June 12, 2008
By David Huff
Cowboy Crush - Country Fever 2008 - Jun. 12-15
Rowdier Side of Life
They are, to put it simply, one of the great modern day sagas of country music.
With one tail-shaking show after another, Cowboy Crush has steadily built for itself a devoted following that not only stretches across the United States, but reaches at least a half dozen countries around the world. Their soul-stirring music start heart’s pumping with a life affirming, fist in the air celebration. Whether their songs address the struggles of a single mom in “Tougher than a Man”, or the rowdier side of life with “Hillbilly Nation”, Trenna Barnes, Debbie Johnson and Renae Truex deliver their message with foot-stompin’ passion and authority.
And yes, their audience definitely feels it too. Cowboy Crush literally become a part of their fans lives when they perform on stage. With Trenna on vocals, Debbie on bass and Renae on fiddle, the group feeds off the energy of the audience song after song. The music the group writes often seems torn from the pages of their fan’s daily lives. That intentional connection with the crowd, the girls readily admit, has created a close-knit camaraderie with their audience allowing the trio to build a solid musical foundation.
Barnes, Johnson and Truex bring a unique combination of skills to the table. Trenna’s controlled vocal skills deliver each song with emotion and power. The tunes are brilliantly offset by the controlled harmonies of the multi-instrumental talents of Johnson and Truex.
“There’s a real sisterhood between us,” revealed Barnes, “that allows us to feed off each other musically. Knowing each other as well as we do, gives us the opportunity to explore different avenues with our music, and take our songs in various directions. There’s an unspoken trust we have between us you not only hear in the music we write, but you definitely see when we perform on stage.”
The ‘unspoken trust’ Barnes refers to is universally felt by the Cowboy Crush fan. The group often marvels at the extent their supporters go to in their efforts to support the band. On one hand, there are the heartfelt messages left for girls on their MySpace web site. That is offset by the sometimes hilarious postings of pictures of fans wearing Cowboy Crush shirts all over the world. Trenna, Debbie and Renae readily acknowledge they have adopted an eclectic, global family. As Johnson often says, the group has the coolest fans.
At its core, Cowboy Crush is the story of three young women who were determined to make a mark for themselves in music. Growing up in Tulsa, Springfield, Missouri and the booming metropolis of Moundsville, West Virginia, destiny seemed to follow the three where music was concerned. Barnes turned to singing as a way to aggravate her older brothers so they’d go running to mom. As always, mother knows best, and sided with her daughter. This unwavering belief in her child’s gift of song spurred Trenna to develop her voice. Johnson and Truex were born into musical families. Debbie and Renae weren’t pushed into the business, but subtle encouragement from within allowed them both to eventually find their own instrumental voices.
Barnes attended Belmont University in Nashville on a vocal scholarship. That is where she met Debbie Johnson, who was studying bass at the prestigious music school that also boasts Trisha Yearwood, Brad Paisley and Josh Turner as alums. While Trenna was earning money singing demos, commercial jingles and fronting various bands around town, Debbie and Renae became fast friends when they met one day to back up an aspiring singer.
“Once I heard Renae play,” confided Johnson, “my next move was to immediately call Trenna. I had found my calling, our calling, and it has turned out exactly the way I thought it would.”
-Record Label: Curb/Asylum Records
Trenna - Lead Vocals
Renae - Fiddle, Mandolin
Debbie - Vocals, Bass