, but let me tell you – she wasn’t sitting on the couch watching tv. She has worked her butt off to get where she is. Dolly Parton – we wish she was our godmother. We’re obsessed with Dollywood. She came from nothing and worked her way up with no special treatment. Her longstanding faithful marriage of 50 years with her husband is inspiring. Jessi Colter and June Carter Cash are women who made some incredible stands and pushed others to better and live selflessly. Mother Maybelle, Kitty Wells, Tammy Wynette are some other major influences.
Any other Southern women or non-binary or trans Southerners making music that we should know about?
Margo Price has been one of our admired artists for the past five years. Caroline saw her at the first Wildwood Revival in Georgia and was blown away by her music. Looking further into her influence, she approaches women in the industry like no other. Many times, people cry for equality by drawing upon the differences, for instance even hashtagging #womeninmusic. Margo is different and even pleads for people to stop that hashtag. Margo, should, and is becoming a main face of country music, but it’s because her music is good. Not because she is drawing upon her difference of being a woman in music as her main point, but focuses on the music being the selling point.
Mary Meyer also is an up-and-coming artist in Nashville, and she is an incredibly gifted singer. She is one of the most humble people you’ll meet and is a great encourager and leader of single women making it genuinely in this business. People in this business use people, but Mary is focused on still meeting people and making them feel valued. Her album is coming out sometime this year.
Here they are introducing themselves and some Maggie Valley Band news (be still, heart):