Six-piece band Delta Rae hails from Durham, NC. Liz Hopkins and Brittany Holljes front the robust group with sultry harmonies rounded out by Holljes’ brothers Eric (vocals, piano) and Ian (vocals, guitar) as well as Mike McKee (drums) and Grant Emerson (bass). The band chose their moniker from a mythical story the Holljes siblings’ mother wrote about a Southern girl of the same name who summons the Greek gods to earth. Headlining over 100 shows each year and a regular on the festival circuit since forming in 2009, Delta Rae’s larger-than-life performances have earned coveted spots at Bonnaroo, Tortuga Music Festival, Austin City Limits, Hangout Fest, VOODOO and Lollapalooza. They have received national attention with features in NPR, Washington Post and New York Times in addition to multiple late night performances and inclusion in Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list.
ruary 2021, Chicago, IL
A modern-day pop-soul pioneer, Wyn Starks builds a bridge between the old-school music that filled his childhood — from the soulful sweep of Motown classics to the bright sparkle of ’80s hitmakers like Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson — and the grooves, hooks, and genre-bending bounce of contemporary radio. It’s a sound that celebrates not only the multi-octave range of his elastic vocals, but also the power of his songwriting. From the retro ballad “Circles” to the dancefloor-worthy banger “Split in Two,” Wyn has cemented his reputation as a progressive artist who hasn’t forgotten his roots.
Raised in Minneapolis, Wyn sang his first solos in church. The soaring power of gospel music took ahold of him at a young age, as did the pop songs, soul records, and R&B hits that he’d listen to at home, hidden from the rest of the world behind his family’s couch, headphones pressed to his ears. To Wyn, it all sounded like magic.
“I’d sit there and listen to music for hours,” Wyn remembers, rattling off a list of artists whose songs soundtracked his childhood in Minnesota. “Boyz II Men. Stevie Wonder. R Kelly. Kirk Franklin. Yolanda Adams. The Clark Sisters. I know what it feels like to be absolutely mesmerized by music when you’re young, because that’s what happened to me. And starting at an early age, I knew I wanted to create music that did the same thing for others.”
Before long, Wyn was creating spellbinding music of his own — music that made room for the wide range of his influences, while also pushing forward into new territory. Looking for a town whose music community was equally as diverse as his art, he headed to Nashville, where he signed a record deal with Curb Records during his first six months in town.
Partnering with producer and co-writer Fred Williams, Wyn introduced his unique brand of pop music to the world with singles like “Circles, “Dancing My Way,” and “Sunday Morning.” All three songs nodded to his unique combination of influences. “Circles,” with its sky-high melody and old-school chord progression, could’ve been a soul classic from the 1960s, while the bright grooves and sharply-written hooks of “Dancing My Way” evoked Motown one minute and Prince the next. It was a popular combination, with “Circles” racking up a half-million Spotify streams during its first year. Even so, Wyn was eager to branch out and show the full range of his musical abilities.
He began doing so with 2020’s “Split in Two,” a punchy, progressive single that traded his Motown roots for something boldly modern. Laced with horns, R&B swagger, and a dancefloor-worthy beat, “Split in Two” fused the timeless appeal of Wyn’s earlier work with the progressive punch of something entirely new. Lyrically, the song traced the downward spiral of a failing relationship… but musically, it represented a marriage of styles.
“It’s a bridge between two worlds, connecting the throwback vibe of what I’ve already released with the contemporary sound of what I’m working on now,” Wyn says of “Split in Two,” which he co-wrote with Jason Walker and producer Josh Bronleewe. “I’ve always loved incorporating the sounds I grew up with into the music I’m making, but I’m not trying to sound like anyone else. I’m only interested in sounding like me.”
And what, exactly, does Wyn Starks sound like? He sounds like the rare sort of songwriter who blurs the boundaries between genres and generations. Like a pop-soul heavyweight who makes music for today, inspired by the musical heavyweights of the past. Like a singular artist whose songs will inspire others to discover their own unique forms of expression, just like his favorite records once did for him.
“I’m all about inclusivity, love, equality, and acceptance,” says Wyn. “I’m an artist and an activist, and I use my music to share a message. This is music that will make you dance and make you feel good, but it says something, too. I’m always exploring who I am as an artist, and I hope these songs can inspire others to do the same.”
No stranger to change or the exploration that comes with it, Carrie Welling has been navigating life’s twists, turns, demons, and discoveries from a young age. A self-described ‘military brat’, Welling’s struggle to feel rooted in any one place carved a unharmonious path of heartbreak, doubt, and insecurity that defined her 20s and early 30s… a journey that lead to her soul-defining rebirth as an international touring artist with a place to call home in Nashville, TN.
Her bold, sultry voice, reminiscent of Sheryl Crow’s grit, Natalie Maines’ twang, and Stevie Nicks’ heart, is upstaged only by the genuine love and connection this natural performer has with her fans both on and off stage. But embracing confidence has not always been easy for this singer-songwriter, who speaks candidly about her battle to be good to herself, and to quiet the inner voice nagging her to be “perfect”. Through the process of creating her latest work, a collection of songs that encapsulate Carrie’s determination to embrace self-love, self-care, and leave the past behind, she’s found a place of peace and healing, recognizing that authenticity and vulnerability is the glue that binds us all.
In 2018, a few years after the release of her first solo EP, The Edge, Welling put out a Patreon campaign, embracing her dream to finally quit the side hustle and focus on music full-time. Her patrons, which Carrie refers to as her “champions”, have proven to be an integral part of the artist’s journey – not only supporting her online but also at live performances across the globe. “My Patreon champions started out as my fans and now we’re all friends. Some of them I talk to everyday, and they give me music ideas! They keep me going,” she says, reflecting on the creator-founded platform. [Join the Patreon Family HERE!]
Melodies rich in folksy, Americana roots, paired with empowering, honest lyrics are stunningly showcased in Welling’s forthcoming, full length album High Heels and Heavy Things. Created in a home studio in Nashville with purely organic instruments, this raw and vulnerable record was produced by Eric Holljes (Delta Rae) and features songs co-written by the talented likes of Holljes, Mary Bragg, Alex Wong, and Matt Zavala.
High Heels and Heavy Things has been a long time labor of love since its conception in 2015, to its birth in 2020. In between studio sessions Carrie took to the stage, opening for notable artists such as Delta Rae and David Cook, and performing at popular music festivals including the the Island Hopper Music Festival (Ft. Meyers, FL). She’ll be a featured artist at the “Songwriters Island Showcase” at Island Hopper Music Festival (Isla Mujeres, Mexico) in May 2021, and is scheduled to embark on an international tour through Germany and the Netherlands in Spring of 2021. In the interim she’s logged countless hours on the road, performing at venues and house concerts across the US, as well as an international tour through Germany and The Netherlands.
High Heels and Heavy Things is available on iTunes and Spotify worldwide. For upcoming tour dates, behind the scenes updates, and record release info, please subscribe to Carrie’s mailing list or become a member of her Patreon family.