The bond between siblings cannot be rivaled; not only do they know all the family secrets and idiosyncrasies, they share in triumphs as well as challenges and, when talent runs in the family, the stage. Magnolia, Texas’ acoustic country duo Sibling Rivalry showcases this dynamic at its best as vocalist Olivia Butaud, 15, and older brother/lead musician, 19-year-old Mitchell Butaud, perform show after show and pursue a music career that will hopefully span a lifetime.
Influenced by the styles of Little Big Town, The Band Perry and Zac Brown Band, Sibling Rivalry formed in January of 2011. As the lead singer, Olivia commands the stage with a unique vocal style and plays guitar and piano while Mitchell brings out the full sound by providing harmony vocals and playing guitar, fiddle, mandolin and piano, the latter two of which he is self-taught.
“We are siblings but we look nothing alike or act anything alike. We have opposite personalities so we approach things differently but, we mesh when we perform together,” says Olivia. “Mitchell is the musician with the ‘ear’ and I am the ‘voice.’ I am outgoing on stage and draw in the crowd whereas Mitchell is quieter, grooving to the music and impressing everyone as he moves from instrument to instrument, all the while singing harmony with me.”
As an acoustic group, Sibling Rivalry moves away from the norm by choosing a more organic, stripped down style than most of their peers. In doing so, they feel their music and its relatable lyrics will provide more of an emotional impact and bring fans into the fold with them as they continue on this journey.
“We have our own style of music and we feel it sets us apart because it is in a more intimate setting,” said Mitchell. “Olivia is so young yet has such a mature and powerful voice that it is surprising to people seeing us for the first time. Our ability to play multiple instruments also gives the audience more of a variety.”
Honing their craft for the better part of ten years, Sibling Rivalry has worked with and been mentored by instrument instructors from Arbor Music; songwriters Marcus Eldridge and Kyle Hutton; Vocal Coaches Tom McKinney, Mary Allen-Keating, Neeki Bey and Nashville’s Annie Lindsay; and A&R and Development representative/Manager Jake McKim. As a result of this dedication to their music, Sibling Rivalry has played at venues around their hometown and across the state such as House of Deréon, Main Street Crossing, Dosey Doe The Big Barn, Dosey Doe Music Cafe, Genuwine, Spurs, Bulldogs Sports Pub & Grill, Texas World Speedway and Bernhardt Winery. Nashville venues include the famed Bluebird Café, Soulshine Pizza Factory, Commodore Grille and The Row Kitchen & Pub. They also garnered national attention as one of 15 bands to compete on the COZI TV music reality show "Next Great Family Band.”
Sibling Rivalry is also participating as student representatives for “Safe School Helpline,” an anti-bullying campaign and crisis hotline being put into place on elementary and high school campuses across the nation through One Call Now, a mass notification service. Olivia’s self-penned song, “No Medicine Can Heal,” which describes a young girl’s issues with a student tormenter, has been designated as the program’s theme song.
In addition, the duo has been spending time in Nashville penning songs, working with Nashville writers Bobby Braddock, Clay Mills, Greg Barnhill, Shane Stevens, Cliff Downs, Cassidy Ford, Andrew Fromm, Melissa Bollea, James Slater, Richie Brown, Joanna Cotton, Ken Johnson, Bill DiLuigi, and Bonnie Baker. They have created a catalogue of songs that touches on all aspects of the human condition fitting for teenagers and adults alike.
“Our songs are from the heart about things that we are experiencing or seeing what others around us are going through or they are just songs meant for having fun and living life,” said Olivia and Mitchell in rare agreement. “We write together and sometimes on our own and have had the honor of writing with some of the best in Nashville. Our talent is in singing and musicianship so we like co-writing with others that are more gifted at songwriting.”
Knowing that a music career is a lot of hard work, Olivia and Mitchell stay grounded in their daily lives by pursuing an active lifestyle befitting today's youth. Olivia is an honor student who has participated in various sports over the years. Mitchell, a self-proclaimed "adrenaline junkie" who attends Texas A&M, is a licensed Porsche racecar driver and high speed driving instructor (a feat he achieved at 17) and became a certified skydiver soon after his 18th birthday. Other activities they both enjoy include snowboarding, snow skiing, kayaking, mountain biking, fly fishing and rock climbing.
As for those pesky rivalry issues, Sibling Rivalry has no issue sharing their family secret for success: “We both agree we have a passion for music and for life and enjoy what we do,” said Olivia. “We have been blessed to get this far and we stay motivated by writing new songs and seeing our fans’ reactions to them when we play shows. We are excited about what’s to come this year.”
Photos by Olga Robertson | Videos by Trina Martin, Real Content Solutions