The Civil Wars On Winning Their First GRAMMYs

  • The Civil Wars
    Photo: Rick Diamond/

Receiving a GRAMMY was an absolute shock. It was absolutely surreal. We dreamed of being at the GRAMMYs one day, but never anticipated being nominated. When our names were called a startling second time, I very nearly went into a catatonic state (as evidenced by my lack of words returning to the stage). We love that our producer, Charlie Peacock, came onstage to accept the second award with us. It's been teamwork with a patchwork quilt of incredibly hardworking people from the beginning, and it was rewarding sharing this experience with all of them.

My experience at the GRAMMY ceremony was initially nerve-racking — the magnitude of Staples Center, countless musicians we admire in the audience and a few million people watching at home can do that to you. But as soon as John Paul White and I stepped onstage, something clicked. All we had to do was just be ourselves and sing like we do every night. Once I remembered that, all the nerves gave way to a rush of endorphins.

Also, I've never been on before until the GRAMMYs. That's been unique. But for the most part, it's been business as usual since the awards ceremony. We have seen a major boost in album sales, which has been encouraging. And if we get back to the GRAMMYs next year, I'll wear a shorter red-carpet dress, and John Paul won't accidentally strangle me by stepping on my train when Dave Grohl waves at him next time.

— Joy Williams

We really didn't fully believe we'd win, as evidenced by our thank-you note that was torn from an envelope an hour before with about eight names on it (and five of those were my wife and kids). Our parents didn't get their shout-out, and that's probably the only fail of the evening. They wholeheartedly deserved one. 

I think the wins helped us focus, in a strange way. There was a bit of a calming effect. When we performed, it felt perfectly natural — a fitting exclamation point for a night to remember.

— John Paul White

(The Civil Wars' Joy Williams and John Paul White earned the Best Country Duo/Group Performance and Best Folk Album awards for "Barton Hollow" and the album of the same name at the 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards, marking the first career wins for the duo.)

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