The brother and sister who embraced bluegrass as elementary school children in New England have such a solid, signature sound — in the style of their idols including Bill Monroe and Ricky Skaggs — that it feels as if they have always been part of the bluegrass community. Perhaps that’s because the music of the reigning Inspirational Country Music Bluegrass Artists of the Year is a true staple on radio, in concerts, and during high-profile events including the PBS television special Pa’s Fiddle and on such television shows as Fox & Friends.
Now Elaine and Lee Roy are again candidates for nominations in ICM award categories — this time for Entertainers of the Year, Vocal Duo, and Inspirational Bluegrass Artist. As if that isn’t enough, the duo are ready to release their next recording this month. Elaine Roy took time out of her hectic schedule to chat about the duo’s music, album, and fans.
OS: New Day Dawning is a great title for your album. How did you come up with that title?
ER: I don’t even know who came up with the idea. We started talking and somebody said “New Day Dawning” and we wanted to write it as a song. There’s such negativity in the world so when it came time to name the album we thought it was the perfect title of the album.
OS: Well, I have to ask if it also signifies a new day or turning point for The Roys.
ER: We hope it’s a turning point! We’ve struggled long and hard to get where we are today. We are really grateful for all that has happened to us and we look forward to a new day dawning and great things ahead.
OS: Now this recording isn’t a full album. Why is that?
ER: Right, it’s seven tracks. I think for us it was trying to turn out more music quicker for the fans. When you record a complete album, that’s a very long process. We just wanted to get music out there for our fans.
OS: I hear so much genuine feeling in the songs on this recording, just as I did on your first album Lonesome Whistle. What’s the secret?
ER: For us, we let the music speak, let it breathe. We don’t want to stuff it so that it is way overproduced. That way you might lose the message of the song.
OS: And how much of your music is controlled by you perhaps vs. the musicians that record with you. Do they have leeway?
ER: We let the musicians take a lot of control. We can write songs all day long but when we go into the studio, it’s important to let them do their things.
OS: You always hear about family bands and all of the turmoil they endure, yet you and Lee seem to have a very calm relationship.
ER: We definitely have our difficult days! There’s no question about that! But first and foremost, he is my brother and I am going to be there for him. Family is very important to us and we don’t want anything to interfere with that. Also, we try to remember that we started all of this as a fun thing! We always want to have fun playing music together.
OS: I know you started playing music at about age 5 and he was about 9. What did your parents think when you both wanted to become professional musicians?
ER: Our parents have always been incredibly supportive. They never said “We wish you had become doctors or lawyers.” Every show they can make, they make and when we cry, they cry. When we laugh, they laugh. They’re always supportive.
OS: I love going to your shows because your fans are so protective of you!
ER: We are lucky that we have the best fans. They start as fans and they [be]come friends. They have opened their hearts to us.
OS: What’s the best part about being The Roys?
ER: When we started this journey, we had certain dreams and goals. We’ve achieved things we never dreamt about. It’s all come to us through music!
New Day Dawning is scheduled to be released August 28 and is available for pre-order. Find out more about the Roys, their music, and upcoming shows on the Roys’ official website.
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