“Missouri meets the U.K. in this male-female duo. Karli’s winsome soprano takes the lead with James’s soft harmony backing her flawlessly on this midtempo melodic breeze. Well produced and radio ready.” - Robert K. Oermann, MusicRow (“Everybody’s Looking for Love")
Dedicated to the craft of songwriting and bringing an undeniable chemistry to the stage, rising country duo Cross Atlantic turned a chance encounter in Nashville into an international friendship, a musical partnership, and ultimately, a happy marriage. Their fine-tuned lyrics are often uplifting and autobiographical, while their inviting sound blends the country music and indie rock that significantly shaped their individual journeys.
Songs like the irresistible “Jigsaw Puzzle” and the romantic “Just a Word” are inspired by their own personal experiences, yet their messages feel universal. Over the last few years, their warm and ear-catching musical blend has drawn attention from Billboard, CMT, and MusicRow, to name a few. Band members Karli Chayne and James Sinclair-Stott are returning in 2021 with “Dear Hometown,” a poignant song about honoring your roots and making your loved ones proud. The new single captures their musical growth and the authenticity of their story.
“I wanted to write a song for them, because I think as you get older, you realize how much of you is ‘you’ because of where you came from,” Karli says. “We started adding images of me growing up – we used to walk to Sonic after school and get strawberry milkshakes and I used to work with my grandpa in the hayfields.”
The duo wrote the song with Porter Howell and Brady Seals, best known to country fans as members of Little Texas. However, as James adds, “Everything about that song is true to Karli. We essentially stopped the write and interviewed Karli about everything about her hometown experience. We could have written 10 or 11 verses to that song.”
Karli grew up in Bolivar, Missouri, while James was raised in England – thus, the name Cross Atlantic. They met in line at a Nashville coffee shop in 2015 when Karli suggested her favorite herbal tea to James, who was ahead of her in line looking for English breakfast tea. They ended up sitting together and shared their musical ambitions with each other. Karli, who was making headway as a solo artist at the time, noted that she loved to write lyrics, while James said he gravitated toward melodies and production. They decided to try writing together sometime.
“There’s nothing like writing songs for me,” says Karli, who sings lead in the duo. “The feeling that I get when I’m putting my feelings or someone else’s feelings on paper, and then turning it into a song – it does it for me. I love writing.”
“We write to be true to ourselves,” James says, “but the really exciting part for me is taking a song we’ve written on acoustic guitar and making that a full-band, full-blown, radio-sounding production.”
James emerged on the English indie rock scene as a teenager, first through singing with his acoustic guitar on YouTube, then by replacing the lead singer of hard rock band Heaven’s Basement. After that, a move from Guernsey to London meant he needed to take on a sales job, which soon overwhelmed his musical ambitions. About three years into it, he decided to quit his junior management position and spend several months in Nashville with his best friend. Their vacation rental was owned by country songwriter Chris Wallin, who generously introduced the guys around town. Four months after the trip ended, James came back on his own.
Meanwhile, Karli Chayne grew up surrounded by entertainment. Her parents met as aspiring country singers in Nashville in the ‘90s, then moved to Branson for a job opportunity with Roy Clark. They grew comfortable there, welcomed their baby daughter, and created the Truman Lake Opry with close family members. Karli was singing by age 2 and even appears on the album her parents recorded for their Christmas shows. Inspired by Taylor Swift as a young girl, she learned a few guitar chords from her dad and wrote a song that same night. She finally persuaded her parents to move back to Nashville when she was 15 and became an early member of the Song Suffragettes, a collective of young female songwriters.
During their first time writing together, Karli sang harmony to James’ lead, creating an unexpected blend that somehow worked, considering her country voice and his English indie rock experiences. Then, James returned to England with the new songs and built the tracks. He recalls, “When I did that -- the sound of the voices, the instrumentation, the sound of the music – I was like, this is what I wanted to make as a solo artist but I hadn’t been quite able to figure it out. But it wasn’t until I got home and had some distance from it that I really realized it.”
Meanwhile, Karli decided to suspend her solo career to hopefully form a duo with James, an emotional decision that her family supported. She sent a very long text to James, who was only a friend and songwriting partner at this point, to ask if he would think about creating a duo with her. He immediately responded with a yes.
After submitting endless forms and fees for 18 months, James was finally granted a Visa and moved to Nashville on January 1, 2017. Still just friends, the full-time relocation allowed them to officially form the duo, continue writing music together, and hone their style and sound. Meanwhile, everyone around them immediately noticed their chemistry on (and off) stage, and their lyrics began to reflect how they actually felt about each other – even though more would pass before they officially became a couple. Finally, in September 2019, Karli and James married and they’re now equally devoted to making a name for themselves in country music.
“It’s all that I know,” Karli says. “I really, really love it, and we’re very committed now. We went through a lot just to become a duo. We really had to work for it. We’re all in and we don’t want to turn back.”