Muscatine’s Heart Society is cruising into new territory in their music careers with a shot at performing with music business legends, including John Prine, Patty Griffin and Lee Ann Womack.
The local duo of Muscatine-born-and-raised Benjamin Eichelberger and former Mississippi resident Teneia Sanders-Eichelberger have been invited to perform on the 11th edition of Sixthman’s Cayamo cruise, an annual music festival held at sea on Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Pearl.
Heart Society beat out hundreds of artists through two rounds of voting in the Sixthman Soundcheck competition, during which they were voted for by the public and the patrons attending the cruise. They will be joined on the performing slate by fellow contest winners Flagship Romance and Caleb Caudle, as well as music legends including Shawn Mullins, and Brandi Carlile.
“We’re absolutely thrilled. It’s an awesome feeling,” Teneia said. “We’re really excited. We can’t wait.”
“It’s such an honor,” Benjamin said. “It’s definitely one of the biggest highlights of our career, getting to perform with Grammy winners and so many legends. Plus, it was really an honor to be voted for by all the people who are actually going to be guests on the cruise. It was cool that they voted for us to perform for them.”
The duo met in 2011 in Phoenix and began collaborating as musicians, before segueing into a romance. Since then, they’ve toured the country and built up a loyal following, particularly in the south and southwest. While making Mississippi their base now, they still have warm feelings for Muscatine and periodically visit to play in Benjamin’s home city.
By playing in front of more than 2,200 new fans and getting to mingle with music legends and their agents and business acquaintances, they’re hoping the cruise is a power shot to the arm for their careers.
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“It’s a lifelong dream for most musicians to share a stage with these songwriting giants and now we have that opportunity,” Benjamin said. “We hope this exposure boosts our career and generates a lot more interest in our upcoming album.”
The new album, “Wake the Queens,” is a rocking-but-soulful statement of female empowerment that is being financed through a crowdfunding campaign, they said. In addition, 10 percent of the proceeds from sales will be donated to Equality Now, an organization fighting for gender equality worldwide.
“This couldn’t have come at a better time in our career,” Teneia said. “We want to carry momentum from the Cayamo announcement into the release of `Wake the Queens.’ We believe now is the time for women to stand in their power, and we want this to be the biggest album we’ve ever made.”
Cayamo sails out of New Orleans to Cozumel, Mexico, and Harvest Caye, Belize, Feb. 4-11, 2018. The ship is currently sold out, but a waiting list is available. Visit www.cayamo.com for more details.
“We’re hoping this is going to be our biggest year ever,” Benjamin said. “We’re really excited and we feel really fortunate to be a part of this.”