Hank, Liz and Lynn of Belle Vici make perfect harmony in both life and music. This trio of innovative singer/songwriter/musicians found their unique niche in the music world and are churning out inspired and soulful creations that make my ears smile. They are more than a group, they are a family, comprised of twin sisters and a close friend. And together, they conquer life. Belle Vici soaks up every beautiful moment to bring you their charming blend of country, soul, folk, blues music that they call Americana.
What are your names and your group's name? What is the story behind the name?
When the three of us (Hank, Liz and Lynn) were trying to decide on a name for ourselves, we wanted it to be a name that meant something. It had to really express the love we had for each other and the love we had for our music. "Belle" means "beautiful". The love and friendship we have for one another is beautiful. The gifts that God blessed us with come together and help us to create music that, to us, is beautiful. "Vici" comes from Caesars quote, "vini, vidi, vici"..."I came, I saw, I conquered." We have each had to conquer our own personal battles in life to bring us to this point in our lives...to play...to make the music that we make...to sing...to live! For us, Belle Vici means....."Beautiful Conquerers".
Describe your music style to our readers.
We often get asked what is our music style and we always err on the side of caution and say Americana. But the listener may hear the influences of Mark Knopfler or Doc Watson coming through the guitar licks of Hank Barbee. They may even find themselves transported to a sultry, summer night by the unexpected notes of a blues song. Belle Vici is music that touches the heart of right now. Life. Divorce. Love. Laughter. Broken Hearts. Passion. The beautiful thing about this album is there is a little bit of something there for everyone. Three unique people. Three unique perspectives. Somehow we make it work!
Share a bit about your musical backgrounds.
Hank Barbee, by far the most instrumentally talented of the three of us, can play anything with strings. His first and primary instrument since age 11 is and acoustic. When playing finger-style on an acoustic, he possesses an ability to define melody and rhythm simultaneously. On Dobro, he evokes an almost voice-like conveyance of emotion; and on electric, with a light touch, his tone can range from funky and growling to soaring and intense. Add to his family of stringed instruments his 1957 Gibson double-neck steel guitar, 6-string lap steel, resonator guitar and mandolin. He performs styles on these old instruments ranging from primitive country and gospel to rock, blues and roots music. Over the years, Hank has performed in garages, recitals, music theatre, churches, clubs, porches, bars, basement, attics, stadium, ballgames, political agendas, radio, weddings, television and for fun in probably every venue you can think of, good or bad, in a lot of cities in the USA.
Lynn and I attribute our love of singing to our mother Carol and our Aunt Nancy. What we remember the most about our mother, who we call “Mama”, when we were growing up, was that she knew every song on the radio and she was always singing. We can still hear her belting out the lyrics to “Satin Sheets”. Saturday mornings were supposed to be cleaning day. For mama it was also an opportunity to put on the Bee Gees record with John Travolta in that now famous pose. We still remember the steps to the dance she taught us while we all sang “Stayin’ Alive” along with the record. Our Aunt Nancy played an accordion and sang beautifully. She taught us girls songs whenever we stayed with her and Uncle Darrell. Of course, we would then sing for them and Aunt Nancy just loved it and was so proud of us!! She unknowingly planted a seed in the us and our love of performing has never wavered. Me and Lynn have performed together in churches, at community events, for charities, front porches, impromptu kitchen ensembles (our favorite), and anywhere the music will take us.
In June 2009, we were at a friend’s rehearsing when we met Hank Barbee. He had recently moved back to his hometown of Richlands, North Carolina from Atlanta, Georgia. We had an instant connection. He loved our harmony and we loved how he played that guitar! The rest...as they say...is history!
What is your song writing process? Where do you find inspiration?
We each have our own writing style. Hank writes a lot. He is a diligent writer, always working on his music. Lynn does most of her songwriting while she's driving. This poses a hazard for other drivers I'm sure. I do almost all of my writing while I'm in the shower. I keep a book in my bathroom to write lyrics. Hank and I both write songs through text messaging each other as well. We toss things back and forth to each other and before we know it we've written a song. Our songwriting processes are non-traditional to say the least. We do get together and collaborate on projects that we are working on and new material. We are always writing. We are always making music. Inspiration often comes from life. Life is all around us and its happening. Sometimes its happening to us. Sometimes its happening to someone else. Sometimes its just happening. Opening yourself up to experience it and not be afraid to write a song about it is a way of immortalizing a moment. The same way a photographer captures life with his camera, we capture life with music and words. For each of us, it can be as complicated as something we may be experiencing at a time in our life. It can also be as simple as a word, a look on someone's face, a man riding a bicycle. Like life, the possibilities are endless.
As a group, what are your fondest musical memories?
Our fondest musical memories are recording our album at Absolute Recording Studio with Aaron Thompson in Atlanta, Georgia. He is truly the best at what he does. He pulled abilities out of us that we didn't know we could do. This was not Hank's first time in the studio but it was definitely me and Lynn's. We were like two babies. Whatever Hank and Aaron told us to do, we did it. Being in the studio for the first time was an amazing experience. Hank loved opening that world to us and being there while we experienced it for the first time. For him, it was like getting to experience it for the first time once again.
Do you prefer the creation process or performing in front of an audience and why?
The creative process is as necessary as performing. To choose a preference between the two is impossible simply because of what we draw from each. The creative process allows us to explore and expand that side of ourselves. There is a joy in creating something that is yours. The creative process is an avenue that allows us to do what we love and leave our mark behind. It is a blessing to be given the opportunity to perform what we have created. To finally hear the melding of voices and instruments, to feel the energy of the music and be able to convey that to a small number of people or a crowd of people is a joyous success. We want people to walk away still carrying the lingering emotions from what they have just experienced. We want our music to leave its mark.
What are 3 things many people don't know about you?
Lynn and I are twins. We look just alike. At every performance we have, someone always has a bet going on whether or not we are twins or just sisters. It really cracks us up. We will see them from the stage looking at us and pointing. Sometimes we even see the money being laid on the table. At some point during the gig we'll let them know that, "Yes! We are twins!" We'll see the money exchange hands. So funny.
Hank takes care of Lynn and I in very unusual and endearing ways. Whenever we go anywhere Hank takes my bank card and keeps it with him because I am so bad at losing it and he refuses to go searching in my purse after he nearly got lost in there the last time. He also knows us so well that whenever we go somewhere to eat, he orders for us. He even ordered for my mom without even thinking about it when we went to Atlanta the first time. Lynn and I nearly died laughing. He got up to go to the bathroom and our mom looked at us and said, "Now how does he know I'm even gonna like some pecan crusted trout!?!" But she did and let him order for her the rest of the trip!
We only met four years ago. It was an instant connection and bond that formed between the three of us. We have a special friendship. Being twins and sharing a bond that is unique, it is often difficult for someone to find their place. But Hank found his place. He feels like he has known us all his life and we feel the same about him.
What are Belle Vici's goals for the upcoming year?
Our goals for the upcoming year include recording our first full length gospel album. We get invited to perform at churches often. Gospel music has always been a solid foundation in each of our lives and we love receiving an invitation to perform. We will continue to write and produce for Eleven O'Clock Records to promote Independent Artists and their music. We have an extraordinary amount of pride and hard work poured into our label. Aside from being a gifted and talented songwriter and musician, Hank Barbee is an extremely talented producer. His goals for the upcoming year are to continue writing and producing albums for Belle Vici and other artists as well.
Connect With Them
by MRH, CMO