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Tigirlily: North Dakota Grown Country Duo Makes Its Way to the Top

Posted by Kylie Blanchard, Co-Editor 8/24/2021 10:51:34 AM

In the heart of North Dakota, Hazen natives Krista and Kendra Slaubaugh, who form the country duo Tigirlily, started their singing career in their local church and talents shows. “Music was always a passion of ours from the time we could talk,” says Kendra. “Our community was encouraging of our love of music at an early age as well.”

Now based in Nashville, Tenn., the sisters say they haven’t forgot their home state roots, despite this year hitting number one on the music charts, signing a record deal, and releasing their first self-titled EP. “It’s about home, small towns and no matter where you go, you have your roots,” says Krista. “North Dakota gave us all of these opportunities. They saw two young women going for our dreams and said, ‘you can come and play at our school or at our county fair.’”

 

Creating Tigirlily

Taking inspiration from country artists like Rascal Flatts, Sugarland, The Chicks, The Wreckers, and Little Big Town, the duo says they were influenced by bands with big harmony and energy. “We were also inspired to write our own songs at a young age mostly due to Taylor Swift,” says Krista.

She says she began writing songs and playing guitar at the age of 10, and Kendra, two years older, started singing in local competitions and talent shows. “At ages 14 and 16, we officially joined forces and became Tigirlily,” Krista says. “We threw ourselves into playing every county fair and school around North Dakota and the Midwest and started sharing our original music and covers on YouTube.”

The duo chose the name Tigirlily based on a wildflower that showed up first each season in their parent’s flower garden in North Dakota. “We changed the spelling to Tigirlily to add some girl power,” says Krista. “Also, Kendra has more of a ‘lily’ personality, girly and bubbly, while I have more ‘Tigir’ energy, fierce and determined. We chose the name when we were 14 and 16, and it’s stuck with us to this day.”

The entire Slaubaugh family was involved at the start of Tigirlily’s budding career. “Our dad would drive us and our trailer around the state to shows, while our mom would work out all the logistics, and our younger sister, Karli, would help sell merchandise,” Krista says. “Not many people were putting out original music at the time in our state, so we were very lucky to gain support from North Dakota early on.”

She says building a music career came with a learning curve for the young duo. “We were very green and did not know anything about putting together a band or anything about the music industry, but we figured it out along the way.”  

By the time the sisters both graduated from high school, Tigirlily had made several trips to Nashville. In the late summer of 2017, the duo took a leap of faith and moved to Tennessee, diving into the Nashville music scene, playing multiple times per week in downtown Nashville, writing hundreds of songs, and going to college full-time at Belmont University. “We have been fortunate enough to make a living off music the last eight years and have made it our motto to ‘always find a way’ to keep making music. We couldn’t imagine doing anything else,” says Krista.

 

Sweet Success

“We’ve really felt a shift in the past year,” Krista says. “Through the pandemic, we have been connecting with people and a whole new audience through the internet.”

While the Nashville music scene was shuttered due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the duo began posting songs, performances and stories on TikTok and soon had a half-million followers on the social media platform. It was also during the pandemic that the sisters, along with collaborator Zarni deVette, wrote the song “Somebody Does.”

“It was the first time we felt like we had a song that was way bigger than us,” says Krista. “After an extremely hard year for so many people, we felt like that song needed to be put out into the world. If we were ever to have a song go number one, we were so happy that ‘Somebody Does’ was the one to do that. This song serves as a reminder of how much we all matter and mean in this world in an uplifting way, and we’re glad people have received the message with open arms.”

The song hit number one on the all-genre U.S. iTunes song sales chart in February and a record deal from Nashville-based Monument Records soon followed. Tigirlily then released its first self-titled EP in July, on the heels of an announcement of the “Tigirlily” EP’s release date at a special livestream performance at the Laughing Sun Brewery in Bismarck. “Once that one thing falls into place, everything you’ve been working on for eight years aligns,” says Kendra.

The duo also now has a major booking agent and says they are looking forward to performing at larger venues and sharing their music with audiences across the country. Tigirlily also recently guest-starred in an episode of “The Young and the Restless,” and starred in Miranda Lambert’s recently released “Tequila Does” music video.

Tigirlily performed at various shows throughout the summer, including a few in their home state. In July, the sisters headlined a concert at the Burning Hills Amphitheater in Medora, as well as performed on the mainstage at the North Dakota State Fair in Minot, opening for Sawyer Brown. In August, Tigirlily performed in West Fargo, as special guests of BlackHawk. “We have been doing this independently for so long, and now we have the industry behind us, it was the boost we needed,” says Krista.

 

Coming Home

“When we go back home to play, it feels like we a playing for family and friends,” says Krista. “It is the best feeling ever.”

Tigirlily says their North Dakota upbringing played an important role in their success in the music industry. “We learned to always work hard, put others first and to remain humble along the way,” says Krista. “What matters most at the end of the day is people and connecting with one another along the way and making a difference in each other’s lives for the better.”

As young musicians, she says they also learned a valuable lesson to pass onto other aspiring stars. “Practice non-stop, work hard and put the 10,000 hours in. Also find what makes you unique and express that through your music. Focus on making yourself better always.”

Kendra says Tigirlily is thankful for the support they have received from their home state. “North Dakota has supported us for so long now and has seen us grow in this journey. Those are the people who have seen us through this journey and have stuck with us.”

The sisters say they will continue to promote the state as they take their music to the next level. “Everywhere were go, we say ‘we are from North Dakota.’ We are so proud to be from this state and we want to represent North Dakota.”

And as they grow their music and career, Krista says Tigirlily will remain focused on what’s ahead. “We want to enjoy the journey with more music, more touring and more creating.” 

For more information and to view dates and locations of upcoming shows, visit Tigirlily.com or follow Tigirlily on a variety of social media platforms under @Tigirlily. The “Tigirlily” EP is also available for download on iTunes, Apple Music, and Spotify.

Photography by Jared Olsen

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