Canadian Bands You Should Know: The Stellas

Jul 30, 2014

The world of music is filled with stories of everything from prodigies to lucky breaks. Every band, artist, or composer seems to have a narrative that accompanies their rise to fame. A common thread between all of these is one that’s rarely talked about outright but is in every case the most important: A hell of a lot of hard work. The Stellas, a Canadian country music duo, exemplify this idea. Through their rise from humble beginnings, they have arguably become one of the most talked about newcomers to the country scene.

The Stellas are a husband and wife duo hailing from Whitby, Ontario and yesterday, July 29, 2014, marks the release of their single “Gravy,” the first track from their upcoming sophomore album.

The Stellas new single “Gravy.”

If the idea of ‘gravy’ could be construed as a positive, something like “everything’s coming up gravy,” then The Stellas have done a perfect job of choosing their new single. In 2008, the couple found themselves visiting Nashville for a short trip, newcomers and nobodies in the huge, daunting world of country music. At this point, both were making a living as janitors, one of the many jobs they undertook in order to bankroll their greater musical aspirations. It was during this trip to Nashville though, that everything changed, or “came up gravy.”

Something to keep in mind is that during this trip to Nashville, The Stellas (Brad and MaryLynne Stella in case you were wondering) had two young girls to take care of on top of their full time day job—not to mention their musical undertakings which on their own could be considered a full time pursuit. Success was attained that night in Nashville, however, when they took the stage at a local club for an unplanned performance. As fate would have it, in the crowd that evening was a music publisher who signed them soon after hearing their performance.

Since then, everything has been on an uphill trajectory. Signed to EMI Canada, competing in Country Music Television’s program Can You Duet? and having their two daughters star in the hit television showNashville, things couldn’t seem to be getting much better; add to that opening slots for the likes of Johnny Reid and Zac Brown Band and you’ve got the makings of a true success story.

Their first album came in 2011 with their self-titled debut album The Stellas. The record is a pared-down collection of modern and traditional country that relies most heavily upon guitar and the voices of Brad and MaryLynne. What shines through is the simple effectiveness of the duo’s song writing, something that is also evident in their live performances which manage to maintain the quality and immediateness of their album tracks.

The Stellas performing from inside a vehicle the track “Woe Is Me” from their debut album.

Now living in Nashville, The Stellas express the sentiment of their success most effectively through some of the lyrics found in their new single, proclaiming “We used to share a burger, now we share a burger and fries.”

It is this sense of humour, mixed with their strong song writing that helps to make The Stellas such an appealing addition to the country music scene. Whether it’s on stage or in an interview, the duo maintains a level of humility that draws people in to what they’re doing.

The Stellas in an interview with Boots and Hearts along with a live performance of their single “Gravy.”

Of course, this level of success would not be possible without the songs to back it up. For The Stellas, this isn’t a problem. 20 years of playing together and writing songs for all kinds of venues and situations has given them the foundation that many musicians would envy and now having been given the chance to showcase it to a larger audience, they are showing what they can really do. If their earlier material is any indication their new album should be more than enough to keep their fans happy, both new and old.

Download music from The Stellas here.

-Nathaniel Schmidt

Contact me with any comments or suggestions at
Twitter: @N88TE

The National Music Centre Mailing List

Subscribe to receive news, updates and special promotions.