The Couldn’t Be Happiers are a folk-country-rock duo out of Winston-Salem. HuffPost entertainment writer Lisa Lynn Snedeker recently listed their debut EP as one of her “[f]avorite musical picks of 2017,” earlier calling them a “promising musical act” reminiscent “of all the best things about classic country music.”
Burke County, North Carolina native Jodi Hildebran (vocals, drums, harmonica, and guitar) and former Texan Jordan Crosby Lee (vocals and guitar) formed the Couldn’t Be Happiers in July of 2017. The soon-to-be married couple has what fans call “a contagious energy” born of audience interaction and on-stage (mostly) playful bickering with one another.
The duo performs an eclectic and energetic set of covers (Loretta Lynn, Johnny Cash, Taylor Swift, CCR, Shovels and Rope, and too many more to list), but they consider themselves songwriters first. Individually, they have written songs covering classic themes like “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” (“Sweeter”) to lesser plowed fields like the not-so-romantic life of a Bigfoot hunter (“Gone Squatchin'”). But they’re at their best when they write together. Duets like “Let’s Not Bury the Obvious” and “Baggage” can be found on their debut EP The Happiest streaming now on Spotify.
In this interview spotlight, I chat with Couldn’t Be Happiers about the latest projects, motivations, challenges and more.
Full Q&A along with links and music below.
Where are you from and what style of music do you create? (In your own words, not necessarily in marketing terms or by popular genre classifications.)
I (Jordan) am from South Texas. Jodi is from the foothills of North Carolina. I think our style is representative of the music we like respectively. I always loved the outlaw country and alt-country movement out of Texas. Jodi likes pop, a little country out of Nashville, and indie guy/girl folk duos with pretty harmonies. You can hear those influences in our music. Nothing we do is forced. We write together, and if it sounds good to both of us then we keep it. We don’t have a goal to sound like anyone else. We just want to sound like us.
What led you down this path of music and what motivates you to keep going?
Well, regarding Jodi, that’s a lot like asking a 7’3” NBA center what led him down the path of basketball. His height kind of made that decision for him. Same thing with Jodi’s voice. Its strength and its clarity demand she use it. Of course, she’ll say I’m biased, which is true, but that doesn’t mean I’m wrong. She’s been impressing audiences since she was a little girl when she’d perform Disney songs for the patrons of her mama’s hair salon there in Burke County. She also sang in high school chorus, and, of course, in the Baptist church.
I have no such musical talent, but I did read an article in high school that Jimmy Buffett learned three chords in college to woo women. So I gave it a shot. I was attracted to writing lyric driven songs, so musicality was almost an afterthought. Knowing three chords was enough to get me going.
We both wrote, played, and performed (separately) a bit in college, but no one took us too seriously. We went on to graduate school, and music was relegated to a hobby. In 2013, Jodi and I met at an old time musical gathering in Winston-Salem, hosted by mutual friends. We played at these monthly gatherings and sometimes the group would perform for philanthropic causes. But otherwise, we didn’t do much. I mean, we wrote songs, but they were never for mass consumption. It wasn’t until 2017, the year Jodi and I fell in love, that we decided to go after this thing. She inspires me, and I hope I inspire her. Mainly I feel a constant drive to keep impressing her.
I was always a raw singer-songwriter, focused on lyrics to the detriment of everything else. Jodi, an amazing songwriter as well, brought the music to life by breathing…well, by breathing music into the music…if that makes any sense.
How is this new release different than previous ones? Were you trying to accomplish anything specific?
The Happiest is our first release as a duo. We are a performance driven band. We’re not spending a lot of time in the studio just yet. So we wanted to capture our sound and provide a snapshot of us in under 10 minutes, in order to give listeners an idea of what they’re going to hear when they come to see us live.
Name one or two challenges you face as an indie musician in this oversaturated, digital music age? How has technology helped you (since we know it does help)?
Time and money. Promoting, marketing, booking, and networking are time consuming endeavors. I could easily spend eight hours a day doing just that. But that doesn’t leave much room to improve our craft and write new stuff. Plus, money is always a factor. Studio time is expensive, and if we want to improve as a duo and write more songs, we don’t have the time to train as a Garage Band sound engineer.
Still, social media makes networking, booking, and marketing so much quicker. And Garage Band works well enough for us to use for submitting to songwriting competitions and festivals. So, although technology is time consuming, it makes being an independent musician possible.
Where is the best place to connect with you online and discover more music?
Anything else before we sign off?
Yes. Thanks for supporting independent music! I hope we’ve made you and your readers just a bit happier.