Jack White and Karen Elson announced their split last month, but rather than mourn, the couple celebrated their union with a divorce party. Country proteges the Secret Sisters — who released their acclaimed debut country CD last year — weren’t surprised by the party. I caught up with Laura Rogers — half of the Muscle Shoals, Alabama sister act — and got her take on the White split.
US: Are you real sisters?
SS: Yes we are. We are really, truly sisters.
US: How did you form the act? How did it all come to be?
SS: Lydia and I had never performed together in public. We had always performed together and played around the house together but we never put together an act or pursued it professionally. On Oct. 9, 2009, we went to an audition being held in Nashville… We went to that audition, and the judges on the panel really loved it, and through that we met our manager and our producer Dave Kobb. They helped us to put together a demo that eventually got us our record deal, and that led to the recording of the first record and working with T-bone and Jack White and touring and everything that has happened since then. It has been a whirlwind.
US: How do you feel about preserving a musical legacy and heritage?
SS: Growing up and listening to the kind of music we have listened to, it was just that we loved the music… Now that we are doing this and seeing the reaction that is getting, now we do feel a little bit of responsibility. We have a partial responsibility to preserve this music, which is so special as a part of American History.
US: How did Jack White get involved?
SS: We were both big fans of his for years before we became the Secret Sisters. We loved him and were really influenced by him. We recorded our record and a couple months after it was finished our label sent the record out… All we really wanted was for Jack to hear the music and say, ‘This is really cool. I like it.’ We got a phone call that he loved it and wanted to bring us into his studio. June of last year we went into the studio with him, we recorded two songs with him that he released through his label. It was a little wild and crazy side project. It was an incredible experience and we had a lot of fun with him. As much fun as we had in that studio with him, I sure hope we can go back and do it again.
US: What is Jack White like as a person?
SS: We didn’t know what to expect. [Meeting him] was our first encounter with a real, legitimate established artist. That was our first introduction to these really talented people who have made a name for themselves. We were a little apprehensive because when you meet a hero of yours you are always afraid that they are going to disappoint you. He completely surpassed our expectations. We all got along really well. He is actually really funny. He was telling us funny stories about his kids and cracking up with us and joking about different things. There was a really good chemistry between all of us.
US: Did you get to go to his divorce party recently?
SS: No we didn’t go to that. We were very good friends with his wife.
US: What happened with those two?
SS: I have no idea. I guess it’s hard for anybody, but [especially] for two people who are making their way in the world of music and modeling. We were sad to hear it but we are hoping for the best and hoping that the kids are happy. I think that they will be able to maintain a really good friendship; I have got a lot of hope for that. They both seem to have a good attitude about it so maybe it will be a friendly split.
US: What did you think of them having a divorce party?
SS: I am not surprised honestly. I was like, ‘Well that makes sense.’ We were on tour so we missed that one. I was told that they got married in a boat and not many people get married in a boat so that was cool. One little cool thing about Jack is that he is very interested in taxidermy. I am not just talking about a stuffed fox. He has got this huge stuffed giraffe in his studio so maybe there were some stuffed animals at the party.
US: What is next for The Secret Sisters?
SS: We are on our summer vacation for the next week and a half and then we head back to England and spend a lot of time over there. We head over there for a couple of weeks to play at some festivals and other shows. Then we come back to the states to play at the Newport Folk Festival. Then we go out on tour with k.d. lang for a couple of weeks. It is pretty exciting. We are going to do a tour with Brandi Carlile towards the end of the year so we have loads of shows coming up. I think we have played one hundred and twenty shows already this year so we have been busy but good busy and we are having a blast and meeting incredible people.
US: Is there anyone else you’d really like to work with?
SS: We really want to work with Loretta Lynn. We were scheduled to go on tour with her and play four shows this spring but she ended up having to have emergency knee surgery so the dates got canceled, and we didn’t get to go, which was a huge disappointment. We feel that hopefully that will happen again. I have been listening to a lot of Gillian Welch lately, and I would love to go out on the road with her. There are loads of people and we have knocked a lot of them off of our list already, which is incredible. Any of the old legends that we still have with us [would be fun to work with].