Interview with 'Redhead Express'
- Brett and Apryll Walker -
I accidentally stumbled upon this fascinating family during my research for my redhead website and what a discovery! -- time for an interview...
The 'Redhead Express' is the name of this large family band -- playing music from the 1950s and 1960s as well as country, traditional, bluegrass, old-time songs, and original music. They sing and play a variety of acoustic instruments.
They are originally from Alaska but now live in Tennessee. They’ve played in Branson, MO, as well as performing at festivals, churches, opry houses, and more!They are currently touring the country and are having quite an adventure criss-crossing the country. Their own website is colorful and informative with lots of photos, a blog, videos, music clips, fan club, and products like CDs and t-shirts, and tour information that you can check out.
This large, talented family includes -
- Brett and Apryll Walker - the parents, married for over 20 years. The Dad, Brett, sings as well as drives the family’s RV bus. The Mom, Apryll, grew up in a musical family, playing piano and violin. She sings and plays rhythm guitar. Like her mom, she always wanted a family band and is living her dream.
- Kendra - age 20. She sings, plays lead guitar and writes music.
- LaRae - age 19. She plays banjo and sings, plus is famous for her smile.
- Alisa - age 17. She sings and plays mandolin and a hot fiddle. She apparently also can yodel!
- Meghan - age 14. She’s the steady bass player for the band and sings too of course.
- Sean, Joseph, and Ammon - ages 11, 9, and 7, respectively. These young men are also being known as ‘The Walker Boys’ -- they can of course sing harmonies and play instruments (fiddle, mandolin, banjo, and bass).
- Cocoa - Cocoa is the family’s chocolate Labrador, who I've heard assumes everyone has come to see him, plus I wouldn't be surprised if he sings too!
Okay, I have my favorite beverage, grab yours, and let's get on with interview...!
1) Apryll and Brett, how did the two of you meet?
APRYLL -- We met at College. I had lost my Mom, and Dad had just retired. He couldn’t stay in the house we all grew up in any more- too many memories- so we moved out west, and I met Brett that weekend at a clothing store (he was the salesman). He was a great salesman… I never made it to college! Got married instead.
BRETT -- I was a salesman in a men’s clothing store, and Apryll was shopping for clothing for the men in her sister’s school choir. She was one of those aggressive, new age women, and she asked me out. Later, she asked me to marry her. Just kidding! :) She was with two other girls at the time; and, when I called to confirm the order they put on hold, I didn’t know who I was talking to, but the woman on the other end of the line asked me out. In a sense, it was a blind date because I didn’t know who I had just said yes to. I was hoping it was the pretty one. I got lucky - it was Apryll.
2) Originally from Alaska, how did your families end up there in the first place? Do you still have family members in Alaska
APRYLL -- I have family in Alaska, and they always talked about how it was the only place to live. We visited once, fell in love with it, and moved up there about 12 years ago.
BRETT -- I had worked there out of high school on a fishing boat, years ago. I had always wanted to live there, but I didn’t think Apryll would want to. When changing careers, my wife said, "If you’re going to change careers anyway, why don’t we move?" She suggested Alaska, and I had a job within a week!
3) Regarding your recent move from Alaska to Tennessee, I read that the whole family "prayed and decided that’s what God wants us to do." The group has also recorded several Christian song titles. How important is your faith in God, and how has it helped you through all the recent changes?
APRYLL -- Our faith in God is the driving force in our life. With faith in Him, we are able to pray, make decisions that we feel led to do, and move ahead with His blessing.
BRETT -- My faith in God is extremely important. God grants me a peace of mind and wisdom in handling situations that are beyond me. Through prayer and faith, I am able to be more clear on my direction. I am able to anticipate problems and, through my faith in God, I have access to infinite creativity.
4) Was there a bit of culture shock with the family moving from the Alaskan climate and culture to the southern US in Nashville, Tennessee?
APRYLL -- Hmmm...the biggest culture shock was learning to deal with humidity. Other than that, we love Tennessee.
BRETT -- It’s certainly a lot warmer, and the humidity is killing me. The fish are smaller here. :) In fact, the fish we catch out here are bait in Alaska. The people everywhere we’ve gone have been great. Certainly people in the South are warm and gracious and we’ve found that everywhere we go, including Alaska. People reach out to us, share with us, and are generous with us. Culturally it has not been a huge stretch.
5) Starting a family band is quite an undertaking! Is it true this has been Apryll’s dream? How did this idea start?
APRYLL -- My mother always wanted a family band -- 10 kids and all are musically gifted, but we could never get it together as a group. We were all busy doing our own thing. I didn’t want that to happen in my family, so I decided to fulfill my Mom’s dream. It has become mine, and I LOVE it.
BRETT –- Apryll has wanted to do something more serious with this for years, but I pushed her back because it wasn’t my dream. I know her mother had expressed desire to do something with their musical family. She always wanted to be in the limelight but never got to do that. Maybe in a way that did inspire Apryll to have that similar desire.
The family band is a large undertaking and, if not for the fact that it was everyone else’s dream now, we couldn’t do it and we wouldn’t be out on the road. My oldest daughter, Kendra, had also always dreamed of being a Broadway or Nashville star. She’s been singing non-stop since she was 4. I think it’s kind of rare that we all want to do this. Some family bands have some people for it, and others are just along for the ride.
6) Who picked the name of your music group: "Redhead Express"? ...and of course I have to ask WHO are the redheads in the group?
APRYLL -- My brunette daughter, Alisa, chose the name. :) Funny, isn’t it? Five of the kids are redheads. I USED to be a redhead but lost it when I started having kids. Brett has a few red hairs in his beard even!
BRETT – What my wife said...
7) Like many parents of redheads, it was a big surprise in the delivery room when the little newborn has red hair! Were you surprised as well? Who else in your family tree has red hair?
APRYLL -- I was SO surprised when I kept having one redhead after another!!!! All 10 of my siblings are some shade of red, and my Mom had auburn hair.
BRETT -- No one on my side has red hair, so you bet I was surprised!
8) Have the kids ever had a problem or issues dealing with teasing because of their red hair? Any advice for those experiencing teasing?
APRYLL -- Everyone wishes they had my kids’ hair. It’s the ‘in’ thing nowadays. I, on the other hand, was called ‘carrot top’ and ‘pumpkin head’ as a kid.
BRETT -- I think the teasing is changing. In general, redheads are more accepted than when I was younger. Our kids have mostly experienced compliments. Nowadays, different is good.
9) Sounds like it was a quick progression from doing several performances a year and now to going on tour! How do you manage the busy touring schedule, school, practices, family life, and alone time while on the road and still keep your sanity?
APRYLL -- Alone time is sometimes a trip to the grocery store. Or we’ll park at a mall and tell everyone to disperse and do what they want for awhile. Or we might go to a park or campground, and everyone disperse that way. Schooling gets done in the morning first thing, then practice. The day always starts with scripture time as a family and prayer. Family life is ongoing, since we’re all together ALL the time. :)
BRETT -- Part of it is that everybody in the family seems to have the same dream, so - yes, it’s busy -- but everyone has bought in. There is no dissatisfaction in what we’re doing, just an excitement for the next step.
Apryll and I get alone time once a week. We go on a date. The older girls get to break away whenever they want to -- movie, shopping, whatever they want to do. Sometimes we just pull over and let everyone out at a mall or a park, historical site -- and let ‘em all go! Recently we hiked the Colorado National Monument. Things like that.
We have homeschooled since day 1. The kids know they have to get up and get their school done before they do anything else. In reality, we have more time than we did before road life because we don’t have extracurricular activities with kids running in different directions. In a lot of ways our life is simpler than it used to be.
10) On your website blogs, I see tour photos of people chosen "Our Newest Honorary Member of the Redhead Express" and wearing a curly red wig -- Looks like great fun! How did this all start?
APRYLL -- I was trying to figure out a way to have audience interaction in our shows, and it seemed natural to do something with a red wig. Alisa yodels, so we thought we’d do a skit, having her teach the audience to yodel, then pick the best yodeler and don them an honorary redhead. It’s stuck for 2-1/2 years now!
BRETT -- What Apryll said...
11) I understand the family is now blessed to have a large RV motorhome for touring, which I assume makes traveling much easier! What’s the most challenging thing about touring? What’s the most enjoyable thing about touring?
APRYLL -- The most challenging thing about touring is break downs. We lose a trailer tire, hitch breaks, RV slides or jacks get stuck.. things happen. We have NEVER missed a show yet…..knock on wood! The most enjoyable thing about touring would have to be all the friends we make around the country, and seeing new places, trying new foods, enjoying cultural differences around the country.
BRETT -- Driving for me can be a little tedious, but it’s also enjoyable because I get to see the land and explore different parts of the country.
12) As parents with a large family, can you give your 2 top tips on how to keep one’s family close and have good relationships?
APRYLL -- How to keep a family close: Get rid of excess baggage in your life, and stop doing so much. Do things together as a family more, and support each other. People in general today feel they have to do, do, do.. sports, music, school activities, scouts, church activities, job, civic responsibilities. It’s all good. But too much good can be bad. Choose the best of the good things to do, and do more of them together. And stay close to God. Make Him first in your life, and all else will follow and fall into place as He sees fit.
BRETT -- You know, my great-grandfather believed life on a farm was the best way to raise a family. Everyone in the family was doing the same thing together. So maybe one thing I would say is -- consider finding something that everyone in the family could enjoy doing together. Simplify your life and quit going 100 different directions.
13) Future plans for the family?
APRYLL -- We are now in Nashville, pursuing a country career. Working with a producer on artist development at the moment. When the time is right, we’ll cut a record and go for radio play. We feel the country market is ready for some good, wholesome acoustic country music.
BRETT -- We are in Nashville, working on a country album, doing artist development to help our sound get to a radio quality/national level. Meanwhile, we’re touring as a family all over the country and perfecting our show there. It might be fun to do a TV show of some kind. Who knows? Just keeping our mind open to the possibilities and having fun while doing it!
Again, thank you Brett and Apryll for the interview! I really enjoyed hearing what they had to say and appreciate them sharing about what goes on behind the scenes. I admit it tired me out just trying to imagine their busy schedule! Not many families could do what they are doing and I really admire them pursuing their dream as a family. Also, I think they have their priorities right as well, as they put God first in their lives.
Well, I do hope you were able to glean some valuable information, insight, and advice from the Walkers. Again, thanks to them for taking time away from their busy performance schedule and family time to do this. I expect we'll be hearing more about members of this unique family in the future. Wishing them success and safe travel!!
Visit their 'Redhead Express' website.Visit their Facebook pages.Visit their Myspace page.
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