Together In Life, Love And Harmonious Music: Folk Duo Courtney Lynn And Quinn Celebrate Pride And Partnership
While it’s made some progress over the years, the country and folk music industry has a way to go in supporting LGBT artists and voices. When describing her experience coming out, Grammy Award-winning LGBT musician Brandi Carlile had this to say: “Queer people love country music. We just don’t think that it’s going to open its doors to us. And when it does, it’s wildly satisfying.”
As partners in life, love and harmonious country folk music, Charlotte singer-songwriter duo Courtney Lynn and Quinn recount their winding journey to self-acceptance and artistic togetherness.
"We live in a renovated travel trailer together. We work together. We obviously do life together. People are like, 'Don’t you two get tired of one another?' And our God’s honest answer every time is, 'No, we really don’t!"
On becoming partners in music and in life:
Courtney Lynn: We met nine years ago in 2012 in Los Angeles. We were both couchsurfing in the same home, and we ran into each other. The stars aligned for a couple of months, and we sang a little bit together during that time, but it was really just a friendly relationship.
Years later, we ended up in the same city again and fell in love. We had originally planned to move to Nashville, and Charlotte was just going to be a pit stop. We got to Charlotte and fell in love with the city and community here, so we decided to stay. We started playing open mics together about five years ago with bar and brewery gigs, and it’s evolved from there.
Quinn: The thing that really locked us into Charlotte was when we went to River Jam at the Whitewater Center. We were both like, “Now, that would be a fun place to play!” And then we started immersing ourselves in the Charlotte music scene, connecting with people and clicking. We thought, “Let’s just stay.” The year before COVID-19 hit, we actually played at the Whitewater Center, and it was so much fun.
On embracing identity as an artist:
Quinn: I’m actually a dancer. I grew up dancing and competing, and I actually moved to New York City and Los Angeles to chase dance and audition for commercial industry dance stuff. Along the way, I had always been interested in music and singing.
When I moved to Los Angeles, I felt kind of lost, and I was also discovering certain parts of myself in terms of my sexuality and balancing chasing a dream and figuring out who you are. I found myself in a dark hole and came to the conclusion that I needed to make a complete shift and go into social work. I did that, and I’m really thankful that I did because it’s how I reconnected with Courtney Lynn and fell in love with her and have her as my wife now.
It got me back on track to realize that I’m an artist, through and through. Even if I don’t make it big, even if it’s not the thing that’s going to pay my bills all the time, I’ll always have it in my heart and soul.
Courtney Lynn: I just wanted to see more of the world through music. I grew up in a small town in the Midwest, so I took a leap and moved in with a friend in Los Angeles. My mom likes to tell me this story about how I was 3 or 4 years old and she asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, and I said, “I want to be a singer.” I kind of lost that between ages 4 and 20, but that’s something that’s always been in me. It just took someone pushing me to give it to the world … and that person’s Quinn. (Laughing.)
Quinn: That’s what I am! I’m a pusher. (Laughing.)
On making music as a singer-songwriter duo:
Quinn: When Courtney Lynn was doing her solo debut album "Wander Years," I was singing in another band called After the Rain with our current drummer Steve Cornacchia. We were just going to be another cover band. Courtney was performing solo at the time. But then Steve said, “If you and Courtney work so well together, why isn’t she in our band?” And that was a great question! We had this fear in the beginning that if we crossed that artistry, we would get mad at each other and become a Fleetwood Mac type of thing.
Courtney Lynn: We were trying as hard as we could to protect our artistry, but also our relationship. It’s a gamble. It’s a lot of time spent together. But it started working because we just sounded good together, and it felt right. It felt like an expansion of who we were as creatives. And frankly, I was so very nervous to perform. Quinn is a performer, through and through. She’s done it her entire life. But my hands would shake, and I would just stare at an iPad with chord sheets the entire time. So when she would come sing next to me, it would make me feel better. When I started to relax and feel how good the music sounded, it just made sense to have a supportive partner there.
On what Pride Month means to their music as LGBTQIA+ artists:
Courtney Lynn: In general, the Pride celebration has been an important part of my life. I really, really struggled to come out. I was very involved in church, and I think a lot of queer people have a similar story. When you come from that background, it can be ingrained in you that it’s something to be ashamed of or to hide or to change about yourself. It was a truly difficult time in my life.
I remember going to my first Pride festival when I was 20 years old, and I had never been around so many people who loved and accepted me. I had never been around so many people who were not concerned about my sexual orientation but were in fact celebrating it. It was truly the first time in my life that I felt relaxed about who I was. I could just be. I love Pride, what it does and how it makes people feel.
On a music note, I try really hard not to restrict myself from using the pronouns that I want to use in my songs because I think that’s important. I want people to hear LGBT diversity, and I want people who are like 15 year old to hear a song that represents the true way that they feel and that they can sing that from the top of their lungs and have something they can relate to. If I want to say “she” when I talk about love, that’s what I’m going to do.
Quinn: I have struggled with my family not being so accepting. That’s been a battle that we’ve faced and are still going through, and that’s unfortunate. But I’m grateful that we’ve gotten where we are today. Pride was a safe place for me, a celebration to love myself regardless and a reminder that people are going to make me feel uncomfortable but to not let them get under my skin. For me, it’s a reflection for how far things have come because of celebrations like Pride and people who have been fighting for these human rights and LGBT rights for so long. We’re now able to be legally married and be musicians who people respect with no questions asked. We’re very fortunate, and I’m very grateful for all Pride celebrations in the past and those to come.
I remember one time at the Visulite Theatre, we had an older lady come up to us after our "Remiss" album release. She said, “I want to thank you. My niece has been struggling, and I wasn’t really understanding all the things that happen with coming out. You are such a great example of what that love can look like through your music and being on stage together.”
Music featured in this #WFAEAmplifier chat:
Courtney Lynn & Quinn - “Fire”
Courtney Lynn & Quinn - “Running”
Courtney Lynn & Quinn - “Side Roads”
Courtney Lynn & Quinn - “I Like it That Way”
Courtney Lynn & Quinn - “Five Minutes”
Courtney Lynn & Quinn - “Reminiscing”
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