By Aaron Brand
TEXARKANA, Ark. — They're not blood relatives, but Erica Butler and Karah Roop are soul sisters who together make up the talented vocal duo Kericah.
Armed with their guitars and powerful voices, the Shreveport area-based duo performs here Saturday night at The Arrow Bar, kicking off a performance at 9 p.m.
They met about seven years ago and started singing a year later, meeting through mutual friends. "I was getting into songwriting at the time, and Karah was already playing guitar and writing songs. We kind of got connected that way," Butler said. "We like the same type of music so it just kind of clicked."
Their songwriting styles mesh, so Erica plus Karah became a good fit. "We like country country music, but not mainstream," Butler said. They prefer Americana, folk — a singer-songwriter vibe.
They play covers across the genres, but their original songs are pretty much country and Americana, Roop said. Artists that appeal to them include Ruston Kelly — "his songwriting is just phenomenal," she says. Add to that Kacey Musgraves, Ashley Monroe, Jason Isbell and Brandy Clark.
As far as their own songwriting, Butler said Roop comes up with strong original ideas, but she may not be able to finish a song. That's where she comes in, getting a tighter melody, she says. It works the other way around, too. They complete each other when it comes to songwriting.
As the one who typically starts the songs, Roop said, "Usually it's like life experiences at the time. Most of the time it's relationship issues. Whatever I'm going through at the time, it will just come to me." For them, the songwriting winds up being 50-50.
As Kericah, they play a variety of venues in the Shreveport scene and now a little bit beyond. "It all depends on the night," Roop said, and after playing shows for five years around there, they're able to keep busy at it. "It keeps us going," she says. Meeting people from elsewhere, they've made contacts and been able to branch into East Texas and now to Texarkana.
Their Kericah goal for 2020 is to branch out and play new venues. "We'll play anywhere," Butler said. "We like restaurants and we like honky-tonks the place doesn't matter. It's the people who are there. That makes the show."
Each show is different, she says, but that is what makes music fun.
"I grew up around music. My mom sang and she was always singing in church," Roop said. Her brother taught himself to play guitar, which made her jealous, she admits, so much so she followed his lead.
"I started teaching myself how to play guitar," she said. That's how it all started for her.
Similarly, Butler started singing at 3 years old in church. "My grandpa was very musical, and it kind of was in our family. So I've always sung, but when I got into my twenties I really wanted to get into songwriting. But I didn't know how to play guitar," she said.
When she was around 25, she knew it was time: guitar lessons. This helps her come up with a concept and transform it into a song.
Often, she'll take the lead on performing songs with a voice that can belt it out. "But it just depends on the song and what it calls for," Butler said. They can switch leads and sing harmony with their night-and-day singing style. Yet, they blend well together.
And being two women in a duo, that makes them distinctive.
"I don't know any other duo women around our area," Roop said, comparing her singing partner's voice to Carrie Underwood. "And I sing more of the man," she said. Butler's voice is more angelic, while Roop's has more of a raspy sound.
"We have a blast doing it," she said. They also do rap covers, pop covers and more. They keep it fun and like to surprise. They'll also play off the crowd.
To hear what makes Kericah so unique, check them out Saturday night at The Arrow Bar.
(Cover: $5. The Arrow Bar is located at 110 E. 36th St. in Texarkana, Ark. More info: 870-772-1171.)