The magic was all there right from the start; long before they started co-writing or even fell in love. Miranda Dawn and Chris Hawkes first met in 2010 when he crossed an Austin barroom floor and asked her to dance. A modest beginning became an undeniable attraction the first time they sang together.
Hawkes, a budding producer and touring artist, had a handful of solo records, while Dawn a burgeoning singer-songwriter was hosting her own songwriter group showcases, literally setting the stage for their fateful convergence. “I went every week to Miranda’s showcase to hear friends play their new songs. That’s where I really heard Miranda’s lyrics.” Hawkes recalls. “One night, after closing time, a few of us were still sharing songs, and a great mandolin player — who I later learned was Miranda’s dad — asked her to play her song called ‘Forever Happily.’ It felt familiar so I picked up a guitar and played along.” Miranda Dawn admits “Our harmony just fell in and that was the moment we both felt that we should sing together. Something happened and it was as if there was suddenly this third voice.” She continues with more than a hint of genuine wonder “I’d sung harmony with other people before, but this was definitely its own beast.”
Dawn asked Hawkes to record her debut solo album and he joined her onstage at the 2012 Kerrville Folk Festival where Dawn was a finalist in the prestigious New Folk Songwriting Competition. Their first duo effort, Golden Heart EP, released shortly after, kicked off a whirlwind three years of constant cross-country touring, co-writing, and even a run on The Voice. Judge Adam Levine called their version of the Beatles’ “I’ve Just Seen a Face” his “favorite performance on the show – ever” and the single reached No. 1 on Billboard’s rock chart. Their original music followed climbing to No. 25 in Billboard’s Folk chart and landing at No. 2 in iTunes singer-songwriter albums. Likening it to playing one of the biggest festival bills in the world, they seized the opportunity to perform in front of millions. “In the end, it put more wind in our sails” Hawkes says of the experience, “but we’ve still got the same boat – and we have to keep our oars in the water.”
Together, they kept following the tide. After filming, Dawn and Hawkes headed home to their humble studio abode in Austin Texas and immediately set to work recording Yours and Mine in between tour dates with the likes of Dawes, Patty Griffin, Chris Isaak, Jim Lauderdale, Robert Earl Keen, Valerie June, and showcasing at festivals including Austin City Limits, Folk Alliance, South By Southwest and TEDx. “We’d tour, come home inspired, record a song, tour, rinse and repeat” explains Dawn.
With a constant tour schedule, “free time” to record a full-length album was relatively rare, yet Yours and Mine never sounds rushed or compromised. The majority of the songs are co-writes, conceived in real-time while the couple’s relationship bloomed from friendship to lovers and the record stands as an unfiltered chronicle tracing a pair of hearts stumbling, floating, and sometimes soaring through life together. Though not without moments of sobering reflection, Yours and Mine is foremost a celebration of life’s beautiful moments that make us want to take another breath and another step – despite uncertainty.
“We were cynical about love before each other,” concedes Dawn, “…but maybe that’s actually why we’re able to sing about love the way we do today. In the past, I’d sing a heartache song and I’d see people who really needed some of that hope brought by the light at the end of a sad song. I’d never thought the same relief could come out of a love song, but the response to us sharing our lives has been overwhelming. Maybe people need to hear about a little hope and love out there.”
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