by Shelby Campbell
At only 18-years-old, Melody Williamson has a beautiful, soulful voice that competes with the bluegrass greats. Some even compare her to a young Taylor Swift. Like Taylor, Melody writes many of her own songs. She is just one of the many reasons Williamson Branch is the newest family band to watch.
Williamson Branch is made up of accomplished guitar picker Kevin Williamson, his wife Debbie on mandolin, and their daughters - Melody on fiddle, Kadence on bass, and Caroline on fiddle.
The band is a third-generation bluegrass family. Kevin’s father, Jerry Williamson, was introduced to bluegrass music in the early 1970’s. He formed a few bluegrass bands throughout his career, but many knew him as “one bluegrass, sound man extraordinaire.” Kevin grew up traveling with his dad and passed the tradition down to his own family.
“My parents started performing bluegrass before me and my sisters were born, and as we’ve grown, the band has grown,” Melody said. “We’ve been performing ever since I can remember.”
Williamson Branch, like many other family bands, is rich in tradition and diverse in taste.
Kevin played music professionally for over 35 years and worked with many bluegrass bands throughout his career, including Glenn Duncan & Phoenix and Farm Hands Quartet. He was also a founding member of Redwing and Shadow Ridge. Keith’s most memorable musical experience is singing with the Father of Bluegrass, Bill Monroe, in Nashville in the early 1990s.
Debbie’s rich history in bluegrass is performing for almost 20 years by herself and founding Shadow Ridge with Kevin. She now brings harmony vocals, as well as solid mandolin rhythm, to Williamson Branch.
Naming Alison Krauss and Loretta Lynn as artists who inspire her, Melody is a bluegrass phenomenon, having performed on stage since she was two-years-old. She is proud to share her rare and beautiful voice with anyone who listens. Melody’s original song There’s No Country Here enjoyed over half-a-million views online and climbed to number 15 on the independent country radio charts.
“I was expecting a little girl’s voice, but when Melody started singing, I thought I was hearing a young Alison Krauss or Rhonda Vincent,” said Jeanie C. Riley, country artist.
Kadence, however, may become the instrumental star of the family. She is a wonderful bass player and provides the perfect punch to the band’s sound. Kadence, a champion clog dancer, plays the fiddle, too.
Eight-year-old Caroline, youngest member of Williamson Branch, already plays the fiddle and has been singing harmony since she was three. She has a list of instruments she wants to learn to play, but right now she’s stealing the show with her sassy version of Loretta Lynn’s You Ain’t Woman Enough.
“What a precious, talented family!” said Kimberly East Williams of East Public Relations. “The harmonies, musicianship and stage presence are top notch.”
Williamson Branch tends to play music that is mostly bluegrass, sometimes country and gospel, but always fresh, exciting and touches the soul. Some writers compare Williamson Branch to the Carter Family, and there’s no better compliment than that. The band has been featured on WSM’s Pickin’ on the Plaza at the Ryman Auditorium, The Old Dominion Barn Dance, Song of the Mountains on PBS, and more.
Although this family is honored to play at wonderful venues and events, the most unique part of this group is their ability to write original songs, thereby carrying on the proud tradition passed down from Jerry.
“We are always busy writing new things, and this season promises to add even more original materials to our performances,” said Melody.
The younger Williamson Branch members enjoy being a part of Tomorrow’s Bluegrass Stars, a group that supports and promotes young bluegrass.
“Our kids were drawn to TBS because of the heart of Mr. John Colburn,” Debbie said of the Chief Encouragement and Excitement Officer of TBS. “He supports these kids with everything he has and more. Mr. John has been a huge blessing to our family, always giving encouraging words, sharing our videos, and coming to our shows.”
Williamson Branch’s second album, Branchin’ Out, showcases the strong family harmony and Melody’s powerful lead vocals. They are on their first Canadian tour and will record their first project with an independent bluegrass label this Fall.
Download Williamson Branch’s album or learn more about the family band at https://williamsonbranch.com/.