The Secret Sisters, 'firekid' (Featuring Dillon Hodges) Join Musical Forces for 2013 UNA Homecoming Concert
Sep. 19, 2013
By Terry Pace, Communications and Marketing
FLORENCE, Ala. – A world-renowned young act from the modern Muscle Shoals music scene will headline a special concert for Homecoming 2013 at the University of North Alabama.
The Secret Sisters – a sensational Shoals-bred duo made up of real-life siblings Laura and Lydia Rogers – will perform for Homecoming audiences at 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 10, at Norton Auditorium on the UNA campus. Another rising young artist from the Shoals – award-winning performer and UNA alumnus Dillon Hodges – will open the show with his band firekid at 7 p.m.
In addition to the high-profile concert, this year’s UNA Homecoming festivities range from a parade, golf tournament and alumni awards banquet to open houses, scholarly lectures and an academic conference for geographers, plus the highly anticipated Homecoming football game between the UNA Lions and West Georgia Wolves at 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 12.
“UNA’s Homecoming Concert is an anchor for the weekend activities,” according to Carol Lyles, UNA’s director of alumni relations. “It is a great way to create magical memories that current students, returning alumni and the extended UNA community can share. The Secret Sisters, the Alabama-reared singing duo, promise excitement for our hometown crowd as they have already made a name for themselves on the national scene. We are proud to have Dillon Hodges – who was named a UNA Promising Alumni in 2011 – returning to open the show.”
Born into a musically gifted family that’s been singing, playing and penning original songs for generations (their father, Ricky Rogers, is a member of the neo-bluegrass band Iron Horse), Lydia (who attended school at UNA) and Laura made their recording debut with the self-titled album The Secret Sisters in 2010. After earning national and then international popularity and acclaim, the rapturous sound of their airtight, roots-driven harmonies and blood-bound musical camaraderie prevented the Sisters from ever remaining a “secret” again.
“We’ve been surrounded by music from all sides of our family,” Laura recalled. “Our father, our mother’s side of the family, her mother and father – our church, all our cousins. Music was everywhere, day after day, night after night. The accidental discovery of the two of us – and our music – is one of those things that happens when you’re not looking. You just embrace it and be grateful.”
Mesmerized by the stripped-down authenticity of their haunting sound – a blend of musical influences ranging from Doc Watson, the Everly Brothers and Don Williams to a cappella singing at Church of Christ services in their hometown of Greenhill – Grammy Award-winning producer T-Bone Burnett (Walk the Line, O Brother, Where Art Thou?) signed on as their executive producer.
“I have been making music for over 40 years, and The Secret Sisters album is as close to pure as it gets,” Burnett maintains. "Listening to the Secret Sisters sing, you hear in their voices a sound that is timeless and of the moment. You hear the history of rural American music from the 1920s and a reverence for every musical genre this country has produced.”
In the studio, the Secret Sisters maintain their musical purity through natural (and often spontaneous) inspiration that springs from the musical “sixth sense” they’ve developed with one another over the years.
“Maybe the stuff that comes out is all that nurturing – musical and otherwise – back in Alabama,” Lydia believes. “That contributes in some indivisible way to who we are.”
The Secret Sisters proved to a breakthrough triumph, both commercially and critically, and their second album, Put Your Needle Down, is in the works. They’ve recorded with such diverse fellow performers as Willie Nelson, Jack White (of the White Stripes), the Chieftains and fellow Muscle Shoals artist Percy Sledge. Their song “Tomorrow Will Be Kinder” was featured on the soundtrack for the big-screen box-office smash The Hunger Games.
“In so many ways we are still the same kids who would perform songs in our parents' room, when we sang about silver threads and golden needles and cold-hearted snakes, and all that,” Laura maintains. “Even with everything that’s happened – getting that dream chance to make our own album – I really believe we’ve just found where we’re supposed to be.”
The UNA performance also marks a meaningful musical homecoming for Hodges, carrying the multi-talented singer, songwriter and guitarist and 2012 UNA graduate back to his deep-seated Muscle Shoals roots. Now based in Nashville, the musician enjoys reviving the heartfelt honesty and timeless flavor of “old-time” music for fresh and future generations.
“The first time I stood on a stage, I knew there was nothing else for me,” Hodges insists. “I was 11 years old and performed on a local-access TV show held in a strip mall. I'd been taking guitar lessons for a month and only knew the two songs I played. After that, I locked myself in my room and started practicing eight hours a day.”
Tickets for the UNA Homecoming Concert – sponsored by the UNA Alumni Association – are on sale (online only) at http://alumni.una.edu/secret. Admission is $35 for orchestra seats, $30 for mezzanine and $25 for balcony. Tickets will also be on sale (if still available) when the doors open at Norton at 6 p.m. the night of the show.
“Proceeds from the concert will raise money for UNA’s new Science and Technology Building, which is now under construction,” Lyles noted. “Money that is raised from ticket sales will help support the Alumni Association’s pledge to support that project and name the dining area in the new, state-of-the-art facility that will house UNA’s science and technology programs.”
A high-resolution photo of the Secret Sisters is available for media use on the UNA Gallery at: http://www.unalionsden.com/archive/photo.php?id=8092
A high-resolution photo of Dillon Hodges of Firekid is available for media use on the UNA Gallery at: http://www.unalionsden.com/archive/photo.php?id=8093