The all-female country band Farewell Angelina was born at a kitchen table.
Four Nashville singer-songwriters — two guitarists and two violinists — were gathered in Nicole Witt’s home, strumming, singing and breaking into four-part harmonies, when inspiration struck.
“We’ve all been in the business long enough to know when it’s put together by a label or it’s magic,” said Witt.
“This was organically magic, and we all knew it. From then on, it was like: Game on.”
The quartet will perform Friday at University Village Colorado as part of the shopping center’s Free Summer Concert Series.
After that fated kitchen klatch in 2015, the group named themselves after Bob Dylan’s famous 1960s ballad and released their first eponymous EP the next year. It earned them a mention in a 2016 Rolling Stone list of 10 new country artists to watch: “For Fans of: Dixie Chicks, Pistol Annies, SheDaisy and wickedly smart songwriting delivered with a healthy dash of sass.”
In January, Farewell Angelina released a second EP, “Women and Wine,” which includes a song written by a familiar name: Kevin Bacon. The movie star, who tours with his brother Michael Bacon in the rock, soul, folk and Americana band The Bacon Brothers, is a fan of Farewell Angelina. The two groups first met when the women opened for the brothers in Alabama. After hearing Kevin sing “I Feel You,” a song he’d written for his wife, they asked to cover it for their next project.
While covers are part of their repertoire, including a haunting version of the traditional folk song “The House of the Rising Sun,” they also use their collective skills as longtime songwriters, for themselves and big names in country music, to create new material.
“I’ve written for a lot of other country and bluegrass, Christian and pop artists, but this is the most fun,” said Witt. “It’s different. We’re writing for four voices. We all sing lead and harmony. It’s like the Eagles.”
The four singers brought a wealth of experience to that kitchen table. Witt has written songs for George Strait, Lee Brice, Lauren Alaina, Terri Clark and others; Andrea Young has toured with Lady Antebellum, Marcus and Levi Hummon, Craig Wayne Boyd and more; Ashley Gearing became the youngest woman to have a song on the Billboard charts at age 11 and is featured on Disney records, such as “Disney Mania 2”; and Lisa Torres’ vocals were on projects by big country names, such as Trace Adkins, Jason Aldean and Josh Thompson.
Female musicians are entering a promising new era in country music, and the ladies in Farewell Angelina are happy to ride the wave. The ’90s saw such powerhouses as the Dixie Chicks, Shania Twain, Faith Hill and Trisha Yearwood, before the pendulum swung to “bro country,” as Witt said.
“It’s potentially coming back. There’s Maren Morris, Brandi Carlisle, Natalie Hemby, Amanda Shires. I’m excited to see what happens there.”