New Music To Know: The Henningsens Keep It All in the Family

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The Henningsens

(Courtesy Sony Music Nashville)

From the Carter Family to the Louvin Brothers to The Band Perry, country music is known for producing some great family bands. The Henningsens — featuring father Brian on bass, son Aaron on guitar and daughter Clara on lead vocals — are the latest in that great tradition.

This family band from a farm in Illinois started out as a songwriting trio after the father of ten and two of his kids were recruited by a Nashville friend in 2007 to help him with a song. The trio has now written several songs for The Band Perry, including their No. 1 single “All Your Life” off their 2012 self-titled album and the title track off their 2013 album Pioneer.

Though The Henningsens often performed their song at open mics in Nashville, they only really considered becoming a band after producer and former record executive Paul Worley (Dixie Chicks, Lady Antebellum) suggested they give it a go.

“We never thought about the idea that we would do this as a group,” Clara told “Then we met Paul Worley and he really liked our writing style. He encouraged us to pursue an artistry together. It was kind of weird, because who wants to be in a band with their dad and brother? But he thought that was the genius of it.”

Now the trio is out on their own with an EP and a new single called “American Beautiful,” which focuses on a girl who’s a little unusual and who loves the Rolling Stones.

“The girl in the song is me,” Clara said. “I can honestly say, pretty much every girl I know, all my best friends growing up, all my cousins, all the women I grew up with influencing my life, were unique in their own way…We wrote the song from a lot of people we knew as characters.”

This unusual girl Clara sings about has a penchant for the Rolling Stones, but the singer herself says she will always pick The Beatles in the classic Beatles vs. Stones debate.

“They really influenced us a lot, lyrically and musically,” Clara said. “We want our music to stand out, slightly left of center. That’s the thing with the Beatles, listen to their music…and next time the lyric may mean something completely different. We want our music to have that effect on people.”

As the only female in her family band, Clara says there are some things that are off-limits in terms of songwriting.

“You don’t necessarily want to write a drinking song with your dad,” Clara said, laughing. “Maybe some people do but for us it’s kind of like, ‘Uh let’s stay away.'”

But she added, “One thing I’ve been surprised about with my brother and my dad is they’re really good at getting in touch with their feminine side.”


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