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The Civil Wars Officially Break Up

It wasn’t difficult to see this one coming, but it’s saddening nonetheless.

After coming off the road suddenly in late 2012 (and being on indefinite hiatus since), country/folk duo The Civil Wars (née Joy Williams and John Paul White) have officially called it quits, according to an official statement released Tuesday. In tandem with the statement, the pair have released a cover of “You Are My Sunshine” as a final farewell, currently available as a free download on their website.

The statement included quotes from both band mates expressing gratitude to the fans for their support. I am saddened and disappointed by the ending of this duo, to say the very least,” says Joy Williams. “JP is a tremendous musician, and I will always be grateful for the music we were able to create together. I sincerely hope that ‘You Are My Sunshine’ will be accepted as a token of my gratitude for every single person that has supported our duo throughout the years. I’m so thankful and my heart is full.”

John Paul White had this to say: I would like to express sincere thanks to all who were a part of the arc of The Civil Wars—from the beginning, to the end, and all points in between. My deep appreciation goes out to all who supported, disseminated, and enjoyed the music. Whatever shape or form the next chapter takes, thanks for being a large part of this one.”

During their short run, The Civil Wars managed to rack up four Grammy awards, winning over audience and critics alike with their mournful harmonies and raw, folky sound.  Their second (and final) album The Civil Wars, recorded right about the time things began to fall apart for the pair, dropped one year ago today, and bowed at Number 1 on the Billboard 200 despite the fact that the duo were not touring and were not even on speaking terms.

The specifics regarding Williams’ and White’s falling out have remained a well-kept secret, the only given explanation for their hiatus being “internal discord and irreconcilable differences of ambition.” Since then, Williams has been the most vocal of the pair, expressing an interest in working things out during several interviews, while White has kept mostly to himself.

And so, in a manner of speaking, the Civil War era has come to an end once again. It’s unfortunate for the band (and the fans) that the duo’s namesake became a self-fulfilling prophecy, but their music has already had a profound influence on the genre, and will no doubt continue to do so for many years to come.

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About the Author


Music blogger Rob Burkhardt has been a fan of country music since he was a child, cutting his teeth on the sounds of Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Reba McIntyre and George Jones. In the words of the now-legendary Barbara Mandrell song, he was "country when country wasn't cool." Nowadays, Rob is both intrigued and excited about the mainstream crossover appeal of modern country, as seen in the success of artists like Carrie Underwood, Rascal Flatts and Lady Antebellum. Even so, Rob's personal tastes in country music remain "old school," tied to the great legends of country. When he's not blogging about country music, Rob Burkhardt holds a day job as a middle school teacher, and is an avid sports fan. He lives with his wife and two teenage girls in southern Ohio.

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