By Kurt Wolff
The saga of the Civil Wars just won’t quit. In 2013, the country-folk duo of John Paul White and Joy Williams earned their third GRAMMY award (they’d won two the year before), and they even released a critically acclaimed second album — all while not actually being a band anymore (they announced their professional split in 2012).
Now they’ve gone and won yet another GRAMMY, this time for Best Country Duo/Group Performance for their song “From This Valley.”
The win is significant, as they won in a category against such country stalwarts as Little Big Town (who won it last year and were again nominated this year for “Your Side of the Bed”), Vince Gill and Kelly Clarkson (“Don’t Rush”), Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton (“You Can’t Make Old Friends”), and the powerhouse triple threat of Tim McGraw, Taylor Swift and Keith Urban, who performed together on McGraw’s huge No. 1 hit of last year, “Highway Don’t Care.”
This was one of several losses for Swift, a seven-time GRAMMY winner who last night was nominated in four categories (including Album of the Year) but took home no trophies.
The Civil Wars’ win occurred during a non-televised portion of the GRAMMY ceremony, though White did appear in person to accept the award. Williams was not present, though she did tweet her excitement last night and also noted that she was home taking care of her son “who is sick today.”
At the podium, White did not thank or even mention his former musical partner Williams, who cowrote the song with White (and Phil Madeira). White did, though, give a shout out to one of the other nominees. “I want to apologize to Dolly Parton for depriving her of anything at all,” he said during his acceptance speech. “She’s one of my biggest heroes, and it’s an honor to be nominated with everyone in this category.”
Today, however, White, in a series of tweets, offered an apology for his omission of Williams and others during his time at the mic. He said he was “surprised by the win” and was in “multiple states of shock,” yet that that’s “no excuse” for not acknowledging others who contributed to the song.
“I want to thank all for their congrats. Truly. My silence has never been ambivalence,” he wrote. “I also want to apologize for my omission of Joy, Charlie Peacock, Richie Biggs, and Nate Yetton (among many others) in my thank you’s. It was classless and unacceptable, and I hope my personal and public apology can and will be accepted. I can’t begin to say how surprised I was by the win, or that I took the podium alone. Multiple states of shock. But no excuse.”
The fact that these are the first tweets he’s posted since November of 2012 implies that White’s words are, indeed, sincere. Again, note what he wrote in the first tweet: “My silence has never been ambivalence.”
Last night’s win is the Civil Wars fourth overall GRAMMY and their second in this same category. They won Best Country Duo/Group Performance in 2012 for the song “Barton Hollow” (they also won that year in the Best Folk Album for their debut album of the same name).
White posted one final tweet that read: “Thanks also for your patience this past year, and understanding of my stance to devote all energies to my family. It is dearly appreciated.”
So where does this leave the state of the duo in 2014? Again, it’s almost impossible to say. The fact that White broke his silence on Twitter is significant (Williams tweets regularly), but at the same time it doesn’t necessarily signify anything about the future of the group.
As for Williams, she’s acted as the de facto spokesperson for the group lately, and appears to be open to future projects. In a 2013 interview, she said she was “really proud of what we created together” on the Civil Wars’ 2013 self-titled album. “And we created it together — we just happened to be in a bit of a civil war ourselves.”
“John Paul and I aren’t speaking right now,” she continued. But as for what the future might hold? “The reality is I’m not even quite sure.”