Artist x Artist: Yola and Natalie Hemby in Conversation

Yola Natalie Hemby

For most of the 2010s, singer-songwriters Yola and Natalie Hemby worked in relative obscurity, mostly known by country-music enthusiasts and insiders. But in the last two years, all of that has changed.

Yola’s 2019 country-soul debut Walk Through Fire was a surprise hit, earning the British newcomer four Grammy nominations in 2020. Since then, her career has taken off. Her follow-up, Stand For Myself — one of SPIN’s best albums of 2021 — is in the running for Best Americana Album at this year’s Grammy Awards.

One of the best cuts on Yola’s album, “Diamond Studded Shoes,” is nominated for Best American Roots Song. The song was co-written by Natalie Hemby, a prolific songwriter who has written hits for country stars like Kacey Musgraves and Miranda Lambert. More recently, Hemby has been writing for herself. After joining the Highwomen, her supergroup with Brandi Carlile, Amanda Shires and Maren Morris, in 2019, Hemby released her second solo album, Pins and Needles, last October.

In anticipation of their joint nomination, Yola and Hemby sat down for a wide-ranging discussion for SPIN’s Artist x Artist series, where they talked about what it’s like to write together and their mutual love for Prince.

On our previous Artist x Artist episode, Frankie Cosmos and Lomelda had a lengthy conversation ahead in honor of indie label Double Double Whammy’s 10th anniversary. The duo covered each other on the compilation that coincided with the anniversary. Watch previous Artist x Artist episodes, including Jonah Ray chatting with “Weird Al” Yankovic, Sting with Shirazee, here.

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