When Arkansas singer/songwriters Justin Patterson and Laura Lynn Danley formed the folk/Americana duo, Ten Penny Gypsy, in 2016, both were already established solo artists who had worked together since 2009 but not technically as a duet. The decision to officially unite set them on a new and exciting trajectory. They have since released two critically acclaimed full-length albums, won five Best Video awards at independent film festivals, and been nominated for seven Arkansas Country Music Awards.
“We met at a songwriter festival in Hot Springs, Arkansas,” says Justin. “We both had our own separate solo things going on and didn’t know each other. All sorts of things happened at this festival and we ended up basically behind the same microphone singing harmony for another friend together, and it just kind of clicked from there. We started writing and performing together not long after that.”
When asked about their solo vs duet work, they speak of a melding of influences that they both see in a “whole is greater than the parts” fashion. Laura says, of Justin, “This isn’t my quote but they say if Gordon Lightfoot and James Taylor had a love child that would be Justin Patterson. And then you throw in my Karen Carpenter and Joni Mitchell, as well as maybe my gospel beginnings, and…it organically became this Americana sound.”
The pair’s second album, Fugitive Heart (2020), which also features the talents of award-winning guitarist Buddy Case, is an eclectic, upbeat combination of Americana and country/blues sounds. Dropping in the midst of the pandemic, the album’s themes of uncertainty and separation resonated deeply with listeners. It ended up generating a #1 song on the iTunes Country Sales chart in South Africa (“Your True You”), and award-winning, short form music videos for the singles.
Ten Penny Gypsy’s most recent release, the single “River N’ Me,” is an “outtake” from the last album, cowritten with Buddy Case. Although it didn’t quite fit sound-wise with the record, after performing it live, the song has become a fan favorite.