Artist: Della Mae
Hometown: The United States
Latest Album: Family Reunion
Nicknames: Celia = Squawkbox; Kimber= Fiddler, Kimby, Auntie, Nimmers (Grammy only); Vickie = VV, Double V, Wickie
Rejected Band Names: Big Spike Hammer
What’s your favorite memory from being on stage?
Thanks to my good friend and mentor Rickie Simpkins, I played a show on electric guitar with Emmylou Harris a few years ago. My favorite memory from the gig was actually the soundcheck and rehearsal. It was a really special thing to get to experience how an artist I deeply admire prepares for a performance and then get to be part of how it all came together. — Avril Smith
In 2012, we had the opportunity to go on a six-week tour of South and Central Asia with the State Department. The first show we played was in Islamabad, Pakistan at a women’s college. It was the most incredible energy we’ve ever felt in a room. They’d never heard bluegrass before and erupted in cheers and Beatles-worthy shrieks when we hit the first three-part harmony chorus. — Kimber Ludiker
What’s the toughest time you ever had writing a song?
“The Way It Was Before” took Mark Erelli and I six hours to write (three Zoom sessions). Half of that time was spent talking, looking up stories, getting really emotional about the state of the world. We wanted to make sure that every word counted, so we took our time and tried to honor each of the characters (who are actual people). The pandemic isn’t even behind us, and yet I keep hearing people say that they can’t wait to get back to “the old days.” There’s so much about “the old days” that needs changing. After everything we’ve been through in the last 18 months, I found that writing a song like this felt impossibly huge. I may not have finished it if it hadn’t been for Mark. — Celia Woodsmith
Which artist has influenced you the most…and how?
Missy Raines has influenced me the most. For obvious reasons, but let me explain: I was 14 years old watching Don Rigsby and Josh Williams play at my hometown venue, the Kentucky Opry. I saw her up on stage playing upright with them, so cool and beautiful and a master of her instrument. She was hanging with the boys and giving them all a run for their money. Then and there I decided that I wanted to do that for the rest of my days. When it comes to harmony singing, however? One hundred percent Diamond Rio. — Vickie Vaughn
If you had to write a mission statement for your career, what would it be?
We actually do have a mission statement as a band — to showcase top female musicians, and to improve opportunities for women and girls through advocacy, mentorship, programming, and performance. Our hope is that our music inspires more women and girls to pick up an instrument and use their voices to create art and work together to affect the kind of change they want to see in our world. — Avril Smith
What was the first moment that you knew you wanted to be a musician?
FROM BIRTH. 😉 I’m a fifth-generation fiddler. I could play my first tunes at age 3. My earliest memories are playing fiddle tunes with my grandpa and brother. However, it wasn’t until my last year of college that I decided to make it my life. I saw how people struggled as musicians, and honestly, my brother was a bit of a child prodigy and I didn’t think I was good enough for a long time. I began to realize that everyone has their individual skills and talents, and I had something to contribute. — Kimber Ludiker
Photo credit: Kimber Ludiker