Joel Shepherd and Heather Shepherd: a singer/songwriter sibling duo that have been singing together in one form or another since childhood in the Appalachian coalfields of Kentucky. They grew up in London, Kentucky with musical parents. “Dad plays the guitar and Mom sings. They actually met while Mom was singing and traveling in a group with Aunt Lola and Uncle Cova. So, we both thankfully grew up in a home were music was just a part of our everyday lives. ” Other musically talented family members include The Osbourne Brothers, Cindy Morgan and their great grandfather, Reese, who was a well-known violinist.
The Coal Flowers started performing young. “Our parents would make us sing duets all the time in church. Heather would get so nervous that she’d tremble. We also had to sing in order to go to the movies. A local radio station would give away free movie tickets if you sang live on air. So needless to say, we were frequent guests. This was the only way we got to see a movie as kids.”
Asked if they could change one thing about their sibling, Heather says “I’d change his birth month. October should be solely mine” and Joel replies “I would change that she’s my sibling. Just an acquaintance is good. Just joking. I’ll be nice and say that I wouldn’t change a thing.”
These two singer/songwriters blend together haunting lyrics, tight soulful harmony and instrumental virtuosity to create a rich and memorable musical experience.
How did they decide on their band name, The Coal Flowers? “We spent months brainstorming for a band name and first ended up with Eden Creek. It wasn’t until we were in the studio that our drummer, Ty Smith, said that our name was too similar to another band and recommended that we change it. So we began to reflect on our roots. We grew up in the Appalachian mountains of Kentucky where coal mining has always been a huge part of the community. After we picked The Coal Flowers as our new band name, we actually learned about the history of coal flowers. Coal miners’ wives used to decorate their homes with coal flowers.”
Meet Heather Shepherd
Heather sings and plays the french horn and is currently learning uke and guitar. Music has always been a big part of Heather’s life. “From my earliest memory I’ve been singing in church. In school I played French horn in concert band and was in choir. ” Heather attended college on a music scholarship where she was in chamber singers and choir. “Music has always been my thing. It’s how I process and filter my emotions. Music is one of the greatest gifts that God has given me and is one of the biggest joys of my life.” Heather has had many varied musical influences over the years for different reasons. “Celine Dion stands out in my mind because I used her as a vocal coach. I’d sit in the floor and practice singing her, trying to match her technique and vocal range.”
What does Heather say about her brother? “I love sitting at the piano and working with Joel. Everything we do – from writing to singing – just flows without effort. We read each other. I also love Joel’s musical creativity. ”
Meet Joel Shepherd
Joel plays the piano, guitar, uke and mandolin. “For as long as I can remember, I’ve always had melodies rolling around in my head. We eventually moved near a church that had a baby grand piano, so I began spending a lot of time trying to figure out these melodies on the piano and writing lyrics. That’s when my love of songwriting began.” His influences include classical music, especially Bach, Mozart and Beethoven and also The Beatles, Sting and the Punch Brothers.
Speaking of his sister, “I love everything that Heather mentioned, but I also admire that she has always been a natural born performer. She takes it up to another level during live performances.”
“This album has touched my heart and I love it! These two have put their heart in this album. Can’t wait to see what they come up with next!”
“Such a creative and unique sound! I love this group and can’t wait for more.”
The album was produced in Nashville, Tenn by Drew Ramsey. Drew has more than 20 years experience in the entertainment industry and is a two-time Grammy nominated songwriter as well as a songwriting instructor at Belmont University. The album features a team of talented musicians:
David Mansfield – Violin, Mandolin & Dobro
Matt Butler – Cello
Ty Smith – Drums
Truman House (Drums on More Of You)
When asked about some of the back story of their original songs, they prefer to not give away the entire story of their songs because “we like our listeners to come up with their own interpretation for each song.” With that being said, here are their favorites:
Joel: “Eleanor is my favorite song. The name “Eleanor” evoked a picture of someone that lived back in the civil war era. It was a fun story to write.”
Heather: “Now You Know is one of my favorites. We wrote this song at my church and I remember being amazed at how quickly the lyrics came to us.”
The Coal Flowers are currently writing a new album and also working on new songs to perform while touring.
Be sure to follow The Coal Flowers on Facebook!
Photos By: Allen Clark Photography