Independent Lens: "The View" with The Roys

Get to know the award-winning roots music duo in this artist feature.

It has been said there is no harmony like family harmony, and one case in point is the beautiful vocals of brother and sister Bluegrass duo Lee and Elaine Roy, known professionally as The Roys. The Massachusetts natives raised in Canada draw on a wealth of family musical talent and heritage. Their incredible sibling harmonies are unique and yet comparable to a cross between Miranda Lambert and Alison Krauss (Elaine) and reminiscent of country/bluegrass music icon Ricky Skaggs. Their impeccable musicianship, tight vocals and storytelling style of songwriting have brought about their rise to the forefront of the bluegrass scene in recent years. In September, The Roys released their fourth album for Rural Rhythm, titled The View. The project is hailed as the truest representation of The Roys unique sound to date. The album also has a foundation of The Roys success as songwriters, introducing eleven new songs written by the duo.

“Elaine and I have poured our hearts into this project,” says Lee. “We really wanted to promote our sound and our story with this record…..We wanted it to be our music and showcase our songwriting. It’s a bit unnerving to throw so much of yourself out there, but we wanted the album to tell our story….The Roys’ story,” he explained. Elaine added, “For years, our fans have been telling us they really love the music we write, so we wanted to really expand upon that. Also, it’s been great getting our own band members creatively involved in recording this album. The project has really cemented us as performers and broadened us the foundation we continue to build upon. This album, more than anything we’ve ever done before, has our signature on it—from beginning to end. We are very proud of it.”

Indeed, the pair have reason to be proud. The View debuted at #2 on the Billboard Top Ten Bluegrass Albums, and the upbeat, toe-tapping single “No More Lonely” reached #1 on the current Bluegrass Today Weekly Airplay Chart this week. “This is our first #1 on the Bluegrass Today Chart!” Lee said, and Elaine added “It’s huge, and with the honor of our nominations it’s a great way to kick off…the IBMA World of Bluegrass week."

The siblings are in final-round nominations for ICM Inspirational Bluegrass Artist, Vocal Duo and Duo Performance Awards. Winners will be announced at the Faith, Family and Country Awards’ 20th Anniversary Special in Nashville November 13. The View contains such personal, poignant songs from “Heaven Needed Her More,” a song about loss, to “Sometimes” – a song about Alzheimer’s. “In fact,’ Lee added, “Our co-writer’s mom was suffering from Alzheimer’s. As we discussed the fact that few people aren’t in some way touched by Alzheimer’s in this day and age, the topic drifted to the “ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that was viral on Social Media, raising awareness—and millions of dollars of funding – for ALS Research.

A suggestion was made that “Sometimes” would be a great starting point to a similar campaign to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s, and Lee stated, “You’ve sparked something in my head and I think Elaine and I are going to have to talk about that possibility.” He added, “It was a song we just started doing, and it’s not our story but it’s everybody’s story these days, sadly.” The title track was co-written with Country Music legendary singer/songwriter Bill Anderson, and paints a picture of the final resting place of the pair’s grandparents. “Those Boots” is a song easily relatable to the listener, from the farmer to our military or anyone who has loved someone who has worked or served as one, the other or both. “Live the Life You Love” is another upbeat and positive song about being grateful for what you have and being content.

Another song destined to be beloved by all bluegrass fans is “Mandolin Man”, a tribute to Bill Monroe. Lee said he was listening to Monroe, and the idea for the song came to him. “I started to write and finished it in a little over an hour. It really lends itself to the traditional side of bluegrass, and as we met with the label it was discussed that the song would be so cool with Del McCoury or Doyle Lawson featured on it, and Doyle asked to lay some vocals down. He ended up playing and singing on the track. It was amazing how it all came together,” Lee added. “Mended Wings” is one of the most inspirational songs, and features the mandolin as well as Elaine’s haunting vocals; a song about redemption and the certainty of faith.

Just before the release of The View, we had a chance to catch up with Lee and Elaine Roy. In August 2014 the duo signed for an exclusive booking agreement with the prestigious Buddy Lee Attractions for worldwide representation. Established in 1964, Buddy Lee Attractions is Nashville’s largest privately owned talent company, and has developed and represented artists like George Strait, Willie Nelson, and Garth Brooks. Lee was very excited about the events unfolding at that time. “We wanted to be with an agency that got our music; that we do bluegrass and country music. We used to be shy about saying we do both. Sometimes there are lines. They (BLA) have been completely supportive of our vision.”

"We're very excited," says Elaine Roy. "Nobody knows this business better." Lee notes, "They've broken some of the biggest acts of all time, handled Bill Monroe throughout his career, and continue to represent some of today's biggest entertainers. We're thrilled to join their roster."

As far as spending so much time with his sibling, Lee quipped “There’s a reason we live several hours apart!” He then added, “We actually live a couple of houses apart, but we’ve been doing this so long together, since we were kids from family gatherings to touring and recording. We’ve just picked up on which of us has which strength, so I handle most of the production, and the music end, and Elaine takes care of the business end and paperwork. We really do work great together.” Since 2011, when the duo first caught the attention of the bluegrass world with their Top 10 debut album Lonesome Whistle, The Roys’ have captured the hearts of fans everywhere.

Their 2012 sophomore album New Day Dawning debuted at #2 on the Billboard Bluegrass Albums Chart and reached #1 on Amazon’s Bluegrass Best-Sellers List. By September of 2013, every song on this EP held positions on the Bluegrass Today Chart, making The Roys’ the first-ever act to achieve that honor, and went on to release their third album Gypsy Runaway Train which reached #2 on the Billboard Bluegrass Albums Chart and earned the #1 spot on SiriusXM Bluegrass Junction’s Most-Played Albums Chart along with the stand-out single from the album “Those Memories of You”.

2013 was a busy year for The Roys’ as they made their Grand Ole Opry Debut in November 2013 and embarked on a European tour including stops in Germany, England and Denmark. The Roys’ have performed throughout the U.S., Australia, Canada and Europe and have shared the stage with Chris Young, Doyle Lawson, Rhonda Vincent, Neal McCoy, Lady Antebellum and The Oak Ridge Boys. The pair has already amassed a number of awards, including Inspirational Country Music (ICM) Duo of the Year in 2009 and 2010; ICM Artist of the Year in 2011, 2012 and 2013; and International Acoustic Music Awards (IAMA) #1 Bluegrass Artist for 2014. You Can Find The Roys online at their website, Facebook or on Twitter.

Fans can see The Roys’ perform at the following locations:

  • Oct 01-04 Raleigh, NC – IBMA Convention
  • Oct 10 Rio Grande, OH – Bob Evans Bluegrass Festival
  • Oct 18 Titusville, FL – Faith City Church
  • Oct 19 Orange Park, FL – Orange Park Fall Festival
  • Nov 01 McKinney, TX – McKinney Performing Arts Center
  • Nov 02 Longview, TX – Belcher Center Nov 14 Crystal River, FL – St. Timothy Lutheran Church
  • Nov 22 Dunnellon, FL – Withlacoochee River BGF
  • Dec 13 Pigeon Forge, TN – Christmas in the Smokies
  • Jan 08-12, 2015 – Tampa, FL – Danny Stewart Bluegrass Cruise
  • Jan 18-25 Ft Lauderdale, FL – The Country Music Cruise
  • Apr 08-12 Duluth, MN – 2015 Arrowhead Home & Builders Show

"The View" Tracklist:

  1. No More Lonely
  2. Those Boots
  3. Heaven Needed Her More
  4. Sometimes
  5. Live the Life You Love
  6. The View
  7. No More Tears Left to Cry
  8. Northern Skies
  9. Black Gold
  10. Mended Wings
  11. Mandolin Man