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Ringing like the songs of mockingbirds on an early Tennessee morning, the harmonious voices of Emily and Ben Roberts sing stories of love, hope and ambition. Equipped with nothing but their voices, a harmonica, a suitcase-turned bass drum, a tambourine and an acoustic guitar, the husband-and-wife duo espouse the sincerity and etiquette of traditional Southern music. Hailing from opposite ends of the country, the two met by chance by attending Visible Music College in Lakeland, Tennessee. It was here that the towering, long-haired and bearded Ben Roberts would meet and fall in love with his raven-haired future wife and musical companion. “I was in love with her at first sight,” Ben says. Although, it took several months of convincing to even get her to hang out with me.” Emily jokingly interrupts, “By saying he’d help me with guitar.”


The couple says it wasn’t until they took a weeklong camping trip to North Carolina, where Ben had lived for a short period of time years prior, that they realized this was just the beginning of their story. “We were there for a whole week, camping at different spots on these rivers—jumping around from place to place,” reminisces Ben.  It was on that trip when the light bulb went off. We wanted to take things more serious, so we started a band.” This trip led the duo to adopt the name Carolina Story, which Ben jokes is often misleading since Emily is from South Dakota and he hails from Arkansas. “I don’t think we ever set out to be autobiographical writers,” Ben says. We didn’t want all of our songs be about us and our lives—we’ve just let the process flow, not editing or interrupting it. I don’t know what else to write about other than what I’ve experienced. A lot of my favorite songwriters come up with these elaborate stories within their songs, which I love, but it’s hard for me to do that. It’s just natural to write about how I feel, how I’ve felt or what I want to feel.”


After glancing at his wife, Ben continues by telling stories of mystical nights where the two have stayed up writing songs for hours, noting that three of their last EP’s six songs were written on one of these occasions. He also described the spontaneous melodies that come out of nowhere, referencing the most recent one that happened while the two were doing yard work earlier that week. The duo has released two studio albums over the past four years, When the River met the Sea (2010) and Home (2011), as well as an EP, Chapter One (2013). The two agreed that if a listener went through and listened to their somewhat-autobiographical discography, he or she would be able to glimpse into the couple’s past. Carolina Story is planning to release their second EP, titled Chapter Two, on June 24.


Along with a new release, the couple is also adding another new chapter to their story this September—a child. Before knowing about the pregnancy, the duo recorded a song on Chapter Two about a future child. “We had these songs written and recorded before we knew we were pregnant, but there is a song on the album about a future child,” Emily says. “We wrote this song not realizing the future.” While they were unaware of the child to come at the time, she added that it will be a nice precursor to the next project, which will have songs documenting this experience. “The song is a reference to how we were raised,” Ben says. “We both came from families that did their best to raise us right. But being a young person, you stray from their advice and have to learn it the hard way, which is very much my story. The next verse, though, is about passing on that advice, whether they make the same mistakes or not, to your children. It meant a lot to us before we knew we were pregnant and now it only means more.”


Although they noted that their touring lifestyle will indefinitely change, this once again is just the first page of a new chapter. “We’ll have to bring a nanny on the road, but what a cool thing for a kid to grow up and say that the first four or five years of their life, they had toured the country,” Ben says. “But this is who we are; this is our life and our career. If an accountant has a baby, they don’t stop accounting. We’ll just have to teach the baby pedal steel.” In addition to the birth their first child, the group is excited for another first on June 28th—playing the Grand Ole Opry, a tradition and honor that the two noted is one of the biggest dreams for any band in Nashville, as well as one of their lifelong goals. “It’s one of those notches on the old belt,” he says. “You can quit the next day and be happy

Music | July 2014

A Carolina (Love) Story

Emily and Ben Roberts

Story by Samuel Prager

Click Magazine


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2445 Hwy 51  |  Hernando, MS 38632  |  662-429-6397  |  fax: 662-429-5229​

Ivory Closet
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