Keith Burns and Michelle Poe Form New Duo
“We met at the perfect time in our lives to do this,” Burns tells Boot. “We are a true duo. We split the vocals right down the middle. We structure ourselves more like Sonny and Cher, or Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton, or Conway [Twitty] and Loretta [Lynn].”
That partnership extends to songwriting, as well. Burns co-wrote every song on their upcoming album, with Poe credited on half the tracks. They say their own personal imprint made it easier for them to create songs that match their unique sound.
“It’s not about picking out songs and going, ‘That’s a hit. Let’s cut this.’ Because it might not fit us. That’s why we’ve written everything. We tailor our songwriting around it being a true duo and a true duet,” Poe explains.
For Poe, it was a long and winding road that led to the new partnership. She initially met Burns when he was struggling to keep Trick Pony alive, after the departure of lead singer Heidi Newfield.
“Trick Pony was looking for a new singer after Heidi left, and I had worked with James Stroud before at Dreamworks, when I had a solo deal for a minute,” Poe recalls. “James heard that they were looking for a lead singer, and he recommended me. I came in, auditioned, and got the gig. The second I got the gig, the next day Ira [Dean] decided he wants to leave … But now it’s been a blessing in disguise because we just kept writing together and brought our songs to our manager, and he said, ‘You’re an act yourself!’”
Burns spent more than ten years with Newfield and Dean in Trick Pony and insists he feels no animosity towards them for leaving the band. Newfield has proven quite successful in her solo efforts, scoring five ACM nominations this year.
“Any success that Heidi or Ira have is a direct reflection on Trick Pony. It’s a direct reflection on what we brought to country music. I’m proud for Heidi, and the same with Ira when he writes a song for another act. Hopefully they feel the same about me.”
Burns admits, however, that the path to this new chapter in his career wasn’t all smooth sailing. Asked if he keeps in touch with Heidi or Ira, he explains, “We were together for a decade, and splitting up from something like that is kind of like a marriage. We still get along, but there’s no urge … they’re kind of doing their thing, and I’m doing mine, and when we see each other, it’s cordial.”
Burns and Poe’s first single is ‘This Ain’t Your Every Day Whiskey.’ It was released to country radio last week via Country Thunder Records.