Thompson Square sings it like it is

By Josette Keelor

Husband and wife duo Keifer and Shawna Thompson, of Thompson Square, plan to keep it real at their Wednesday performance at the Shenandoah County Fair. That kind of attitude fueled their record sales and won them their second consecutive American County Music award in April for Vocal Duo of the Year.

“Write from within, and it’s just kind of what we’ve tried to do,” Thompson said in a phone interview from Michigan this week, where he and his wife planned to perform before heading to New York the following day.

Shawna agreed: “When you’re real, people recognize that.”

The Country Music Awards recognized it by making Thompson Square the first-ever married couple to win the Country Music Awards’ vocal duo of the year, and publisher Howard Books, a division of Simon & Schuster Inc., recognized it by setting them along a road to authorship.

Since the couple married 14 years ago, they have based their song lyrics on their lives, singing about each other and their relationship.

“Without doing that, you’re not going to sell anybody on the message you’re trying to write,” he said. “You just keep writing.”

There’s no use ignoring it, he said. “The monkey’s always there, Just there in the closet.”

Thompson doesn’t see the challenge in expressing their life through song. “I guess the challenge is just making it great,” he said. “The one thing that’s really difficult is agreeing between me and Shawna.”

But he said the most honest song they’ve ever written is ‘What Am I Gonna Do?” about his wife’s father dying.

“We cried our way through it and ended up with a really great song,” he said.

He’s from Oklahoma, but now they live in her home state of Alabama to be close to family.

“When you lose someone like that,” she said, “you realize what’s important.”

Eight or nine years ago they officially took the name Thompson Square, which she said started as Thompson Squared — as in multiplying their talents toward their common musical goals.

“But nobody could ever hear the ‘d,'” she said. So they dropped it.

They’ve built a career on nonfiction, so it might seem strange that they recently co-wrote a novel with writer Travis Thrasher, based on their hit song “Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not?” The novel of the same title, it’s “just a sweet little love story,” Mrs. Thompson said.

“They wanted it to be a story about us, about our life,” she said. But the couple thought it was too early in their careers to write their memoirs.

At Wednesday’s performance they plan to perform songs from their second album, “Just Feels Good,” which features the song “If I Didn’t Have You,” their latest No. 1 hit.

It ranks up there in Thompson’s opinion too, and he said to expect others like it on Wednesday.

“I like all the best ones,” he said. “I like the number ones, those are my favorites.”

Thompson Square will perform at the Shenandoah County Fair, at the fairgrounds in Woodstock, at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. Tickets are $40 for track and premium grandstand seating and $35 for grandstand seating. For more information, call 540-459-7300.

Contact Community Engagement Editor Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137, ext. 176, or jkeelor@nvdaily.com