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Northwest Montana duo creates ‘sister harmonies’ as Denim Gold

by KELSEY EVANS
Whitefish Pilot | July 10, 2024 1:00 AM

If Americana country singer and songwriters Hannah King and Michelle Rivers have one thing in common, it’s that they both know how to “make it” as independent artists.  

But that didn’t stop them from teaming as an official duo dubbed Denim Gold, whose first big performance together will be at the Under the Big Sky Music Festival on Saturday.  

“We have a song on our new record called ‘Make It.’ It’s a tongue-and-cheek song about people who give you career advice... the heart of the song is about our music being authentic to who we are and what we value,” King said.  

“If we can preserve that and make a living doing it, that would be a success,” King said.  

“The whole concept behind the song is that as an independent artist you do have to redefine what it means to make it... It’s not like there’s just a Nashville way to do things,” Rivers added.  “We’re not in Nashville. We’re in Montana, where we want to be. So, the undefinable question is ‘what does making it look like here?’” Rivers said.  

Rivers and King first met in 2019 at Flathead’s Got Talent. Despite the competition, they struck it off when Rivers tried to recruit King to be in her band.  

“I was just so impressed by her songwriting and fiddle skill,” Rivers said.  

King is a Montana born and raised national fiddle champion who writes heartfelt melodies. Rivers, hailing from Tennessee, has genuine country roots. Their overlapping backgrounds, paired with their vocal differences, is where the duo shines.  

“I'm naturally a higher register and Michelle is lower registered ... so there’s different tones that we each hit. So it’s fun to switch off and complement each other. We’ve been told a couple of times that we sound like sister harmonies,” King said.  

As both artists have played independently and together across the valley for years, Denim Gold has been a long time coming.   

The duo said that they made their debut album with harmony and performance in mind.  

“We've written together off and on for years now and I think we both recognize each other's instinctive nature and songwriting. And we recognize when there's a song that is a Michelle song or a Hannah Song. And it's special because we get to help create that for the other person,” King said. 

“Because we've played live together so often, we were imagining these songs on stage and... we were dreaming up arrangement and performing live... and realizing that sometimes there would be a band, but sometimes it would just be us stripped down, so we wanted the songs to be able to stand on their own,” Rivers said.  

As for what’s next for the newly-formed duo, go-with-the-flow is the motto. “All you can do is look to the next opportunity and see where it takes you. We’ll just go for it,” Rivers said.

Denim Gold performs Saturday from 1:30-2 p.m. on the Great Northern Stage at Under the Big Sky in Whitefish. They also perform at an after party at Great Northern Bar Saturday at 9 p.m. Hear sample tracks at underthebigskyfest.com/artist/denim-gold.