The husband wife duo of Robin and Linda Williams is proof that you can successfully mix business with pleasure. For the past four decades, the duo has found fame in broadcasting, recording and touring.
Much of their fame comes from their involvement in the public radio show “A Prairie Home Companion.” Blending folk, country, bluegrass and gospel, the Williams have toured with the band “Their Fine Group” and sang for independent label Red House Records. True to their Southern roots as well as their great harmony, they’ve appeared at the Grand Ole Opry and Radio City Music Hall.
Now approaching their 40th year as a duo, they provided us a behind-the-scenes peak into their lives…
MAUITIME: How do you keep your professional and personal relationship intact?
ROBIN & LINDA: Mutual respect and similar interests. As Bruce Springsteen said in a song, “We like the same music, we like the same cars, we like the same clothes.” And we’re rarely out of each other’s sight long enough to get into trouble.
MT: Your roots are in bluegrass, folk, old-time and acoustic country. How do you think most people think of that music?
R&L: That it’s a music of the past. That it’s a simple music and easy to play. Anyone who doesn’t think Bill Monroe and the Carter family and Doc Watson were not incredible innovators and brilliant musicians have not taken the time to really understand the genre.
MT: Then again, country music has been revered for its heartfelt lyrics and melodic tones.
R&L: Well that’s true. It started out as a music of the people and our career has been spent trying to play music and write songs that ring true to the struggles and rewards that life brings to us all.
MT: Your music has been described as “Americana.” How have you been able to stay true to your roots?
R&L: We just finished recording our 24th CD in which we took a look at our extensive catalogue of songs going back 40 years. And in doing so, we’ve realized that we have always just done what we do. And that’s the beauty of the term “Americana’–it gives a label to folks like us who don’t exactly fit into a particular niche. We’ve always been singers and songwriters whose bluegrass, old time country and folk music roots show in our music.
MT: With each successive album, how do you deal with the pressure of having to outdo yourselves?
R&L: We just try to have fun recording, to play with the best musicians, engineer, and producer we can assemble with the time and money allotted. With that being said, preparation is the key.
MT: Now your newest album is titled These Old Dark Hills. Where’d you get the title?
R&L: We live in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, overlooking the Allegheny mountains. They are with us everyday and have become like old friends that we are always glad to see.
MT: Nice. Now, radio played a major role in your early careers. What do you think of it today?
R&L: Radio is and always has been important. Our music is less available on commercial radio, but with Pandora, Sirius/XM, and streaming, it seems that music is more available now than ever before.
MT: What’s your advice to a new generation of musicians?
R&L: Do good, live shows, focus on the music and don’t give up.
MT: What are your musical influences?
R&L: Hank Williams, the Stanley brothers, Doc Watson, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, Townes van Zandt, Bill Monroe, the Carter family and many more.
MT: What would you say is the message of your music?
R&L: That nothing stays the same; that life, and consequently, our music will always be changing and that we’re always trying to keep it honest.
MT: In three words or less, please describe your musical career.
R&L: Living the dream.
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