Family acts are one of the deepest traditions of music from the American South. From the earliest days of the settlers, music has always been an important Southern family and social activity. Strong and unshakeable, it’s just something that’s in the blood—and in the air—when Southern folks get together to play. Think of the Carter Family, the Everly and Allman brothers, the Judds. And now prepare to add another name to that list: Summerfield.
Comprised of cousins Summer Collins (15, vocals and guitar) and Isaac Ball (20, violin), Summerfield is an astonishing modern country-pop duo that, in barely a year, has won legions of fervent fans stretching from the pair’s Fayetteville, North Carolina, home to as far away as Russia and Europe. But, being close relatives, Summerfield’s roots naturally go back farther than the act’s official beginnings.
“Our families get together every year for the holidays and have a little private Christmas concert,” says Isaac, whose interest in the violin started when he was six. “When Summer and I first played with some other family members at one of those gatherings, we never thought that in just a few years we’d be working together—and having so much fun writing songs.”
Fifteen of those songs make up Sunlit Destination, Summerfield’s debut on the group’s own Rock the Boat
Records label (the duo also runs its own publishing wing). “Everything,” the album’s uplifting first single, was composed by Isaac as a tribute to his hard-working father, a loving sentiment that Summer, a self-described “Army brat,” strongly shares. “Like Isaac, I’m very thankful to my dad for all he does,” says the singer, who has been performing since age 10. “‘Everything’ has a message people everywhere can relate to, I think.” Among the record’s other melodic, radio-ready cuts with equally far-reaching resonance are “Hurricane,” a poignant meditation on the confusion of first love, laced with Summer’s soaring voice; and the title track, a carefree ode to breaking free from the workaday world that pairs Isaac’s lilting strings with rock-tinged guitars.
As a live act, Summerfield had a true baptism of fire—playing to over 15,000 people at Fayetteville’s annual Dogwood Festival in April 2010. “We were pretty nervous at first,” recalls Isaac. “But it felt great and right away we knew we had something really special.” Still floating on air from their debut, the duo spent the following summer rehearsing, performing, and writing songs—and then it was off to Nashville to record Sunlit Destination.
Advance reviews of Sunlit Destination have seen Summerfield compared to hitmakers Taylor Swift, Lady Antebellum, and Vanessa Carlton. “We admire those artists because, like them, we try to write songs that are fun but have a meaningful story,” explains Summer, an honor student who brought her homework to the studio. Each single off the album is being accompanied by a specially produced video.
“What strikes me most about Summer and Isaac’s music is the substance it has,” says producer Ben Rice (Goesl’s Parade, Pilotdrift), who oversaw the sessions at NashVin Studio. “Even though they’re both still really young, their songs have real depth and longevity. Working with Summerfield feels like being on the cusp of something big.” And, judging by the music and the reaction of those who hear and see Summerfield perform it, that something will only get bigger over time.
Tell me about how you originally got into your craft.
Summer: I began voice lessons when I was 10 years old. I really enjoyed it, so I decided to also start taking guitar lessons. That way I could play and sing at the same time. After my guitar lessons I would walk across the street to my parents' restaurant and start performing for the people sitting around the bar. I really started to get into writing and performing when I noticed how much people enjoyed my music.
Isaac: When I was 6 years old I asked my parents for a violin. Not knowing why I wanted a violin my parents held out. However, I persisted for a year and at the age of 7 I began classical violin lessons. I immediately displayed a natural talent towards music and eventually taught myself how to play guitar. All teenagers need an outlet as they go through high school. I turned to writing music, and performing classical violin.
Summerfield: We got our start as a group in 2010 when Isaac came up from South Florida and joined his cousin Summer in performing the National Anthem at the Dogwood festival. That was essentially the Genesis of Summerfield. A few months later Isaac moved up from Florida to North Carolina and Summerfield spent the summer writing our first Album "Sunlit Destination" which is now available.
What is your favorite thing to do in the whole wide world?
Summer: I enjoy being a performer. The feeling of being on stage and seeing people enjoy our music is amazing. The mix of emotions between being a little nervous and very excited is worth all the hard work it takes to be a good performer.
Isaac: I love to write music. I have always wanted to write inspirational novels but can't quite seem to write books like I do music. If I can't sleep at night I am up in bed, sitting cross legged with a guitar in my lap and a notepad at my feet. Seeing my music evolve and get better the more I do it is a great feeling and fantastic outlet
When you were a kid, what did you think you were going to be when you grew up?
Summer: I wanted to be a veterinarian, or an artist. I have a huge love for animals and art. The two things where everything to me when I was younger.
Isaac: For me it was a toss up between and air-force pilot or a police officer. When I was younger I loved Jets, Trains, trucks. Anything with a big engine. I also thought cops were pretty much the coolest people on earth. .
In what way has your community impacted your development as a musician?
Summer: Here in Fayetteville NC, there is a a lot of country music. I have always been surrounded by both country and pop. That is probably what created our blend of country-pop that we write and perform. I also grew up in a military home. Things are different for a military brat. I feel like I've gone through things that most people don't go through until they are older. Those experiences have shaped the way I write my music.
Isaac: I am a South Florida boy! I love the beach and that beach lovin' style has flowed right into my love of country pop. Also having been a classically trained violinist and surrounding myself with classical music I feel like I've always looked at music a little differently. People have always told me, you just can't take the classical our of your country fiddlin'
What other artists out there do you love?
Summer: Vanessa Carlton for her lyrics and piano playing. Colby Caillet for her voice as well as Dolly Parton and Sara Evans
Isaac: Hillary Hahn for her [perfection] as a violinist. Zac Brown Band for their ability to write music you have to sing along with. Brad Paisley and Jennifer Hudson
What does your future hold?
Summerfield: We see ourselves growing and expanding every year. We love performing and playing shows and we can't wait to being work on our next album. We are here for the long haul and while we aren't sure exactly what the future holds we are going to keep pushing, keep growing, and keep learning. We are so excited to see what is in store for Summerfield and all of our wonderful fans that will grow with us!