They’re a talented country act who grew up in Gospel music, and the 24-year-old Missouri identical twins the Walker Brothers shared something else.
“We’ve been working as a duo our whole lives,” Coty Walker says in a phone conversation in late January. “I’m pretty sure we probably cried together.”
These days, the pair who once cried together are bringing a lot of smiles to fans and to Music Row, where they visited the Nashville Music Guide offices and performed for publisher Randy Matthews a few weeks ago.
“We’re looking for apartments there,” the Walkers say.
Gospel and Christian music have always been a huge part of Coty and Clinton’s gifting, and remain so even as they develop the country side of their work now.
The Australian worship leader Darlene Zschech (pronounced CHECK) was a major influence, both in her solo Christian music and her leadership as worship pastor at Hillsong Church, whose famed Christian music band Hillsong United remains a Walkers favorite.
Hillsong United has released more than a dozen albums of uplifting, faith-based music. From last November to this July, they will have toured in South America, North America, and Australia.
“We got dubbed as `your friendly neighborhood Hillsong cover band,’ ” Clinton says. “The harmony bands we love in country are folks like Diamond Rio and Brooks & Dunn. More recently, Keith Urban’s stuff is a big influence.”
In a way, country music is a natural extension to what they’ve been doing for over a decade.
“We started doing Southern Gospel music when were real young,” Clinton said. “When we were 12 or 13, we began doing Christian music in a local worship group. It’s been really a big part of who we are.”
Coty adds: “Country is something new from us, but it definitely hasn’t taken the focus from what we’re doing musically.”
Chas Watkins, who worked in Nashville for a dozen years before returning to Missouri and running a nightclub, is the Walkers’ manager, producer, and one of their greatest fans. Their publisher is Captain Joe Kent of Boat Trash Music, a longtime friend of the Guide as a songwriter, artist, and radio promoter whose work with another Missouri artist, Curtis Lyn Cook, has already created loads of radio and Row excitement for CLC.
The YouTube posting of the Walker Brothers’ “The Life” has already yielded over 9,500 views. The autobiographical song and video showcase the bespectacled brothers at their best, with a high-energy performance of the radio-friendly tempo tune, loads of energy and charisma, and wonderfully tight harmonies.
“The video’s takin’ off like crazy,” Watkins said. “It’s been out about six weeks now. They write all their own stuff.”
Chas met the Walker Brothers when they were doing Contemporary Christian Music. He’s been working with them for about eight months, during which he says they’ve already written six new country songs.
One of those is an ode to the family farmers the boys know so well from rural Missouri, farmers whose livelihood has been threatened for decades by the corporate giants who now run and control so much of agriculture.
That was one of the songs they performed live for Randy Matthews, who was very impressed.
“The Walker Brothers have really got a chance. They’re really nice kids,” Watkins says. “They’re also heavy into their Christian beliefs, which is another major plus. I like their style of music, and what impresses me most is that they’re both in their own right terrific singers. When they sing, it doesn’t sound like harmony. It sounds like two voices become one.”
Watkins has been friends with Curtis Lyn Cook for about 30 years, so Captain Joe’s CLC success made it a natural fit to get him and Boat Trash involved in the Walker team too.
“We’ve been in the studio working on the farmers’ song. We really like that one, we can both relate to it,” the Walkers says. “We worked on a farm for three or four years. They raised cotton and beans on that farm, and it taught us a lot when you grow up learning how to work. The song talks a lot about the changes that have been made in farming, and how the struggles today are different from how the struggles used to be.”
From a business standpoint, 2012 figures to be an exciting Row year for the Walker Brothers.
“We’re finishing up a 6-song EP now,” Watkins says. “We’ll be setting up a Nashville showcase, probably in April or May.”
In the meantime, they hope to get exposure on several hundred radio stations as they get closer to moving to Music City.
By Phil Sweetland | firstname.lastname@example.org