Maddie Marlow grew up in Sugar Land, Texas, performing in talent shows and writing songs. Meanwhile in Ada, Oklahoma, Tae Dye mastered the national anthem by singing at her older brothers’ baseball tournaments and competition in festivals. At the age of 15, the pair met through their vocal coach during a showcase in North Texas. That meeting led to one of many writing trips together to Nashville, and eventually, an introduction to VP of Big Machine Music, Mike Molinar, and his writer Aaron Scherz. It also led to the formation of the duo Maddie & Tae and later, the creation of hits including "Girl In A Country Song" and "Fly."
“We started writing and recording with Aaron, who would then play the songs for Mike.” Maddie explains. “Mike kept joking, 'You ladies are making it really hard for me to ignore you.' Aaron agreed they were progressing fast and committed to even more time with them. The writing trips increased, as did the hours Maddie and Tae spent writing, rehearsing and recording under the watch of Molinar and Big Machine Label Group’s SVP/A&R, Allison Jones.
"Tae and I hung out, wrote and practiced whenever we could," Maddie recalls. "If we weren’t going to Nashville, I would travel to Oklahoma or Tae would come to Texas. Sometimes we just Skyped.".
On one such trip in February 2013, Maddie and Tae performed for Jones, who had a big piece of advice for them. “She said, ‘If you really want to pursue this, you will need to move to Nashville,'" recalls Tae. "I knew that was what I wanted, but moving to Nashville also meant I had to figure out how to graduate from high school early and Maddie had to turn down college."
"Needless to say, it all worked out," says Maddie. "We were offered a “summer camp” publishing deal and five days after I graduated, I’m like 'See y’all, I’m going to Nashville!'"
The result is an organic, rootsy sound fueled by the girls’ upbringing and musicianship — each play guitar onstage, with Maddie picking up the mandolin from time to time — and mirroring the gumption and energy of the early Dixie Chicks albums. “We’re really inspired by ’90s country,” says Maddie who, like Tae, was born in ’95. “Growing up, we were listening to ‘Cowboy Take Me Away’ and ‘Wide Open Spaces,’ so we always gravitate towards that.”
While their music reflects their easygoing, energetic personalities, the duo found as they wrote together they shared personal, emotional experiences as well.
“Songwriting helps me heal,” admits Maddie, who wrote her first song at 14. “There was this beauty-queen bully from high school who sent my friends and I home in tears plenty of times. In order to get over it I had to write this song. I figure with bullies you’ve gotta stand up to them with whatever you got. So I brought in the idea for our song ‘Sierra.’ “I started singing ‘I wish I had something nice to say … 'and Tae and Aaron lit up and ran with it!”
“We are girls with something to say,” Maddie says. “We’re young, but that doesn’t mean anything. We’ve got a new, different perspective that we think is relatable.”
“Girl empowerment is so important to us,” Tae says. “Confidence is attractive.”
“We also have a vulnerable side that you hear in the music,” Maddie clarifies. “We’re not like, ‘We’re girls and we’re taking over the world!’ We’re just saying a little something different.”
Maddie & Tae made their Grand Ole Opry debut September 23, 2014. As all of their dreams continue to come true — just slightly ahead of schedule — the teenagers aren’t afraid to put more hopes out into the universe.
“We are girls with something to say.”