"Steeped in the sounds of all-American country and folk, the duo’s music delivers delivers rich harmonics and delicious texture" -The Dayton Philharmonic
Swearingen & Kelli was inevitable. They never set out to form a duo, but when they heard each other perform at a writer's night in the heart of St. Pete at The Hideaway Cafe, their musical course changed. The connection was magnetic, and by late 2013, they were ready to release their debut self-titled album.
They were dangerously close to changing their name, but it didn't feel like an authentic move. "One thing's for sure, we can't be mistaken for another artist." "Maybe a law firm" Kelli jokes.
Songwriting is the most important thing to them. "We aren't the kind of artists that can write about a random topic on demand or with other people...it has to be real." Much to their surprise, they have been able to co-write together seamlessly. Their songs feel like Lucinda Williams, The Eagles, and Alison Krauss got together for a session.
On living and working: "We could live in a tiny house at this point" Swearingen says of their Saint Petersburg, FL based home, where they share the space only with their beloved bengal cat, Diesel. Whether it's spending years on arranging and developing a symphonic pops show or recording, producing and engineering their next album, they are in close proximity at all times, tackling the next major endeavor. "You have to take risks, and you have to be ok with failing" Kelli says. "As an artist, I really am her biggest fan and supporter," Swearingen chimes in, "we always have a trusting foundation to rely on." And yes...they are fully convinced they are soulmates.
AJ Swearingen, born in Bethlehem PA, grew up in a house where the classic country records of Kris Kristofferson, Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson were always spinning. "I love that music, but the folk records of the early '70s like Gordon Lightfoot and Simon & Garfunkel are what really fueled my desire to pursue a life in music." He began playing at thirteen and started performing professionally in his late teens. His acoustic guitar finger style echoes his influences: James Taylor, Paul Simon and Lindsay Buckingham, but his silky, soulful baritone voice is definitely his own. He performed a Simon & Garfunkel Retrospective for many years with his first singing partner, Jonathon Beedle. In 2015, Swearingen & Kelli had an opportunity to reform the show and turn it into the successful Greenwich Village coffee-house style show, "The Music of Simon & Garfunkel", which they perform around the country. It was an easy fit with Kelli's love for Art Garfunkel and her innate ability for intricate harmony.
Jayne Kelli's voice is both husky and sweet, tender and bluesy. When she takes the stage, she's more down-home than diva. Kelli was born in the small country town of Lapeer, MI. She grew up listening to her parents perform songs by John Denver, Jim Croce, and Glen Campbell around the campfire. Jayne began writing and recording her own songs at the age of fifteen. Her first release garnered praise from critics, calling her “a formidable talent with elegantly poetic and emotionally charged songs." Jayne’s song "Sweetness" was chosen as an anthem song for the domestic violence foundations, Victim Services International and Angel Wings International in 2015.
AJ and Jayne have shared the stage with Kenny Rogers, Crystal Gayle, Livingston Taylor, John McCutcheon, Dave Mason among others. Their song "You're Not Here with Me" off their debut album was recorded by folk icon Tom Rush and included on his album What I Know. "Give Everything Up," also on that album, was licensed by DMX. Swearingen & Kelli’s alt-country sophomore album will be released in early 2017.