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Singled Out: Jon Tyler Wiley & His Virginia Choir


Keavin Wiggins | 04-09-2021

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Jon Tyler Wiley photo credit: Erin Wiley courtesy Skye Media

Jon Tyler Wiley & His Virginia Choir released their new single "Strong" today (April 9th) and to celebrate we have asked the band to tell us about the song. Here is the story:

Jon Tyler Wiley (guitars and vocals): The beginning of "Strong" came to me during the pandemic. Up 'til that point, I had been at home, not getting to play shows, generally being depressed and therefore writing some dark and weird songs. I wanted to write something happier, if for no other reason than my own personal therapy, and I had the idea of writing about my wife. I made a demo of a guitar melody and sent it to our rhythm section to see where they took it. It was our first time writing a song as a unit, and we weren't even in the same room, because of the pandemic. It was all done via emailing demos back and forth.

Thomas Johnson (keys): I remember listening to the song for the first time, and it reminded me of Jon's wedding. I wanted my piano parts to reflect that upbeat nature of the wedding. I added some honky-tonk influenced piano that channeled that sense of celebration and excitement. Jon was a little surprised but ultimately thought they worked with the song.

Brian "Piper" Barbre (drums): "Strong" is a song that has so much dynamic movement and changes between different "feels" that I thought it needed an orchestral style percussion part and not a standard beat on the kit. As a snare drum maker, I'm biased towards more snare, but "Strong" just needed to go the other direction. Shaker and tambourine play off each other taking turns supporting the feel of the time with strong kick drum accents and a classic Americana four-on-the-floor pulse. The cymbal swells had to be there to drive the crescendos that are supported by the syncopated heartbeat of the floor tom. It's refreshing to play a drum part with no snare backbeat and no sticks. I wish I had had a Brian Wilson-style percussion section on this one!

Eddie Dickerson (fiddle): I think this is my favorite arrangement we've done as a band. The music supports the lyrics in a very powerful way. To me, I can't imagine a better way of executing this song.

Joanna Smith (bass): This one is definitely a favorite of mine. With the percussion keeping a steady rhythm, I was able to play a more bouncy and almost melodic bass line that keeps the song moving while contributing to its lighthearted feel. I love that while it is Jon's specific story, the lyrics are still relatable for everyone to enjoy.

Hearing is believing. Now that you know the story behind the song, listen and watch for yourself below and learn more about the band here


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