If you attended Sunday night’s incredible StageIt show with JillandKate, you were already introduced to new country duo, Two Story Road. This husband and wife team won over a ton of fans with their incredible harmonies and infectious enthusiasm, but will continue scoring new fans with each performance and song release. We had the chance to chat with Brandon and Jamie (Jamelle) Fraley before the show about everything from their musical history and solo successes to their favorite date spot and biggest musical inspirations.
KIC: For those readers who may be ‘meeting’ you for the first time in this blog, can you give us a little bit of a back story as to how you began performing?
TSR: We both have been singing and performing our whole lives. Most of our singing growing up was done in church. We were both very active in our high school choirs, singing at various competitions. We moved to Nashville (Brandon from OH and Jamelle from VA) to attend Belmont University and both graduated as vocal majors with a degree in Music.
KIC: How did you each end up with your solo gigs? Was it straight from Belmont to big stage?
Brandon: I was lucky enough to get a co-publishing deal with Sony Music Publishing right out of college and started collaborating as a programmer with Tommy Sims, a Grammy award winning writer & producer in town, on various records that he was working on. Eventually my name circulated around Nashville and I found myself getting a call to audition for Gretchen Wilson. The same thing happened a few years later in regards to touring with Danny Gokey. Nashville is definitely a town where the more you can grow your “network”, the better off you’ll be.
Jamie: Since Brandon graduated a few years before I did, he had a bit of a head start, but I was able to meet everyone he was working with. Right before I graduated from Belmont, Brandon was working with Jaci Velasquez on her “Unspoken” album. Over the course of that album, Jaci and I became friends and 2 months after I graduated, I found myself singing background vocals on her tour. I stayed with her for a little over 4 years. While on tour with Jaci, I also sang with two other notable Christian groups, Avalon, and Point Of Grace. Through all of that, I met and became friends with bass player Mark Childers who later became the band leader for Carrie Underwood. Mark was nice enough to give me the chance to audition to be Carrie’s background singer when the position became available and the rest is history!
KIC: You’ve both toured the country with huge country stars? What were the highlights of your respective solo experiences?
Brandon: Playing all of the network TV shows and award shows with Gretchen was always a blast, but one of my favorite memories was during a summer stadium tour we did with Kenny Chesney. We hit half a dozen stadiums throughout the country with crowds each time between 50,000-75,000 people. I’ll never forget that! Playing on American Idol with Danny Gokey was also pretty incredible. Staring into the camera on that set knowing how many millions of people were going to be looking back at you was quite the motivation to not mess up! Another highlight with Danny was being able to open up for Taylor Swift on her “Speak Now” tour. We had so much fun and it was so nice getting to know Taylor. She truly has a heart of gold.
Jamie: One of the perks of touring with Jaci was the international travel we did. Visiting countries like Morocco, Argentina, Spain, and Switzerland was absolutely incredible. Two weeks into my time with Carrie, we performed on Saturday Night Live and the Grammy’s within days of each other. BEST WEEK EVER!
TSR – One mutual highlight we both have from touring is being able to play the Grand Ole Opry so many times. We tried counting our individual performances there and we’re pretty confident that when you add them both up, it’s over 100 times! For both of us to have played there so much, always being about 10 feet away from that legendary circle piece of wood where the artist stands, it will be a dream come true when we perform there for the first time as Two Story Road.
KIC: I read that you first met at Belmont – Was it love at first sight? How did you make your relationship work while also pursuing solo projects?
TSR – I (Brandon) had just started my senior year and Jamelle was a freshman. Sure there were girls that I thought were cute during my time at Belmont but I wasn’t there for that and actually hadn’t been on one single date up to that point. I was so focused on music, until I saw Jamelle. My own “no dating” rule went out the window and within a couple of months, I had developed a full fledged crush on her and as it turns out, so did she. After thinking about her most of that Christmas break, I asked her out the very first week we started the second semester and never looked back.
KIC: You both have unique experiences on your own – what made you decide to form a duo?
TSR – We actually always wanted to sing together. Early on when we were dating, we always thought our voices blended really well together. Even though the tours we were offered to go on would cause us to go weeks or sometimes months without seeing each other, we knew that we were building relationships with great people in Nashville, and that would payoff down the road. After playing 120+ shows with Danny and 150+ shows with Carrie in 2010 and spending most of that year apart, we decided that it was time to start working together officially. Later that next year is when we came up with the idea of being a country duo and after getting our blessing from Mark Bright, we began the process of planning our exits from our tours with Carrie and Danny and started writing songs for Two Story Road.
KIC: Have Carrie, Gretchen and Danny fans embraced you as a duo? Did those artists (or anyone else in the industry) offer you any advice?
TSR – The fans have been amazing! Obviously, there was the initial disappointment about not seeing us with Danny and Carrie anymore but they all saw the bigger picture of what we were trying to accomplish and immediately got on board. As far as Danny and Carrie themselves, we cannot begin to say how incredibly supportive they’ve been. Leaving those tours was not an easy thing to do. Being with them for so long, you start feeling like family. Even though they were both sad to see us leave, they couldn’t have been more excited about us doing exactly what they’re doing, pursuing the dream. Carrie was even nice enough to let us record a song that she had actually written. In true Carrie form, the gesture and the song left us “Blown Away”! If anything, our friendship with them has grown even stronger though all of this. Everyone we’ve ever toured with has led by example, and in that way, they have offered us more advice than they’ll ever know they’ve given.
KIC: How would you best describe your sound? Are there artists out there who you’d liken your sound to?
TSR – We feel like there are a few artists represented in our sound. Whether you’re talking about our vocal arrangements or what kind of instruments and musical direction we take, you can definitely hear Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban, Little Big Town, and Rascal Flatts coming through. I think Brandon’s voice has traces of Gary LeVox, Hunter Hayes, and Keith Urban while my voice (Jamelle) tends to have a little bit of Carrie Underwood, Faith Hill, and Shania Twain mixed together. We both definitely love songs with “big vocals” and energetic vocal arrangements and we think if you listen to our music, you’ll hear that.
KIC: What is the process for writing your own songs like? Where do you draw your inspiration?
TSR – Inspiration can be a funny thing. It can hit you at the most random times throughout the day. Having said that, Nashville is a town where songwriting sessions and inspiration are often scheduled. We’ve been lucky enough to write with some pretty incredible songwriters who can simply, “turn it on”. The process is always different. Melody first. Lyrics first. You have to let the song tell you where it wants to go and do your best to not force anything to happen.
KIC: Do you have plans to release an album or tour?
TSR – That’s probably the question we get asked the most. We are currently writing and recording a lot of songs. We’ve got close to 50 songs demoed and when it comes time to make the first album, we’ll be able to have plenty of great songs to choose from to make the very best album we can. Some sort of tour will most likely happen sometime after that. In the meantime, we will continue to perform as much as possible and keep adding songs to the pile!
KIC: You can tour with two other artists – who do you put on the bill with you?
TSR – Wow. Only two. That’s tough! In a perfect world we would probably choose Carrie Underwood and Hunter Hayes even though that exact tour JUST finished. Guess we missed that one! HA! On a serious note, we absolutely love their music AND they’re great people to hang out with. Touring all the time can be tough but when you get to travel with friends, it makes it so much easier!
KIC: What’s one thing you’d like our readers to take away about you after reading this interview?
TSR – If you’re a fan of country artists like Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban, and Little Big Town, we’re confident that you’ll probably like some of our music. We’re also very active on Twitter and Facebook. I think the fans we have right now can testify to the fact that we try our best to make all of our fans know how much we appreciate each and every single one of them. People also ask us how we came up with our name. It’s simply a combination of two stories from two people, finally traveling down the same road.
All time favorite country song:
Brandon – “The House That Built Me” – The lyrics, musical arrangement, Miranda’s vocal delivery… That’s as close to perfection as I think you can get on a song. Get’s me every time.
Jamelle – It’s a tie between Bryan White’s “I’m Not Supposed To Love You Anymore” and Trisha Yearwood’s “Thinkin’ About You”. I’ve been pretty much obsessed with both of those songs since I was a teenager.
Favorite song to cover:
Brandon – “I Know You Won’t” by Carrie Underwood. I love listening to Jamelle sing that song.
Jamelle – HA! I’d also have to say “I Know You Won’t”. It’s one of my favorite songs Carrie has ever recorded and since there were no background vocals on it, I never got to sing with her on that one. I LOVE singing that song!
Brandon – I’m pretty much a tennis fanatic. When my schedule lets me, I’ll play around 4 to 5 days a week. I play in lots of city and state wide tournaments. I love that it somewhat keeps me in shape too.
Jamelle – About 6 months ago my dear friend Joanna Janét introduced me to a cardio dance class here in Nashville and I can’t get enough of it. I’d go twice a day if I could!
Brandon – Gluten Free Pizza. I could eat it every day if I let myself!
Jamelle – Mine is a 3 way tie between chocolate, chocolate, & probably chocolate.
Favorite Date Spot:
TSR – Stoney River or Ruth’s Chris. We both love a great steak!