The incomparable harmony of soaring, sultry vocals, prolific lyrics and unique fusion of Americana, bluegrass, R&B, and roots music makeup the “heartfelt country soul” Underhill Rose has become known for. The Asheville, N.C. based trio is led by Eleanor Underhill, an accomplished lyricist and banjo picker, with an alluring, smoky voice and Molly Rose, the powerful songstress with a soaring vocal range and dazzling stage presence. The addition of bass player Salley Williamson produces an impressive third harmony to this lovely trinity. Their unmatched sound is captured on their self-titled, debut CD.
Molly and Eleanor's strong musical partnership began as front-women for the Barrel House Mamas and they continue to rise to the top of the southern music scene. Since forming in 2009, Underhill Rose has shared the stage with the likes of singer/songwriter Jim Lauderdale, Kevn Kinney of Drivin' N Cryin', Blackberry Smoke, Col. Bruce Hampton, Larry Keel, and the Everyone Orchestra featuring Jon Fishman and Papa Mali. The ladies have appeared at the famed Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion, The Warren Haynes Christmas Jam, and have also earned a coveted showcase performance at the famed Grove Park Inn. A fresh sound, visually appealing performances and an extraordinary ability to blend a multitude of musical genres makes Underhill Rose a desirable addition to festivals, theaters, and listening rooms across the country.
Eleanor Underhill - banjo, harmonies, lead vocals
Eleanor Underhill grew up surrounded by folk music. At any given time, her mother would practice a repertoire of ballads for the taverns of nearby Colonial Williamsburg or the record player would be spinning with the harmony-laden songs of Simon and Garfunkel; Peter, Paul and Mary; Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young; and the Beatles. She was first taught how to play the piano at age 6 and, in fifth grade, she picked up the trombone and played first chair for many years in the concert, marching and jazz bands. But, she didn’t get around to stringed instruments until her early teens, eventually composing her first song on guitar at 14. Her unique musical style and prolific writing ability has generated significant attention, due to the fact that her music speaks to the general American condition, while maintaining a large dose of self-reflection. Her unique talent has been regularly awarded since childhood, earning her a Best Solo Award at a regional competition when she was 12. More recently, she won top honors at Asheville’s Songwriting Idol contest in 2007.
Eleanor attended Warren Wilson College, where she further developed her taste for folks and mountain music. It was there that she became interested in playing the banjo and met her future musical partner, Molly Rose, on the Sunderland Lawn. These events led to the formation of the regional standout group the Barrel House Mamas. After some modest success, including an audition for Fox television and a three-year stretch touring the Southeast, the band parted ways.
Ultimately, Molly and Eleanor agreed to take to the stage as a duo, launching Underhill Rose in 2009. Since forming the band, Eleanor has helped cement the group as a staple in the southern music scene, by uniquely meshing her influences into on beautiful sound. Along with Molly Rose, she has appeared at Matt Stillwell’s Shinefest, played an improvisational set with Jon Fishman of Phish and taken the stage regularly at the famed Grove Park Inn. The first half of the 2012 Underhill Rose tour has taken Eleanor as far north as West Virginia and as far south as Jacksonville, Florida. She is excited about the summer and looking forward to playing a number of shows and festivals in the Southeast, including the Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion in September.
In May of 2011, the group released their self-titled, debut album that successfully captures the band’s unmatched harmonies and unique blend of multiple genres. Eleanor composed more than half of the songs on the release, which can be heard on radio stations across the country and on Pandora radio. The album was also ranked in the top 20 for 2011 regional releases by WNCW in North Carolina.
In addition to her musical accomplishments, Eleanor is a published illustrator and has recently completed her second book. She is also an environmental educator and is currently seeking her North Carolina teaching certificate in middle school science. She plans to continue studying music, while polishing her skills as a songwriter, instrumentalist, vocalist, and producer. She remains steady in her mission to meld music and science education, ultimately making the world a more livable place.
Molly Rose - guitar, lead vocals
Born in Douglasville, Georgia, Molly Rose is the child of a musical family. Her father is a classically trained musician, her mother sings the blues, and her grandfather was a minister: the perfect combination for raising a performer. Growing up, family gatherings would often feature a musical jam, where everyone would sing and play an instrument. Early on, her grandfather’s small church exposed her to a large amount of singing and performing in front of people, as well.
As a young child, Molly loved to sing and always had a little tune to sing, whether it was practicing imitating her favorite singers or simply coming up with her own. Her abilities developed once she discovered the Linda Ronstadt, Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris fronted group, Trio. Molly was impressed by Ronstadt’s clarity and emotional style of singing and she began to mimic what she heard. That led her to the early development of her subtle, yet powerful sound and ability to hear and sing harmonies off-the-cuff.
A compliment to Molly’s Linda Ronstadt influence was Bonnie Raitt. As she began to discover the blues, Raitt’s music became a regular staple on the playlist because of the emotional vocal style, backed by the slide guitar. At this point, Molly realized that good singing was not about perfection: it was about the emotion coming through the voice(s) in the song. At 17 and a freshman in college, she heard singer-songwriter Gillian Welch and fell in love with her “rootsy” and seemingly simplistic sound. Molly has incorporated that into her music ever since.
With a number of substantial writing credits to her names, she didn’t record her first song, Molly’s New Blues, until she was 21. Her songs are introspective and the heartfelt, personal nature of her writing tends to prolong the writing process as she works on several timeless songs at once.
Molly’s first experience with the guitar was on her mother’s classical guitar at the age of 14. She resisted playing seriously for many years, just learning a few chords here and there to sing songs with friends. But, when her father gave her a guitar for her 18th birthday, it was a natural fit and she dug right in. The time coincided with her move to college and she learned to play with the help of new friends she met there. Many late nights were spent by bonfires in the woods, near a small pond with a great view of the stars, or in a dorm stairwell, where Molly could be found learning to pick out a tune on her guitar and harmonizing with other singers. During this time, she built her stage presence and gained the confidence to step in the lime light.
Her time at Warren Wilson College brought about the formation of the well-known group, the Barrel House Mamas. This band was formed with, among others, Eleanor Underhill. The group garnered a wealth of success and they appeared in states throughout the southeast. The band impressed many audiences, from festival-goers to Fox television executives. After the band folded, Eleanor and Molly maintained their harmonious relationship and created Underhill Rose.
Since forming in 2009, Underhill Rose has appeared throughout the Southeast with special appearances at Matt Stillwell’s Shinefest and a showcase performance at Asheville’s Grove Park Inn. Their first album was released in May of 2011, featuring many notable songs from Molly, including 2000 Miles and the heart-wrenching track, Bridge. Both songs can be heard on radio stations across the country and the song Learn, on which she sings lead, was recently accepted by Pandora radio.
As her star has risen in the music business, Molly Rose has continued to stay true to herself, while utilizing her talents to impress audiences throughout the Southeast. Her development as an artist has solidified her confidence as a stage performer, singer, songwriter, band member, and guitar player.
When Molly is not performing with Underhill Rose, she appears regularly at Biltmore Estate as a solo performer. She is also an extensive traveler and prefers to seeks out locations where English is a secondary language. If she can’t hop on a plane, you can usually find her in the nearest library, hunting new and old music, or tending to her vegetable and herb garden. If you ever get the chance to try her picked okra, you are a lucky person! She has 6 brothers and sisters and is very happy to be involved in the lives of her two nieces.
Salley Williamson - upright bass, backing vocals
The third and newest member of Underhill Rose, bass player Salley Williamson, hails from the Lowcountry of South Carolina, near the banks of the Edisto River. Her father is a farmer aswell as an Alligator Control Agent for her home state, which meant her childhood involved riding tractors and catching alligators with dad. Her grandmother was an opera singer, and her mother sang every Sunday with the church choir and played the guitar. Subsequently, music was always a part of her life growing up, with the sounds of Paul Simon, Linda Ronstadt, Bonnie Raitt, James Taylor, and a plethora of country music filling the air.
It was during spontaneous hunting trips with her father to Argentina, New Zealand and South Africa that Salley realized her love of meeting new people and traveling. These trips eventually led her to Montana, where she took up residence for 10 years and earned her Bachelor’s of Arts in Social Work, as well as a Master’s of Fine Arts in Integrated Arts Education and an additional Master’s of Education. It was through her travels that she completed her thesis, following a trip to Mali, West Africa, on the art of West African dance. Salley’s love of education inspired her to lead art programs throughout Montana for elementary school students. She also worked with the Migrant Education Program as a teacher and a traveling tutor. Her passion, and desire to be closer to her family, brought her to Asheville where she is honored to be work with the Open Hearts Art Center, an organization dedicated to “serving adults with a variety of challenges through recognizing and sharing their creative spirit.”
Despite taking piano lessons at a young age and singing with both her church and school choirs, Salley didn’t learn an instrument until graduate school. It was in 2003 that she decided to take upright bass lessons, recognizing her fondness for the bass line of the music she loves. Salley’s stand-up bass training, which continues to this day, led her to join the band Hay Sugar. Along with her mentor and musical influencer “Tall” Paul Leach and his family, she learned the joys of playing in a band and shared the stage with the likes of Doc Watson, the Carolina Chocolate Drops and the Kruger Brothers. Following the dissolution of the band, Salley took the opportunity to join Eleanor Underhill and Molly Rose, making Underhill Rose an all-female trio.
Salley feels very lucky to be involved with Underhill Rose and is most excited about touring, meeting new people and building a fan base. The first half of 2012 has been an adventure and she is beginning to write her own music for the group. In her spare time, she remains an avid traveler, having visiting the majority of the United States and over 13 countries, including a modeling stint in Milan, Italy. She lives on a small farm outside of Asheville where she raises chickens and grows vegetables that she sells at the local farmer’s market.