So far, 2013 has been a year to remember for Arista’s The Henningsens. The family trio watched as their debut single, “American Beautiful,” climbed to the top 30 on Hot Country Songs. They also released their very first EP in May, and joined the Brad Paisley ‘Beat This Summer’ tour, which has put them in front of thousands of country music fans all across the country.
Brian — the father of the trio — said their success this year has surpassed even their wildest dreams. “It’s been a lot busier than we anticipated,” he admitted to Billboard. “When we got on the Brad Paisley tour, that was a pleasant surprise. That has kept us busy all summer.” He says the exposure they have received being on such a high-profile tour has made more listeners aware of who the Henningsens are. “It’s been gratifying to see the recognition growing for our songs. You would see that start very early on, when we would play ‘American Beautiful’ to a crowd. At first, people would listen, but they wouldn’t really know the song. The next thing you know, they would start clapping and singing along. That would grow throughout the spring and the summer. That’s been the coolest thing- to connect with the audience.”
Son Aaron echoes his father’s sentiments, adding that “You’re able to make eye contact with the fans, and you make that personal connection with them when you’re on the stage. It just takes things up a level that people are starting to know our songs,” he said.
Twelve months ago, Aaron said that if someone had told him where their career would have taken them in just eight months, he wouldn’t have believed it. “We’re just so blessed to be doing this. The Paisley tour is about over, so we’re bummed about that, but it’s been the highlight of our lives so far.”
Aaron has nothing but praise for the way that Paisley has treated his opening acts. “He’s been very nice. He’s rented out a movie theater a couple of times, and has rented out a go kart facility, as well. He came and hung out on the bus one night. He’s easy going, and so great to talk to.”
But, what about the practical jokes that Paisley is legendary for? Believe it or not, Aaron says they got him first. “We actually pulled a prank on him when we were in Colorado. We all came out dressed as Star Wars characters. I was Luke Skywalker, Clara was Princess Leia, and Dad was Darth Vader, of course. Lee Brice was, Chewbacca. We came out on the last song, ‘Alcohol.’ Dad and I were having a light saver duel in the background. There was one point where he lost his composure, and started cracking up. We figured that was a mission accomplished,” he said with a smile.
For sister Clara, the year has been one she will never forget. In addition to the career milestones the trio has enjoyed in 2013 – such as debuting on the Grand Ole Opry, she also tied the knot – marrying Jacob Calaway in May.
“It’s been crazy, but awesome,” she related. “We got married on May 4, and five days later, we went on tour with Brad. I went on my honeymoon with my dad, my brother, and Brad. Not many people can say they have done that. It was really great, because we’ve been so blessed to be out with him and to be a part of his tour.”
A highlight of those shows with Paisley has been their performance of “I Miss You,” their current single. Co-written with Don Poythress, Clara remembers the day he brought the idea to them – and how quickly they jumped aboard.
“When he came into the writing session, and he said the first two lines, our jaws dropped,” she recalled. “We knew we had to write the song with him. It’s such a touching lyric, because at some point in everyone’s life, you’ve missed someone – whether it’s a death or a broken relationship, a lot of people can feel the song and relate to it.”
Brian says that even though the Henningsens are close, it’s been surprising how well they have done on the road with each other. “Spending all that time on a bus can stretch your ability to not get on each other’s nerves,” he admits, but says “We’ve survived that really well. It’s really cool to share some of the same experiences with each other.”