Up and coming country music group Eden’s Edge is making a tour stop at the Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts on Friday, Jan. 25. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. and tickets start at $12 each.
When it comes to making great music, kindred spirits somehow seem to find each other and such is the case with Eden’s Edge. Three talented young musicians from Arkansas — Hannah Blaylock, Dean Berner, and Cherrill Green who make up Eden’s Edge — made their debut on Big Machine Records with a sound that honors country music’s roots while creatively pushing the envelope with their seasoned musicianship, dazzling harmonies and insightful songwriting.
The trio has forged a unique sound shaped by their individual influences and anchored in their own distinctive gifts. Each grew up in rural Arkansas where farming, faith and family provided a firm foundation and offered a springboard for their musical aspirations.
“I had grown up singing in church and school talent shows,” says lead vocalist Hannah. “I’d always known that I wanted to be a singer ... that was my true passion.”
By the time she was in her teens, Hannah was singing in a band with her family and Steve Smith, a local financial planner with a penchant for writing songs. It was Smith who recruited Dean to join the group.
“He taught me my first chords on guitar and he was also my soccer coach when I was seven,” says Dean, who plays guitar, dobro and contributes harmony vocals.
Dean and Cherrill had played music together a few times during their college days, and a month after Dean joined Hannah’s group, they recruited Cherrill. “We needed another mandolin player and singer so we found Cherrill,” says Hannah. “She is just amazing. She’s this incredible instrumentalist and she could follow me like crazy with harmonies because she’d grown up her whole life singing in a family bluegrass band.”
Cherrill recalls listening to some classic country and a little Beatles growing up, but her world was dominated by bluegrass.
“We played a lot of festivals. At bluegrass festivals you just play all the time. We’d jam till really late at night and we were constantly around so many good musicians. When you are at those things, especially as a kid, musicians want to show you stuff so you are constantly learning. It’s basically like taking lessons from professionals all the time,” says Cherrill, who sings and plays mandolin, banjo and guitar.
Steadily gaining in popularity, the newly formed Eden’s Edge toured extensively around the region, winning area talent competitions. An entry in the 2006 CMT/NSAI Songwriter’s contest caught the attention of Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member Kye Fleming, known for penning such classic hits as Barbara Mandrell’s “I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool,” Sylvia’s “Nobody,” Ronnie Milsap’s “Smoky Mountain Rain.”
“Kye contacted us and found out that we were 40 miles down the road from where she grew up in Fort Smith,” Hannah says of their Arkansas connection. She encouraged the young trio to move to Nashville. They made the leap in 2007 and began working with Fleming to hone their unique sound.
Fleming was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame last year, and as luck would have it, Eden’s Edge was asked to perform a medley of her hits at the induction ceremony. Toby Keith, Taylor Swift and the late Tammy Wynnette were among the other honorees during the gala and the room was filled with Music City’s most influential in the industry.
“That night we got a record deal offer from Big Machine,” says Hannah.
Working with producer Mark Bright (Carrie Underwood, Rascal Flatts) the trio crafted a stellar debut that showcases their strengths as musicians as well as their compelling vocal blend. Their first single, “Amen,” was released in April 2011 and quickly became the first Top 20 hit for the group.
“The cool thing about the three of us is Cherrill has a classic country along with bluegrass background. Dean has the rock, blues and country background and then I have more the folk/americana/country background,” Hannah says. “We’ve all kind of taken our favorite sounds from every genre and just kind of come up with our own formula.”
Music has taken the young members of Eden’s Edge on an intriguing journey and they are thankful for the ride. “We’ve really grown up together and we’ve moved here and created a life together and I think that kind of history is organic,” says Dean. “We came together naturally, just for the purpose of having fun and playing music. That’s part our chemistry, we’re all doing something that we love together.”
Cherrill and Hannah agree. “We’ve grown together and changed together,” says Cherrill while Hannah adds, “We’ve found or have written music that moves us and inspires us. We just trust that the music will speak for itself. You do what you do and hope people will love it and can connect with it because our first love — as much as we love playing and writing music — our first love is inspiring others through music.”
To purchase tickets to any performance at the Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts, to get more information, or to see a schedule of coming events, go to www.GreatMountainMusic.com or call 866.273.4615.