“I get called Abigail a lot,” says Kelli Redmond, mixed-media artist and lead singer in the duo Letters To Abigail. Growing up in Fairview, Redmond loved sports — softball, basketball, swimming, waterskiing. She began to find her singing voice in the choral program at A.C. Reynolds High School, and still mines lyrics from songs she wrote on different lifeguard jobs.
She never had an outlet for those songs until meeting her partner, singer/guitarist James Harrell, while bartending at The Back Room in Flat Rock, and forming Letters To Abigail. LTA is now raising funds to record a sophomore album at Echo Mountain in Asheville.
When she’s not performing around the region, Redmond, under the business My Cat Lil Studio, creates upcycled-art pieces, including jewelry and hand-dyed slip dresses. On stage, she almost always sports a pair of stylish white boots.
When did you start writing songs?
When I was a lifeguard, there was a lot of time to just sit. I’d kind of get in my own head and think of melodies and songs. I started writing things and they always had kind of a melody behind them, but I didn’t know where that was going. It’s interesting to look back on stuff like that because your ideas are so much different, but you kind of have the basic thing inside your brain that you live by.
The acoustic open mic you started after The Back Room closed is still going.
The Back Room was absolutely influential. I had stage fright so bad, and I finally did get up there and sing, but I was always with other people. So I started a porch-picking at my house. Dave Desmelik, Taylor Martin, Amanda Platt — lots of fantastic songwriters and pickers and players came to my porch. We moved it to Red Step Art Gallery and it became a wonderful, amazing thing. It’s now in its eighth year and is at Black Bear Coffee.
Did you meet James at an open mic?
I heard James’ voice when I was working at The Back Room, and was kind of blown away. Every time I heard him sing I was like, “Man, I could harmonize real well with that guy.” I invited him over to my porch-picking and we started working on stuff. And James and I became Letters To Abigail as a duo.
The name of the group infers something very personal.
We do write fiction, and we write some murder songs, things we’d never do, but we also write from our hearts and real relatable stories.
Who are your favorite songwriters and why?
Ryan Adams, Emmylou Harris, Jason Isbell. I’m a big fan of Slaid Cleaves. For me, they’re just so believable. What they’re singing about might not be a piece of a puzzle out of their lives, but they certainly make you think that it is. It’s a whole package. The music matches the lyrics, and how the production works into the lyrics is so important in the believability of the song and how it comes across.
Letters To Abigail performs at Sanctuary Brewing (147 First Avenue East, in Hendersonville) on Friday, October 2, at 7:30pm; for Music In The Woods at Paris Mountain State Park in Greenville, SC, on Saturday, October 3, at 1pm, 864-244-5565; and at Zeke’s Greenside Tavern at Etowah Valley Golf Club & Lodge on Saturday, October 10, at 6pm. www.letterstoabigail.net