It’s a match made in reality singing show heaven: The Voice season seven winner Craig Wayne Boyd, season 10 runner up Adam Wakefield and American Idol season nine’s third-place finalist Casey James have joined together to form country trio Texas Hill.
After performing a number of shows together this fall— still as solo artists — they realized the whole could be greater than the individual parts. “We all saw the benefit of bringing three different audiences together from a touring perspective, but none of us were committed to the band until we sat down and actually started making music together,” James says. “The first day that we really worked up a few songs to test the waters really sealed the deal for us. Hearing our voices blend together was something that got us all excited and, from that point on, we have all been 100% resolved to make it happen.”
Their first single, the inspirational “Darkest Sky,” premieres below and seems especially salient in these troubling times.
“I had been spending some time down in Muscle Shoals writing with one of my favorite writers and artists, James LeBlanc. After one of the writing sessions, James played me ‘Darkest Sky.’ I asked for a copy of it and listened to it all the way back from Muscle Shoals to Nashville,” Boyd says. “I sent it to the boys because I felt like it was definitely a message that we could relate to in our own lives and careers —not knowing that the world would be taken by a pandemic a few months later—and it fit right into how we feel about it all.”
James stresses that the three will continue their solo careers. “Each of us having our own personal outlet that we have full control over is a key element to keeping any of us from pushing the band too hard in our own direction. It’s a very important element in the way that this band does things.”
Individually all three have have success on Billboard charts including Boyd’s “My Baby’s Got a Smile on Her Face,” which reached No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs; James’ “Crying on a Suitcase” reached No. 14 on Country Airplay, and Wakefield’s “I’m Sorry” topped out at No. 18 on The Hot 100.
The name Texas Hill serves as a bittersweet homage. “We needed to find something we all had in common. Casey and Craig are both from Texas. When I was a kid I lived on a road called Texas Hill Road [in New Hampshire]. My brother and I were always drawn to Southern music as kids, and after high school, he started a band called Texas Hill. I was going to join them after school instead of going to college,” Wakefield says. “ The band broke up before I graduated and I went to music school instead. My brother passed away before we got to start another band together, so when I brought the idea to Casey and Craig. I thought it would be a cool way for my brother to live on in a small way. Ultimately, when I told the fellas that it would make my mom happy it was a done deal. Nothing trumps the mom card.”
The threesome are working on an album at Nashville’s Ocean Way Studios— or were— until the shutdown hit. “The songs we’ve already recorded have a live feel to them and we don’t want to jeopardize that, so it looks like we’re going to just have to wait a little while before we can get us and the other musicians back in a room to jam,” Wakefield says. “We are going to start releasing what we have ready and are committed to releasing more music soon, we’re just not sure what that is gonna look like.”
The trio, who are booked by UTA, have also had to put touring on pause, but hope to hit the road later this summer or fall. Until then, Boyd says they are planning some virtual shows.