Liberty band releases first album
Audrey Moore grew up in the world of music, but she never envisioned being part of a band. Now a student at Liberty University, Moore has become part of Dogwood & Holly, a band that has even recorded an album.
“I never thought that I would record an album or play big shows or anything,” Moore said. “I guess I just didn’t have that much confidence in my abilities.”
The name Dogwood & Holly has been popping up quite frequently around the state of Virginia and other areas. With a debut album and shows in an array of places, the band has been making a name for itself.
Made up of four Liberty students — Audrey Moore, Richie Worrell, Luke Sawyer and Owen Davenport — Dogwood & Holly has a passion for good, honest music and an underlying heartbeat for Christ.
The band members said that their name ties together who they are. On surface level, it is a name that speaks to the home state of each member. The state tree of Virginia is Dogwood, and Delaware’s state tree is Holly. Three members hail from Virginia, and the fourth, Moore, calls Delaware home.
Their name is also a good reflection of the band’s sound. With the traditional bluegrass combination of fiddle, mandolin, banjo and upright bass, the members of the band consider their music to be folk.
“It’s folk, that’s certain, but there are a lot of genres,” Moore said. “Folk is a very broad category. One of our goals as a band is to incorporate all sub genres of folk into our music.”
It was not until after the name was chosen that the band unpacked its deeper meaning. Legend says that the cross of Christ was made out of dogwood, and holly berries traditionally represent the blood of Christ.
“The name kind of has a double meaning because it represents where we’re from, but it also represents what we believe in and what we stand for,” Moore said.
The first time the group played together, they did not know each other at all. A brother-sister dorm event at Panther Falls marked the beginning for the band.
“Richie had brought his guitar and Luke had brought his banjo,” Moore said. “They brought them out and started playing. I had my guitar as well, so I just started to play with them.”
Members of the band also played individually at an Open Mic event. Although the members played separately, it rekindled sparks from Panther Falls.
They made an impression on many in the audience during the next Open Mic Night event, including Tess Coates.
“I was floored. The show gave me chills,” she said. “I love them so much. I love their banjo and their vocals.”
The band really began to formulate at that Open Mic.
“The next day, we all brought our instruments and played some different covers, and then we met again the next day, and the next day, and we just started playing music like every single day, ‘cause we just love to do that,” Moore said.
It is not just the music itself that appeals to the band, but the lyrical aspect of it as well.
“You can say so much in a song, and you can communicate to someone in a way you can’t communicate just in talking to them,” she said.
Moore writes a large portion of the music, but writing has not always come easy for her. Being constantly immersed in the world of music, but never being able to compose lyrics, was a struggle for Moore.
“I sit down and try to write something, and it just never turns out well,” Moore said. “It wasn’t until after high school that I wrote a song that I actually thought had merit to it. God’s just been continuing to develop those skills in me over time.”
This struggle has made Moore understanding of others who are trying to hone their craft.
“I really have not been writing for very long at all, which is why I always try to encourage other people to,” Moore said. “It’s never too late to start learning how to do something.”
What the band communicates through their lyrics is a driving force behind what they do.
“What we’re attempting to do is write music that is accessible to the secular world, that is creative and a little bit unorthodox,” Moore said. “We aren’t a Christian band. We’re Christians in a band.”
Moore said that much of what the band does stems from what music can do for people and the messages it can send.
“People are so heavily influenced by the music that they listen to, and music is such a powerful force,” Moore said. “There are secular artists all over the place that are writing really good music, but it’s presenting a worldview that is contrary to the truth.”
As far as having a future together, the band is open to just about anything.
“We’re not really sure whether it’s going to go anywhere or not,” Moore said. “That’s just kind of how it is in the music industry.”
Despite being unsure of the future, the band has accomplished a lot. Dogwood & Holly released their first album, “Bonaparte,” last summer. Many music videos are also in the works, and they have already performed a number of times.
“As for me, I know I’m always going to be playing music the rest of my life,” Moore said. “It’s just a part of who I am, and writing is kind of how I process my life. So it’s kind of just up in the air, kind of just going with the flow and seeing what God intends to do with it.”