By Pam Windsor | Photography courtesy of HighRoad
Known for soulful, well-blended harmonies, the members of this all-female group are taking their music on the road.
They come from different backgrounds, but the members of HighRoad are all “family.” They share a love of music, a deep faith, and an extremely close bond that shines through every song they sing whether they’re performing at a church, a festival, or even at a recent appearance on the much-honored stage of the Grand Ole Opry.
“We love playing together,” says Lauren Conklin, the group’s fiddle player. “When I first started with HighRoad I loved playing the music, but now just knowing everyone so well, we’ve all become so close, they feel like family. It’s added a new level to playing together.”
Sarah Davison, the lead vocalist and pianist, spent a lot of time performing on her own and with other artists before forming her own band. (She even toured with George Jones’ band on his final tour of Canada.) She and the other three members now playing with HighRoad have been together for the past several years.
“We love singing together,” she says. “All of us grew up playing music, so whether it’s instrumental music or vocal music, we try to listen to each other and stay in tune with what the other person’s doing, so we can complement each other.”
They are known for their soulful, well-blended harmonies, a musical style that combines bluegrass, country, and gospel, and a joy that shines through every one of them when they perform. Davison agrees they share something special.
“It’s something none of us could create on our own,” she says. “It’s something God has given to us and we feel honored to be a part of it.”
All are talented musicians and singers who grew up in different parts of the country. Davison is from a small town in Iowa.
“I grew up on a cattle farm,” she says. “My parents were super encouraging with music and my dad is one of those people who plays everything. My grandma taught me how to play piano, kind of the way I do now.”
Her childhood included playing at country festivals with her dad’s bluegrass band before she eventually moved to Nashville to study music at Belmont University.
“I used to yodel and clog as a kid, and yes, I won the Jimmie Rogers yodeling contest when I was little,” she adds, laughing.
Conklin is a Nashville-native who describes her family as more “classic rock” oriented. However, she grew up around a lot of country and bluegrass music and was exposed to many different fiddle styles.
“I love bluegrass,” she says, “and I love that we do a lot of things like that.”
She, too, went to Belmont for music and majored in commercial violin performance.
Kinsey Kapfhammer is from Louisville, Kentucky. She learned to play the family piano by ear and by the age 10 was learning to play guitar, and write and record her own songs on cassette.
“Music has always been a part of my life,” she says. “I grew up listening to classic rock and singing in choirs. In middle and high school, I led worship at church with the youth band.
She attended Northern Kentucky University before moving to Nashville to follow her dream of becoming an artist.
Kristen Bearfield grew up in Eastern Tennessee and Western North Carolina. There, she got an early introduction to mountain and Appalachian music. In fact, her uncle played bass and fiddle for bluegrass great Bill Monroe. After high school, Bearfield moved to Virginia to pursue a worship and music degree at Liberty University, but a devastating car accident derailed her plans.
“I lost my voice and I lost my ability to play instruments,” she says, describing what happened in the wake of the crash. “I had an onset of traumatic arthritis they said might never leave me, and eventually I would end up in a wheelchair.”
That tragic prediction is difficult to imagine today as she stands on stage playing the guitar, the mandolin, and the banjo.
“It was a rough couple of years, but God really healed me and brought me through all of that. I had to relearn to sing and everything.”
She later transferred to East Tennessee State where she took part in the Bluegrass and Country Music program and received a marketing degree.
Since coming together, the women of HighRoad have worked hard to write, record and release music that showcases their talents, as well as their faith. They’ve been successful with critically acclaimed songs that have climbed the Gospel charts, like “Somewhere I’m Going,” “We are Broken,” and “Christ My Hope, My Glory” featuring Jason Crabbe.
Thanks to that success, they’re spending a lot more time on the road.
“We’re been very busy,” Davidson says. “We’re pretty much out every weekend. We’re already booking dates for next year, which is super-exciting because we weren’t doing that this time last year.”
They’re hopeful about the future and wherever their music may take them.
“We just have to trust and stay obedient and in tune with what the Lord wants and I think he’ll bless that above everything else,” says Bearfield.