Country fans are no strangers to the uncanny musical connection of a family band, but they’ve never heard anything like the duo High Valley – and that’s simply because brothers Brad and Curtis Rempel never knew how country was “supposed” to sound.
Growing up in La Crete, Alberta — more than a 40-hour drive from where they now live in Music City — Brad and Curtis were completely cut off from the world of pop culture throughout their early lives. “It’s not that we weren’t allowed to have a radio,” lead singer and songwriter Brad, explains. “We had radios, but you turned them on and heard a lot of static from an AM station 300 miles away. When it was cold enough you could hear the farm report, the price of grain and the occasional old school country song.We finally got FM in our town when I was in 10th grade.”
While their upbringing didn't exactly acquaint them with the Billboard 100, it’s that insulation that helped cement their musical ideals and love of simple, classic country, allowing High Valley’s music to feel simultaneously fresh and timeless. Dear Life, their major label debut releasing November 18 on Atlantic/Warner Music Nashville, is an album that fuses tradition with wide-eyed musical exploration, stays true to their family-first value system and celebrates resilient positivity.
High Valley learned to become skilled digital citizens, building an avid fan base that is actively involved in selecting the duo’s songs through the High Valley app and connecting with each other via social media. As a result, they have amassed more than 10 million song streams worldwide – including 5.75 million for lead single “Make You Mine,” which also represents the duo’s first Top 30 and climbing radio hit.
Likewise, they are the first country act to broadcast live on Twitch.TV in the United States, their song “Young Forever” scored placement on EA Sports’ Madden NFL 17 Soundtrack. and the band has been selected for “Ones to Watch” recognition by Spotify, CMT and Taste of Country.
“You could say it’s weird that we come from the upbringing we do and make this kind of music,” Curtis admits, “but if you analyze Dear Life and the messages on it, you can almost tell that we were brought up the way we were.” “That’s why the record was called Dear Life,” says Brad. “Because that song for me was trying to write a journal entry to God and my life and say, ‘I really have loved every mile of this road.’”
Saying their biggest compliment is when a fan describes their music as “old-school and modern” at the same time, “Make You Mine” is an excellent introduction to the rest of Dear Life. “She’s With Me,” for example, is an anthemic opening track that begins as something ancient and ends ahead of the country curve, also announcing High Valley’s desire for their music to be positive and family oriented.
“My life is not perfect, but I’ve experienced dark things with positive results at the end of it,” Brad says. “The opening line of the entire record says ‘When the devil’s knocking at my door,’ and I wouldn't say that’s a very positive idea, but the conclusion of the whole song is ‘Holy cow, she’s been with me through the thick and thin,’ and that’s been my experience with my wife.”
“Families are a tough thing in today’s world,” Curtis agrees. “They fall apart all the time, and if we could leave our mark by doing our little part and trying to bring families together, I think that’s great.”
Meanwhile, the title track “Dear Life” is a foot stomping thank-you letter inspired by watching children grow, “Don’t Stop” offers steady encouragement to persevere and the hand-in-hand “Memory Makin’” asks the question, “Do you believe that there’s a meant-to-be?”
“Roads We’ve Never Taken” shows their energized and optimistic outlook with plucky, banjo-rolling abandon, while the chanting gang vocals of “Young Forever” were dreamed up during a family beach trip to Pensacola.
“Nothing makes you feel more young than chilling on a beach and throwing a football around in the waves,” Brad says with a smile. “It’s like ‘Man, if we could freeze this weekend and stay young forever, it would be perfect.’”
The Rempel brothers have already scored six Top 10s, three Gold certifications, played to 15,000 seat arenas opening for Shania Twain and earned multiple awards show wins – including Canadian CMA Group of the Year. And now with their major label debut, a fall tour with Martina McBride and a headlining U.K. trek on the way, it’s true that High Valley inhabit a much different world today than the one they were raised in. But some things remain the same, and that is the central theme of one of the album’s most
powerful tracks, the hard-charging backroad rocker, “I Ain’t Changin’.”
“That was a very important song for me because of our upbringing,” Brad explains. “The chorus is like ‘I ain’t changing the way I talk, I ain’t changing the way I pray, I ain’t changing my last name.’ Yeah, I’m in a big city now, not in the middle of some field somewhere…”
“But that doesn’t change the core of who we are,” Curtis jumps in.
Brad continues. “I remember coming to Nashville six years ago and thinking about 100 different things that would blow my mind – and they’re all happening. I don’t want to wake up one day and say ‘Wow, I’m completely different than what I was.’”
If anything, Dear Life is evidence that Brad and Curtis shouldn't worry about losing their way. Their calling is a strong one – to bring positive and original family-friendly energy back to the country landscape – and they’re following it with passion. More...
With Special Guest
Julie Roberts first stepped into the national spotlight with 2004’s self-titled debut album. Fueled by the top 20 Country smash, “Break Down Here,” “JULIE ROBERTS” quickly earned RIAA gold for sales in excess of 500,000, as well as a plethora of critical praise. “One of the most auspicious debuts in years,” declared Entertainment Weekly in an “A” rated rave. “(Roberts) cuts through country's dross to find its bluesy heart. In choosing songs of substance and sensuality, the South Carolina native harks back to the confessional style of Linda Ronstadt, packing hidden hurts and dashed dreams into every chorus.” The New York Times agreed, praising “JULIE ROBERTS” as “an album full of addictive and complicated love songs,” further naming “Break Down Here” as “one of the year’s best country ballads.”
Roberts was an undeniable sensation, making a wide range of national TV appearances, including three memorable performances on NBC’s The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and five appearances on ABC’s Good Morning America, not to mention being paired alongside Rihanna in Clinique’s “HAPPY” campaign. In addition, she was the first-ever focus of CMT’s In The Moment, documenting how she rose from Universal Music Group Nashville assistant to a breakout star in her own right. Multiple honors also followed, including an array of nominations from the Country Music Association, the Academy of Country Music, and the CMT Awards. She was also chosen over artists in all musical genres to sing the "Good To Go" theme song of the television show Good Morning America two years in a row.
“MEN & MASCARA” followed in 2006, making a top 5 chart debut on Billboard’s “Top Country Albums” tally while also entering among the top 25 on the overall Billboard 200. The album – which marked Roberts’ first foray into songwriting, with four co-writes among the tracklisting – again earned widespread applause, with Allmusic.com extolling it as “a Nashville country album that transcends the usual clichés to a remarkable extent.” Over 1 million records have been sold from her first two albums alone.
Having spent years touring and recording, Roberts took a brief hiatus from music to recharge her batteries and confront a number of personal challenges including living with multiple sclerosis and losing her home in the "1000 Year" Nashville flood in 2010. Both Julie and her family were rescued by boat from their home during the flood. She returned stronger than ever with 2011’s “ALIVE” and the “WHO NEEDS MISTLETOE?” Christmas EP, both released via her own independent Ain’t Skeerd Records. The Yuletide-themed EP received critical hosannas across the board, with the New York Times hailing it as “Ms. Roberts’s best work since her smoldering self-titled 2004 debut. Like that album, this EP is sparse and desperate-sounding, with plenty of spaces for Ms. Roberts’s lovely husky voice to seep into.”
In 2013, Roberts released “GOOD WINE AND BAD DECISIONS,” on the legendary Sun Records, world-renowned record label home to such icons as Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Roy Orbison. The first new release on Sun in decades, “GOOD WINE AND BAD DECISIONS” is a genuine milestone in the label’s storied history, as well as Roberts’ own incredible artistic and personal journey.
Roberts has not only returned to the road playing shows, she has also taken on the role as inspirational speaker all over the country, sharing her life story which includes how she lives with Multiple Sclerosis.
“I want to inspire others living with MS to never give up on their dreams. I want them to know that they define their lives, not MS,” she says. “I love sharing my story, it's ups and downs, and how my faith, family, and my dreams keep me moving forward. I want God to take me and use me to help others live their best lives. I will do that by continuing to share my testimony, recording new music, and playing shows every night. That’s where my heart and soul are fulfilled.”
Roberts is currently collaborating with producer Shooter Jennings on her fifth full length studio album set for a release later this year. "I have had the most fun working with Shooter on this record. There are lots of musical surprises on this project and Shooter has given me the confidence to step out of my comfort zone during the recording process. I don't remember laughing as much in the studio as I have with Shooter and everyone working on this record! Isn't that what it's supposed to be like when you are doing what you love?! I am so proud of this music and eager to share it with the world!" Roberts shares.
Beyond the music, Roberts is a National Ambassador for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and participates in events to bring awareness and raise funds for those living with MS and also to support MS research. She is also an animal lover and has four dogs that live with her and her mother in Nashville. Julie is a strong supporter for animal rescue.