East meets West as NL’s Mallory Johnson and BC sister duo Twin Kennedy unite for the timely and emotional anthem Wise Woman
Chasing your dreams can make for strange bedfellows. Factor in a touch of the homesick and the ties that bind of true-north-strong-and-free pride and you’ve got a match made in musical heaven for Newfoundland’s own Mallory Johnson and rising B.C. duo Twin Kennedy.
Meet Twin Kennedy
Johnson, who rose to prominence as a member of multi-time MusicNL winning The Cormiers, has cemented herself as one of our island’s more promising musical prospects. A 2017 CCMA Spotlight winner and 2019 ECMA Winner for Country Recording of the Year, Johnson set out to the mecca of country music, Nashville, Tennessee to pursue her dream of international singer-songwriter stardom.
It was there she’d be introduced to identical twin-sister powerhouse duo Carli and Julie Kennedy, aka award-winning BC unit Twin Kennedy.
‘We love her!’
“I was making my first trip to Nashville for a writing trip, and I’d been talking to a friend of mine in Toronto, her name is Andrea England. She suggested that I reach out to Julie and Carli of Twin Kennedy because she thought we would write really well together. She thought we would get along really great, and had glowing recommendations about the girls. And I obviously trusted her and her recommendation and her advice.” Johnson begins during a sitdown with The Herald alongside the sisters Kennedy.
“She came to our house that first day and we wrote a song and she left and Carli and I went, we love her! I hope she moves here!” Julie laughed. “And then she did shortly after and immediately we were very fast friends. We say we’re like new old friends.”
Building on that east-meets-west Canadian kinship, Johnson and the Kennedy’s would bubble-up following the COVID-19 pandemic, that rarefied air where travelling artists were grounded and the world, for once, seemed still.
“As soon as Mallory got home from Newfoundland, when she got back here to Nashville, we were quickly like, we need to be in the same bubble,” Julie recalls. “We need to write together and we need to create together because otherwise we’re going to go crazy. Let’s just all trust each other.”
“As artists you create to help get you through these kind of difficult times,” adds Johnson. “So it was therapeutic. That’s how we cope with things like that is through art.”
What emerged from those lockdown sessions was Wise Woman, a close-to-home cut sure to resonate with listeners far and wide that’s more than a little inspired by the trio’s shared experience fighting against the current in the male dominated music industry.
“We wrote Wise Woman together, and we were just all so in love with it,” shares Carli. “We both wanted to record it and then we realized, well, a song about empowering women is going to be so much better as a collaboration.”
“This song is definitely based on our shared experiences in that male dominated country music industry,” says Julie. “With country music, for some reason, it’s harder (for women) to get play on the radio. It’s harder to headline more festivals. It’s harder to get a spot at a record label … When we walk in the room with our instruments, they don’t expect you to know how to play, or they might not give you the same respect as a writer off the start.”
And it’s not just the artists in the business who are marginalized and disrespected in the dog-eat-dog industry, adds sister Carli.
“It’s the producers, the engineers, it’s behind the scenes,” she explains. “There’s not nearly as many women represented, and so I think we’re seeing all sides of that in the industry. And we’re all musicians, we’re all writers. You experience a lot of times going into the room and feeling like as the female, you have to prove yourself.”
Co-produced in Nashville with Dustin Olyan alongside the power-trio, and featuring some of Nashville’s more prominent sessions players – Steve Hinson, Tim Marks, Jeff Adamczyk – Wise Woman has taken on a life of its own, growing from spark to powerful flame in short order.
From an impactful music video featuring friends, fellow artists and family from Nashville, BC and Newfoundland, to the aptly named Wise Woman: The Show – a multi-generation and multi-cultural concert (March 26th), presented by the Consulate General of Canada to the Southeast United States featuring performances and empowering conversation from some of Canada’s best in Nashville – and it’s safe to say that a beautiful, yet unexpected silver lining has emerged in a time of doubt and uncertainty for artists.
‘Valued for our voices’
“We’ve been dreaming about different things that we wanted to make happen with Wise Woman since we wrote it,” shares Carli. “I think for all of us we felt like this is not just a song, but it’s like a theme, and it’s a whole anthem for things that we want to talk about and share. We were wanting to really spread that message. Not just the three of us, but we thought, well, why not bring in all these amazing women with us?”
“I think a lot of other women have resonated with the song, even though they’re not in the music industry,” adds Johnson. “Women today, we’re still fighting to be respected and acknowledged and valued for our voices, just as much as the guy’s voices in the room.”
For all things Wise Woman and more on Johnson and Twin Kennedy visit malloryjohnsonmusic.com and twinkennedy.com and all official artist social medias.