Thompson Square Interview: Duo Share Details on New Album, Lady A Tour & Sponsored Child
Thompson Square, the husband and wife team of Shawna and Keifer Thompson, just scored an upset win for Vocal Duo of the Year at Sunday’s (April 1) Academy of Country Music Awards. While it was a big win for the couple, who are currently criss-crossing the U.S. as part of Lady Antebellum‘s Own The Night World Tour, the duo were, understandably, pensive as The Boot caught up with them on their bus before a big sold-out show at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Shawna, who recently suffered the loss of her dad, has soldiered on through the tour, joined now by her mom as they help support each other through the loss. But as Thompson Square, Shawna and Keifer are also squarely focused on what they’re doing, especially when it comes to giving back to those in need.
First of all, our deepest condolences on the loss of your father, Shawna. It seems as though fans have really rallied around you in a time of need.
Shawna: Thank you, and yes, they certainly did. When it’s time to go back on stage, you just you put a smile on your face. But I’ll tell you, that first show back was pretty tough.
Keifer: The fans were amazing. The industry, too. Radio stations, promoters, Lady Antebellum — the outreach of affection and genuine concern for Shawna was genuinely enormous.
How are you enjoying the tour so far?
Shawna: It’s awesome! A really good fit. We’d done some shows with Darius (Rucker, who is also on the Lady A tour) before and he was unbelievably welcoming to us. In fact, the very first night he came on to our bus and invited us into his green room … just treated us like family.
Keifer: He’s had the same crew for like 27 years. That says a lot about him. And his crew is great, too — we actually hang out a lot with them because they are some of the most fun people around. They know how to throw down after a show.
Shawna: As for Lady Antebellum, they have been amazing, too … as they always are. They’ve given us free reign of whatever we need, we can use the whole stage. They’re just incredibly accommodating. You cannot say enough about Lady Antebellum.
You’ve both become very involved in helping ChildFund International. Tell us how the organization is actually a big part of your lives now.
Keifer: We formed a partnership with them. We’ve seen those commercial our whole lives, all of us have. You see those horror stories about these poor kids overseas, so we did a lot of research about them and they have an ‘A’ rating. Once we sat down and really looked it over, it made total sense to partner with ChildFund International. They do such important work as far as saving lives.
Shawna: We sponsor a child now. She lives in Indonesia, and her name is Lady. She’s six years old, and her dad makes $370 a year. We’ve talked about meeting her, so hopefully we’ll be going over to see her in person. There’s a three-minute video we play before going on stage. We talk about it on stage, why it’s so important to help — it’s just a dollar a day. We spend a dollar a day on gum. Four dollars a day on a Starbucks! So why not use a little to help these kids?
Keifer: So many kids are dying from a lack of clean water, medicine. As we get older, we see the importance of quality of life, and if we’re able to help someone else’s quality of life, we need to do it. You’re just supposed to do it. At our shows, any fans that sign up with ChildFund get an autographed copy of our album.
Shawna: The last two years we have been so blessed to be together, to do what we love to do. So giving back like this is just common sense.
You both have family connections to the military, and you’re also doing things to help the troops.
Keifer: My dad was in the Army for 10 years or so. Shawna’s dad was a Vietnam War vet. Right there, he was in the thick of all of it. Her cousin is in the service now.
Shawna: My cousin just got back from Afghanistan; he’s been to Iraq twice. So, yeah, it’s in our lives. We’re big supporters of the men and women in the military.
Keifer: We’ve got a yellow ribbon around the tree at home …
Shawna: We’ve probably got to get a new one on there when we get home!
Keifer: Right, it’s now like a white ribbon. [laughs]
Shawna: We’ve done a few shows for the military. We did a USO ball in Colorado Springs, and we’ve got some invitations to go overseas. We plan and doing that later this year or next.
What can you tell us about your upcoming sophomore album?
Keifer: It’s in the birthing stages right now. We’re writing, and we’re recording a lot of demo vocals right here on this very bus. It’s going great. This record will be better than the first one, I can tell you that.
Shawna: There will be a lot more energy. We’re finding out after being on the road for two years, doing these big arena shows, that you’ve got to go out here and rock. People want to come to have a good time and party, so it’s going to be a fun and very upbeat album.
Keifer: At the same time, we learned from all this touring that people like to see an element of intimacy on stage between the two of us. So that’s another thing we want to harness in the second record. So it may be all over the map! [laughs] We’re still writing. The record won’t come out until probably April of next year, so we have a little time! By January, though, I think we’ll have a new single out.
Watch Thompson Square’s Glass Video
Shawna, is there a story behind the beautiful wedding dress in the video for your new single, ‘Glass’?
Shawna: Right before we had to go down to Mobile, Ala., to do a show, we had a meeting with our stylist. I left the meeting a little bit unsure about the dress that had been picked for the video. So, we’re in Mobile, which is just like 50 miles from where I grew up and used to shop. My mom was with me, so we went dress shopping at a bridal shop in Mobile. The first one I tried on was perfect, so that’s the one you see in the video!
Keifer: Shawna has a good sense, fashion-wise, of how she wants to look. She just knew.
Shawna: The dress is now hanging in my closet, next to the dress from the ‘Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not’ video.
Did you buy that one yourself, too?
Shawna: I did! We couldn’t even afford a stylist back then, so I had no choice but to buy it on my own. But that was fine by me. I’m a thrifty shopper — Marshalls, T.J. Maxx, I love those places!
Keifer: We love thrift stores and vintage shops, too.
Finally, the ACMs, another big awards show. Are they important to you?
Keifer: Yes. Look, it could all go away tomorrow. We know that. And it was so hard to get here. So being recognized by your peers and the industry is certainly important to us.