Updated: Sep 11, 2019
If the songs on Flyte Three’s new EP are reminiscent of Americana folk music from a bygone era, it’s because the sisters who comprise the acoustic group grew up listening to the likes of Gordon Lightfoot, Emmylou Harris, and Nanci Griffith. On Second Thought features six tracks (including four original songs) that showcase the songwriting and harmonies of Meredith and Claire McNair – sisters who moved to Nashville in their teens to pursue music. “I told my dad when I was 15 that I wanted to be a songwriter,” Meredith remembers.
Their dad took a “let’s wait and see” approach because he was running for county judge in their hometown of Dayton, Texas (population 7,000). After he won the local election, Meredith says, “All four of us went to Nashville over Christmas break to visit family friends there.” Within weeks, the girls and their mom relocated to Hendersonville (20 miles northeast of Music City) while their dad held down the fort back in Texas. Meredith and Claire enrolled in school, as well as vocal and music lessons.
The sisters had been playing guitar since Meredith was in fifth grade and Claire in third. A couple years after moving to Nashville, Claire discovered her gift for playing the mandolin. Meredith recalls, “My dad taught me three chords on the mandolin, and then I taught them to Claire, and she just took it and ran with it.”
Nowadays when the duo performs live, Claire plays the mandolin while Meredith plays acoustic guitar. They take turns with lead vocals. “It kind of depends on who writes it, or who likes the song better, or who can sing it better... We both have different ranges in our voices. Claire can go higher than I can; I can go lower than she can.” The girls credit their vocal coach, Judy Rodman (who also co-produced their new EP), with teaching them how to harmonize. “Our parents sing, and we grew up singing as a family, but had never done the harmonies thing,” Meredith explains.
Whether they are writing, rehearsing, or sharing the stage, the girls say there are pros and cons to being a sister act. “One advantage is sister telepathy,” Claire says in her Texas accent. “In the unusual event that one of us forgets the words, the other one can pick it up.” Meredith adds, “It comes in handy if we mess up; the other one can cover it up.” Claire says playing together also helps to instill a sense of confidence because “you have a buddy up there.” Another advantage, according to Meredith, is that it makes for good banter on stage. “We can work off of each other, and have a conversation with each other and not just with the audience.”
On the down side, they don’t always agree – especially when they are co-writing a song. They try to be sensitive to each other’s feelings. Meredith says, “We don’t want to be critical of each other. Even though we’re sisters, we’re not made of stone.”
One of the things that was easy to agree on is the name of their act, Flyte Three. It has a lot of symbolism and significance to their family. Claire explains, “Flyte is because we have a lot of aviation in our family. Dad is a pilot, and Meredith soloed a couple years ago.” The family considers “3” to be their lucky number. “It started with our dad. His birthday is August 3rd; he’s the third kid in his family.” Claire says “three” also represents the Holy Trinity. “We like to bring our faith into our music; we definitely wouldn’t be here without that.” She quotes Matthew 18:20, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there in the midst of them,” and says, “So we kind of think He’s here with us even though there’s just two of us on stage.”
In addition to being singer-songwriters, Claire is attending Belmont University, majoring in Entertainment Industry Studies and minoring in Youth Ministry, with a 1 ½ hour commute to school. Meredith, a Belmont graduate, works full-time as a Promotions Coordinator for a record label. “We want to do music as a career, and the other stuff is a Plan B, a safety net.” Her job in the music industry has given her insight regarding the direction she wants to take with her own music. “Working at a label has helped me to see that maybe radio is not where we need to be. Maybe we need to be focused more on touring and building fans in a different kind of way. Record labels are not the path for everybody.”
To promote the release of their new EP on Labor Day, September 3 (there’s that lucky #3 again!), Flyte Three will be touring in California and producing music videos to tell some of the stories behind the songs.
One of those songs, Love is Bound to Come Around, was actually started four years ago. Meredith remembers, “We were driving from Texas to Nashville on one of our trips back and forth, and I was sitting in the back seat looking out the window when I came up with the first line: Long highways that never end always keep me hoping.” She didn’t know what it meant at the time, but “I had it in my phone forever and was sitting in the kitchen, writing a few lines, had a little bit of the chorus, and then Claire came in.” They finished writing the song that night in the kitchen. Listen to Flyte Three perform Love is Bound to Come Around live at Ri'chard's Cafe below.
Flyte Three describes the overall sound of their EP as “full and eclectic.” They hired studio musicians to add to their mandolin and acoustic guitar tracks, taking care that the music complemented their lyrics and harmonies.
It’s been 7 ½ years since the sister duo moved to Music City. Meredith says her mom initially figured the girls would get tired of Nashville after six months and want to move back home. Once the girls were enrolled in college, their mom returned to Texas. But another thing the sisters agree on is, “We’re here to stay.”
FUN FACTS AND TRIVIA
Additional musical influences: James Taylor, Jackson Browne, Tom Petty, Patty Griffin
Claire's hobby is crocheting
Best coffee: (Claire) Frothy Monkey, Pinewood Social
Favorite movie: (Claire) Elf and anything with Denzel Washington
Favorite movie: (Meredith) Ferris Bueller’s Day Off tied with My Fair Lady
Favorite foods: (Claire) Mac and cheese and desserts (Christie’s cookies)
Favorite foods: (Meredith) DiGiorno pizza and Frosted Flakes cereal
Best concert: (both) John Mayer
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