Liz and Lynn grew up in Comfort, North Carolina and they have been singing for as long as they can remember. As small girls, the nearly identical twins could be found sharing an upside down hymnal on Sunday mornings. Even before they could read, they would sing along with the congregation. The traditional hymns and Southern gospel they grew up with have been a strong influence in their music. “This is really where our roots in music begin for us. When we need to reconnect with each other and just give thanks to God for the wonderful gifts He has given us, this is the music we sing.”
Lynn started playing guitar at 17 years old after hearing Roseanne Cash’s recording of “Tennessee Flattop Box”. According to Liz, “If you liked a song on the radio, you wouldn’t for long after, hear it a blue million times because Lynnie would play it so much”. The guitar opened up a whole new world for the two. Now they could make all the music they wanted.
Their love of music ranges from classical to bluegrass, gospel to hip hop, country to rock, folk to reggae, and more. Out of these genres, there have been certain artists that greatly influenced their own musical style. Nanci Griffith, Emmylou Harris, Allison Krauss, and the harmonies of The Judds and the Eagles just to name a few. They are big fans of songwriters such as James Taylor, Mark Knopfler, John Prine.
The girls attribute their love of singing to their mother Carol and their Aunt Nancy. The girls say what they remember the most about their mother, who they call “Mama”, when they were growing up, was that she knew every song on the radio and she was always singing. They say they can still hear her belting out the lyrics to “Satin Sheets”. Saturday mornings were supposed to be cleaning day. For their mama it was also an opportunity to put on the Bee Gees record with John Travolta in that now famous pose. They still remember the steps to the dance she taught them while they all sang “Stayin’ Alive” along with the record. Their Aunt Nancy played an accordian and sang beautifully. She taught the two girls songs whenever they stayed with her and Uncle Darrell. Of course, the two would then sing for them. Aunt Nancy just loved it and was so proud of them. She unknowingly planted a seed in the two, and their love of performing has never wavered. Liz and Lynn have performed together in churches, at community events, for charities, front porches, impromptu kitchen ensembles (their favorite), and anywhere the music will take them.
In June 2009, they were at a friend’s rehearsing when they met Hank Barbee. He had recently moved back to his hometown of Richlands, North Carolina from Atlanta, Georgia. They had an instant connection. He loved their harmony and they loved how he played that guitar!
Hank started playing guitar when he was 11 years old. He grew up listening to a wide variety of music. One music in particular “struck a chord” with Hank. It was Appalachian folk music. His mother tells a story that when he was three years old they had taken him to hear Doc Watson perform. Throughout the entire show, Hank played the seat in front of him and kept up with Doc while he played through his repertoire of songs. Although it would be a few years before he started playing, he was a musician in the making even then.
His first, and primary instrument since age 11 is still the guitar. When playing finger-style on an acoustic, he possesses an ability to define melody and rhythm simultaneously. On Dobro, he evokes an almost voice-like conveyance of emotion; and on electric, with a light touch, his tone can range from funky and growling to soaring and intense. Add to his family of stringed instruments his 1957 Gibson double-neck steel guitar, 6-string lap steel, resonator guitar and mandolin. He performs styles on these old instruments ranging from primitive country and gospel to rock, blues and roots music.
“Every sound I have ever heard has developed my musicality in one way or another” when asked about his love of music. Yet despite being such a talented player and multi-instrumentalist, what truly sets him apart is his songwriting. Touching and skillful, Hank’s songs speak with an honesty only capable of being measured with feelings. Citing a far range of influences, from Johnny Cash and Jerry Reed to Mark Knopfler and Ryan Adams, he respects no boundary on subject-matter or musical style. The ups and downs of human existence, the deepest darkest depths and the heights of spirituality are some of the subjects commonly breached by his writing. Over the years, Hank has performed in garages, recitals, music theatre, churches, clubs, porches, bars, basement, attics, stadium, ballgames, political agendas, radio, weddings, television and for fun in probably every venue you can think of, good or bad, in a lot of cities in the USA.
Hank, Liz and Lynn found their individual talents complemented each other quite well. The combination of having a unique sound, great original songs, and being good friends, it was only natural to take it further. They decided to officially become a musical group and named themselves “Belle Vici”. “Belle” meaning beautiful—for the gifts that God has given them and the music they create. “Vici” meaning conquer—from Julius Caesar’s quote “I came, I saw, I conquered”—a celebration of obstacles overcome and battles won.