For three decades now, Robin & Linda Williams have made it their mission to perform the music that they love, “a robust blend of bluegrass, folk, old-time and acoustic country that combines wryly observant lyrics with a wide-ranging melodicism.” Today some might call it “Americana”, but these two revered music masters were living and breathing this elixir 20 years before that label was turned into a radio format.
As live performers they are second to none. Their stirring concerts have earned them a huge body of fans over the years. But as gifted songwriters Robin and Linda have earned an even more rare honor - the devotion and deep respect of their musical peers. The list of artists who have covered their original songs include some of the greats of country music, names like Emmylou Harris, Tom T. Hall, George Hamilton IV, Tim & Mollie O’Brien, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Kathy Mattea and The Seldom Scene.
Home for Robin and Linda is an old frame house built around a log cabin in Middlebrook, Virginia, right in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley. Linda is a native of Anniston, Alabama, and Robin (the son of a Presbyterian minister) was born in Charlotte, North Carolina. They met and fell for each other in 1971 on a visit to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, while Linda was teaching school and Robin was a full-time musician on a national coffeehouse circuit. It wasn’t long before they discovered additional magic when they combined their voices in harmony.
Despite being true children of the South, their career got its initial momentum up north in the Minneapolis folk scene. Robin had made many friends and connections there as a solo artist and in 1975 they recorded their first album in Minneapolis for a local record company. The same year they made their first appearance on a little radio show just getting off the ground called A Prairie Home Companion and their rich relationship with that icon of American broadcasting has continued for almost three decades.
Over the next fifteen years they recorded several fine albums and continued to crisscross the country, past miles and miles of highway signs, thrilling audiences with their songs and harmonies. Folk and country fans alike loved their honest heartfelt music. In 1989 a major breakthrough came with their signing to Sugar Hill Records, with whom they would go on to record nine albums. It would be a fruitful relationship and, amazingly, each succeeding recording (beginning with 1989’s All Broken Hearts are the Same) would top the previous one in artistry and quality.
Around the same time, they began to tour with a band called Their Fine Group, and their already big sound grew all the more. In 1993 the Williams saw increased exposure through a major tour with Mary Chapin Carpenter and the now large national audience of A Prairie Home Companion. With their career now at its 20-year mark Robin and Linda entered into a prolific period of artistic productivity. Within six years they released their all gospel CD (which garnered two nominations for Gospel Album of the Year) and three CDs of predominately original material, beginning with 1996’s Sugar for Sugar (which spent thirteen weeks on the Americana chart). This period of productivity, culminating with 2000’s Company of Strangers, served notice to an ever-increasing audience of Robin and Linda’s dedication to their artistry.
Having always sung gospel music, in the late 1980s they teamed up with their old friend and A Prairie Home Companion host Garrison Keillor and bluegrass songstress Kate MacKenzie to form The Hopeful Gospel Quartet. This wonderful sideline ensemble has gone on to release two albums and tour the USA, British Isles and Europe.
Robin & Linda have made appearances on such major programs as The Grand Old Opry, Austin City Limits, Music City Tonight, Mountain Stage and they continue to make frequent appearances on A Prairie Home Companion. They will also be featured in an upcoming film written by Garrison Keillor and directed by critically acclaimed filmmaker Robert Altman. The movie is a fictional story based on the set of “A Prairie Home Companion” and stars such notable actors as Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones, Lily Tomlin, Woody Harrelson, John C. Reilly, Kevin Kline and Lindsay Lohan.
They tour constantly with Their Fine Group. Band members include Jim Watson on bass, vocals and mandolin, who has been with them since the group’s beginning. Jim was a founding member of The Red Clay Ramblers and played with them for fourteen years. Rounding out the ensemble is the most recent member, Jimmy Gaudreau, on mandolin and mandola (a veteran of such venerable bands as The Country Gentlemen, J. D. Crowe, the Tony Rice Unit, Chesapeake and Aldridge, Bennett & Gaudreau).
In 2004, Robin & Linda released Deeper Waters, their first album on Red House Records. The First Christmas Gift was released in 2005 and was their first holiday recording.