If you’re a fan of “The Hunger Games” or Taylor Swift, you’ve likely already heard of the country music group the [artist id="3217471"]Civil Wars[/artist]. This year’s Grammy winners for Best Country Duo/Group Performance and Best Folk Album collaborated with Swift on the first “Hunger Games” single, “Safe & Sound.” The duo acted as the opening act for Swift as they performed their hit “Barton Hollow.”
So who exactly are the Civil Wars? Even though they’re making their mainstream breakout now, the band actually came out of Nashville in 2008. Members Joy Williams and John Paul White reportedly met during a “professional blind date” songwriting session at a music studio that year and immediately hit it off.
Before releasing an album or EP, the Civil Wars recorded their performance at Georgia’s music club Eddie’s Attic in 2009 — their second time performing together live — and made it available for free download on the Internet. The set included eight original songs and a cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Dance Me to the End of Love.”
But it wasn’t until later that year that the band started to surface in the public awareness. In November 2009, White and Williams released a digital extended play album called “Poison & Wine.” The title track was featured on “Grey’s Anatomy,” the ABC medical drama that helped further the careers of other folksy artists like Ingrid Michaelson and The Fray.
It was then that they caught the attention of Swift. According to the Civil Wars’ website, Swift tweeted her love of the country duo and included “Poison & Wine” on her official iTunes playlist. “I think this is my favorite duet. It’s exquisite,” she said of the song.
Fast forward to 2011. The Civil Wars released their first studio album, Barton Hollow, in February, and it reached #12 on the Billboard albums 2011 chart. It certainly helped that the band was also the opening act for Adele’s 2011 North American tour. Later in the year, Williams and White rejoined the Grammy winner on her UK tour and were introduced to the British music scene.
The duo — who are only a couple professionally — have a lot to thank Swift for, especially for their collaboration on “Safe & Sound.” Swift will be participating in an MTV First on Monday at 7:54 p.m., when she will debut the music video for the song, and also participate in an exclusive chat with MTV News. Fans can submit their questions for Swift via Twitter @MTVNews with the hashtags #AskTaylor or #MTVFirst.
“It was [perfect], strangely enough,” Williams told MTV News of collaborating with Swift and composer T-Bone Burnett. “John Paul and I write all of our own music, so it’s not as common anymore for us to be collaborating with other people. But, T-Bone and Taylor Swift: It was just natural.”
The “Hunger Games” soundtrack, which also features Arcade Fire and the Decemberists, drops March 20. The movie hits theaters days later, on March 23.
Don’t miss the premiere of Taylor Swift’s “Safe & Sound” video during “MTV First: Taylor Swift” on Monday at 7:54 p.m. ET on MTV, followed by an exclusive chat with Swift about her “Hunger Games” clip on MTV.com.