Hearts of Kin are an emerging east coast country band fronted by sisters Danielle MacDonald and Shellie Tobin. In their relatively short career, the singer/songwriters have been capturing audiences with their fresh brand of timeless folk and country, soulfully delivered with sweet sibling harmonies. Drawing from their own personal experiences and their homegrown roots, the sisters' storytelling style of songwriting was heavily influenced by the late great John Prine.
Their debut EP "Homegrown" was recorded and produced by LJL Studios and was released in January of 2022. All tracks feature Danielle and Shellie on acoustic guitar and vocals along with a myriad of organic instrument tracking played by Lawrence Lelievre and David Burke (both of LJL Studios), and Ian MacIntyre (drums).
Recently reunited in their Cape Breton hometown, the duo has wasted no time establishing the band as an up and coming presence on the east coast music scene.
The sisters are continually writing original music, and look forward to future recording projects. Stay tuned!
Like the rest of the world, Danielle MacDonald and Shellie Tobin had no idea that a global pandemic was looming when they decided to officially put themselves out there as a sister band after years of singing and playing together in Cape Breton kitchen parties. To say the duo had a rough start to their music career would be an understatement.
Their biggest challenge starting out in 2019 was the fact that the bandmates lived in two different provinces. With Danielle still in rural
PEI, and Shellie back home in Cape Breton, virtual jams were the only option for the girls, long before they were popularized by the pandemic. Live shows were few and far between back then, always strategically planned weeks or months in advance around Danielle's quick weekend trips home. Hardly ideal conditions to launch a music career. But the duo was determined, neither doubting their decision to form the band. "We just wanted to play music together", says Tobin, "and we'd take it any way we could get it".
Fresh, Folky and Homegrown, Sister Band Hearts of Kin Emerge from Pandemic -
Together at Last
But things quickly went from bad to worse when the pandemic brought the entertainment industry to a screeching halt and on again/off again travel restrictions kept the sisters apart for months at a time. With live shows off the table, the girls were forced into a "covid pivot" as they call it, but it didn't take them long to find a silver lining. The girls embraced the solitude of the lockdowns to let their creative juices flow. For the first time in their collective lives, the busy wives and mothers finally had time to focus on songwriting. The "covid pivot" proved to be the cornerstone of their music career.
The duo co-wrote a 5 song EP during the first lockdown of 2020 and they didn't waste any time pursuing a studio to produce it. They approached LJL Studios in Cape Breton with their new music and they never looked back. Neither had any idea how much it would cost, how long it would take to produce, or how much work was involved. But none of that mattered. "We both believed in our music" said Tobin, "we were excited, we knew it was good music and it deserved to be produced. It was just something we both knew we had to do".
The next year was a whirlwind of activity for the sisters as they tackled making the transition from cover band to recording artists. Danielle had previously recorded a handful of demos, but Shellie had never set foot in a recording studio. The learning curve was a steep one, but with the support of Lawrence Lelievre and David Burke at LJL Studios, the girls quickly proved that they were up for the challenge. And what a challenge it was - interprovincial travel restrictions and covid lockdowns forced the project to drag on months longer than expected. At one point while they were waiting out the revival of the Atlantic Bubble, Shellie was forced to return to the studio without her counterpart to finalize some vocal harmonies so the project could proceed. But the team's hard work and patience would pay off as restrictions slowly started to ease and Danielle was able to start travelling back to Cape Breton.
The acoustic duo were fascinated by the magic of the studio. They were no longer limited to two part harmonies and two guitars. They watched each song slowly evolve with beautiful full harmonies nestled perfectly in an extravaganza of organic instruments. They were hooked. Songwriting and producing original music was now their primary focus. Their studio experience had only enhanced their songwriting skills and motivated them to keep writing.
But the biggest breakthrough for Hearts of Kin came in the spring of 2021 when Danielle and her husband made the decision to move back home to Cape Breton after years of living abroad. "Moving back home was always a goal of ours", says MacDonald, "but the timing was never right I guess. So we decided to take matters into our own hands and take a leap of faith. We sold our house, packed up our family and headed for the Canso Causeway, and we never looked back. It was the best decision we ever made."
Recently reunited in their Cape Breton hometown, the duo has wasted no time establishing the band as an up and coming presence on the east coast music scene. They continue to capture audiences with their fresh brand of folk and country, soulfully delivered with sweet sibling harmonies. Their debut EP "Homegrown" was recorded and produced fully by LJL Studios, Coxheath, NS, and is expected to be released late 2021. The first single "Throw Away World" was released on September 3rd and is available on all major streaming platforms.
Hearts of Kin are currently touring locally while finalizing their debut EP. The sisters are continually writing new music and they have immediate plans to return to the studio upon the release of their EP for ongoing recording projects.
All this.......thanks to a "covid pivot".