#BreakingTheIce Delta Rae’s Liz Hopkins

The Valory Music Co six-man band Delta Rae hails from North Carolina. Their current single titled “A Long and Happy Life” is gaining momentum all over the airplay grid. Their harmonies are massively brilliant and flawless. They are pure musicians to the core.  Chemistry nor talent is lacking with these guys. Their summer tour has kicked off with dates in areas such as Baltimore, MD as well as southern MD. Also, the fabulous NYC. Make it your summer “to do” list to check these master musicians out this summer.

Where are you answering these questions from and what are you wearing?

Hi y’all! I’m answering from our trusty old tour vehicle. We performed at 2 radio stations in Knoxville, TN this morning and are now on highway 40 en route to a place we don’t get to often: HOME; Raleigh, North Carolina. I’m wearing a vintage suede dark orange A-line skirt, long sleeved white crop top, knee high mahogany/reddish-brown leather boots. The skirt is from the UK and has shiny buttons going up the front and I love it. The boots are a hand me down from my mom.  They’re Joan & David Couture and I dig having them on tour because they are stylish but still comfy.

What is your official title and favorite thing about what you do?

My official title is: Vocalist in Delta Rae. I love what I do because singing has always been my favorite thing to do. It is who I am and I feel grateful and lucky that every day that it is also my life’s work. I love the exchange of energy that takes place when we share our music with live audiences. We put our hearts into the writing and rehearsal process, and it’s very rewarding to take it out on the road and see our stories resonate with other people. In addition to all that, I get to do it with people I deeply love and respect. My band mates are my best friends and they are family to me.

What are three things you CANNOT live without?

Three things I cannot live without?

1-Coffee

2-Bose Quiet Comfort Noise Cancellation Headphones (we’ve got a lot of long drives and plane rides and I need my jams)

3- Jacques Pepin’s “Heart & Soul” Cookbook.  He is my favorite chef. I love watching his cooking show and hearing him talk about food in his soothing French accent. He brings me joy and makes me feel at peace no matter what is going on in my life.

What was the first concert you ever attended?

The first concert I remember attending was The Allman Brothers. I was in New Jersey with my family and it was an amazing evening. I’ll never forget hearing the entire crowd singing along to “Midnight Rider.”  It is so tragic that Duane Allman passed away so early in their band’s career but nevertheless they have incredible songs and they create such a wonderful feeling at their concerts and through their albums. I love the wide-open rock and roll southern summer feeling their music gives me. I could listen to them for days.

How long have you guys been playing music together?

Delta Rae started in 2009, so the six of us have been a band for 8 years. The four singers (Ian, Eric, Brittany and I) were harmonizing together for years before that. We grew up singing and performing together in a teen vocal group and also shared the stage in theater productions. It was the years in an A Cappella group that cemented 4-part harmony as a cornerstone of Delta Rae’s sound. Ian and Eric have also been writing music together since they were 10 & 12 years old.

What’s the hardest life lesson you have learned?

Y’all don’t shy away from the tough questions, do you! The hardest life lesson that I have learned is something I used to hear my mom say all the time growing up. “Don’t burn the candle at both ends.” It took a few years of touring to realize the only way to stay in music and performing for the long haul and to find fulfillment from my work is by staying healthy. In order to do that and find happiness, I try to live a balanced life. No one is going to do this for us.  It is difficult to juggle on the road, but I try to eat healthily, to make sure to get enough sleep and put effort into maintaining personal relationships in order to stay grounded. I’m doing my best mom, I promise!

Do you have a favorite restaurant or hangout spot in music city?

Steadfast Café in Germantown. I love their outdoor patio and they have wonderful, delicious and fresh food.

Beer or whiskey?

Beer.

Who is your favorite country singer from the 90s?

Shania Twain! She had so many great anthems and is all about girl power! I still blast her on sunny afternoons when I’m cleaning my house. It’s the BEST.

If you could duet with any male artist who would you pick and why?

This is another tough one! I think it would be awesome to duet with Tom Petty because I just love so many of his songs. Straight ahead rock and roll.

Do you have a favorite place to perform?

This is a hard question because we have such wonderful and passionate fans, in so many cities. I love performing in Boston, DC, and NYC the most. When we first started the band we all still had day jobs in North Carolina, we would drive up and down the east coast every weekend and we really built our following that way in the beginning before getting signed. So there is a nostalgic feeling every time we go. I also went to college in NYC and lived there for a few years after so I’ve got a big place in my heart for it. All of the City Winery locations are fantastic too because that space brings such genuine listeners. At City Winery, you can hear a pin drop during our quieter songs. That is a very gratifying experience for a performer.

What’s one gift you will never forget?

I will use this question to tell you that Brittany Holljes is one of the most caring and generous people on this earth. She is the most thoughtful gift giver I have ever known. When we still had day jobs before transitioning full-time to Delta Rae, she worked at a boutique in Durham. I used to visit her and chat with her when business was slow. There was a pair of sky-high gray pumps by Kelsi Dagger in there that were fabulous, and I used to try them on and walk all over the store in them every time I went to visit Britt. I never considered buying them because they were way out of my price range at the time. Months later, what do you think Brittany had purchased and wrapped up for me as a Christmas present? Those very shoes! We were all still living together at the time so I was so impressed she had been able to keep that secret for so long.  And yes, yes I did tear up when I opened it. To this day I am very moved remembering this story. She is a gem of a friend.

What current event has your eyes and ears? What are you doing about it?

Currently what has my eyes and ears, as well as the entire band’s – is teacher appreciation. The Educators of this world are invaluable because they have the power to shape our children into kind, understanding people who could someday be this nation’s leaders. We as a country do not thank them enough.  They’re underpaid and under appreciated so we’re doing a campaign this year to shine a light on America’s Educators: Tickets for Teachers. Our Tickets for Teachers program awards free admission to our show to an educator at every single stop on our upcoming 60 date tour. We’ll be announcing winners throughout our tour and the nominations are coming from our fans. We’ve had hundreds of submissions via our website and social media platforms, and it has been great reading all the stories about people’s favorite teachers. Please go and check it out and nominate a teacher in your community! Without the incredible teachers and mentors we had growing up, we wouldn’t be who we are and Delta Rae wouldn’t exist. All six of us were supported and encouraged to pursue music when we were kids and we’re so glad we did! I was raised by a single mom who taught special ed and English and later became a school principal. Our drummer, Mike Mckee was raised by two piano teachers and also taught drums before joining Delta Rae. Our Bass Player Grant taught Guitar before joining Delta Rae, and I worked at a pre-school before Delta Rae took off.  Gratitude for teachers runs very deep in our bones. Giving away tickets to our shows is the LEAST we can do!

How do you think songwriters play a vital role in music today?

Well with out songwriters there wouldn’t be songs, right? And without songs there wouldn’t be albums, or singles to be played on the radio or tracks to be featured in film and television.  And I’d have no jams to pump in my headphones on this drive. I think it all starts and ends with the songs and all of us singers and instrumentalists would all be out of a job without them.

What’s been the highlight of your career thus far?

This job is wonderful and it’s difficult to pin point one moment. But if I must, we were re-recording a song from our first album called “If I Loved You.” We had a very talented producer in L.A. named Rob Cavallo reach out to us because he thought it was a smash and wanted to work with us on a new version. When we arrived at the studio, he asked us if we’d heard about the guest on the track. We hadn’t. Then he asked, “Have you guys ever heard of Fleetwood Mac?” — we all laughed because they are probably our favorite band collectively and have always been a huge inspiration to us. It turned out that Rob Cavallo is very good friends with Lindsay Buckingham– the monster talented guitarist of Fleetwood Mac. Lindsey had been over for dinner a few nights ago and Rob played the rough demo for him, he ended up taking a 12 string guitar off the wall and noodling along to our track. Rob loved what he heard so much that he had Lindsey record the part and Lindsey Buckingham is now featured on “If I Loved You.” We were so honored to have him as part of the track and we are dreaming of the day that we can thank him in person.

You’re making your favorite sandwich…what’s on it?

The most important element of a sandwich is the mustard y’all! Spicy!

Name one artist from any genre, besides country, that you are a fan of and tell us why?

Beyonce is an incredible performer and an icon of female empowerment. She is an immensely talented vocalist and dancer but she is more than just a performer, she is a role model for young women. I think what she stands for is so important. She is a self-made, successful, strong African American female performer  who encourages women to value themselves and to fully realize their potential. She is a testament to the fact that we can do anything men do and we do it in heels! She is soulful and truly inspirational.

What makes you laugh out loud?

Our drummer, Mike McKee. He keeps us all from killing each other cause he’s so funny.

Fill in the blank: Females in country music are….

Females in country music are soulful, gritty truth tellers that are here to make you cry one minute, smile the next, and remind you that we’re all in this together.

Fill in the blank: Country music has made me…

Country music has made me appreciate story telling and has taught me what a warm community of respect and encouragement there is among musicians.

Author: Brittany Vance

West Virginia born & bred living life in the DMV. I believe in kind hearts & strong drinks. Mom of two boys and Autism advocate. Music is not only powerful but magical. In the words of Merle Haggard: Good music will live forever. I am here to share that music with each of you.

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