published Friday, November 18th, 2011

Duo behind year's most-played country song perform at Track 29


What: Thompson Square featuring The Dirt Drifters.

When: 8 p.m. Saturday.

Where: Track 29, 1400 Market St.

Admission: $23.

Phone: 521-2929.


When the co-lead singers of Thompson Square first heard "Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not?" it was like hearing someone speak with their voice.

"It almost seemed like something we would have written," said Keifer Thompson of the song by David Lee Murphy and Jim Collins that made them overnight country superstars this year.

"It sounded like our story and fit in our vein of style," he continued. "It seemed like a hit to us, and we had to record it. It touched us like it did everyone else."

By the time Thompson Square performed "Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not" at this year's Country Music Association Awards in Nashville, it had reached the No. 1 spot on Billboard's Hot Country chart and had been certified as the year's most-played country music song.

Along with a pair of CMA Award nominations, their debut at the Grand Ole Opry and three singles off their self-titled 2010 album, 2011 has been a banner year for the husband-and-wife duo.

Despite their accolades this year, Thompson Square was founded in 2006, five years after Keifer and Shawna met after moving to Nashville from Oklahoma and Alabama.

Initially, each had plans to pursue solo careers, but when they met a week after their arrival, sparks flew.

"It was definitely relationship first," Shawna said. "We did meet that night and have literally been together every night since that night. Love came first."

They continued for some time on the solo path but eventually opted to share the stage, performing at low- or no-pay jobs for several years around Nashville.

That decision made all the difference, Keifer said.

"Being apart and doing our own things ... we just weren't happy," he said. "We were happy doing music, and the relationship wasn't suffering, but it wasn't as good without her."

Although Thompson Square is just now receiving widespread attention, neither of its members said they feel entitled to their accolades.

"I think you work hard to chase a dream down, and if you get some accolades along the way, that's gravy," Keifer said.

"Honestly, Keifer and I love what we do and are happy to be able to do what we love to do every day," Shawna added. "All the other stuff, like he said, is extra."

about Casey Phillips...

Casey Phillips has worked as a features reporter in the Life department since May 2007. He writes about entertainment, consumer technology, animals and news of the weird. Casey hails from Knoxville and earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts in German from Middle Tennessee State University, where he worked as the features editor for the student newspaper, Sidelines. Casey's writing has earned numerous accolades, including first and second place ...

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