Last semester, I learned about the importance of collaboration in music. Lennon and McCartney, Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn and even Billie Eilish and brother Finneas O’Connell exemplify how cooperation is necessary for a prosperous music career. But how does marriage impact collaboration, and how does working together impact a relationship? Married Americana duo Drew and Ellie Holcomb demonstrate that the art of give-and-take is crucial to strengthening all relationships — personal and professional.
Drew and Ellie Holcomb will be performing at the Carolina Theatre Tuesday, Feb. 25 at 8 p.m. The performance is part of their 2020 You & Me Tour, in which members of the band The Neighbors will accompany them in cities across the South and Midwest.
The Nashville-based duo started touring with The Neighbors in 2006. Drew continues to tour the nation with the band, recently releasing an album titled “Dragons.” Ellie no longer tours with The Neighbors, but she has topped the Christian charts with her solo albums “As Sure As The Sun” and “Red Sea Road.” Although both of the Holcombs have successful solo careers, this tour highlights how music is inspired by love and how love enhances music.
Their 2019 EP “Electricity” combines traditional Christian values with contemporary acoustic elegance, complementing the moving piano ballads on their 2018 EP “You and Me.” The uplifting “Love Anyway” emphasizes the need to care for others unconditionally; their rendition of Sting’s “Fields of Gold” reflects on finding forgiveness in the past and holding hope for the future. The songs featured on both EPs reveal how the Holcombs can rely on each other to find peace in stressful times and how the pressures of working and touring can be conquered through love.
There is beauty in the duo’s vocal harmonies, but the ability to maintain balance between home and work life enriches their artistry as much as each single.
“Like anything good, of course [finding balance] is also hard. I think more than anything we get to enjoy this shared love of music,” Drew said. “We also get to take our kids on the road with us for the You & Me Tour and let them get a taste of what our work and creative life is like. I am not sure we have ever found the right balance, but we are always trying.”
The couple brings the authenticity characteristic of acoustic and folk music native to the Carolinas and Appalachia. The growth of bands such as The Avett Brothers may be indicative of a resurgence of the genre in the music industry.
“I think in a fast paced digital world where you have the world at your fingertips, acoustic folk music is a good antidote to the chaos,” Drew said. “It is simple. One of my favorite bands in this space is Mandolin Orange, a North Carolina band. Their music makes me want to put my phone down, pour a nice glass of wine and have a long conversation with a friend.”
Ultimately, what I find to be the most significant lesson the Holcombs teach is that love does not equal dependency. Through nearly 15 years of marriage, both Drew and Ellie have had successful solo careers and developed their artistry as a duo. The Holcombs demonstrate not only the possibility of working well together while maintaining individual identity, but its value, too.
“I think we have gotten a lot better [over time],” Drew said. “We are better songwriters, better singers, better entertainers, more relaxed, more comfortable, more confident and all of those things come with time, practice and many nights of learning things the hard way.”
This month, to experience the sentimentality, passion and admiration found in this couple’s music, spend an evening with Drew and Ellie Holcomb at the Carolina.
“More than anything, I hope our songs and the show make people feel more alive by the end of the night than they did coming into the show,” Drew said. “We hope the show is full of humanity, laughter, sorrow, joy and all the things in between.”
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The You & Me Tour: An Evening with Drew and Ellie Holcomb will come to the Carolina Theatre of Durham on Tuesday, Feb. 25 at 8 PM. Tickets are available online.