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Elizabeth Bowman, 19, (right) and Caroline Copley, 20, (left) horse around during dinner at Blaze Pizza on their way to play a show in Lexington. "She’s like the sister you never had and never wanted . . . I’m just kidding, she’s like my best friend." says Elizabeth. Their Folk/Old Time band, the Tealights, formed about a year ago and now the duo is working on their first album.

The perfect pair

story by Lex Selig

The tuning sounds of a guitar and fiddle strings fill the room. Patrons move closer. Speakers hum. House lights dim. The Tealights take the stage of Al's Bar in Lexington, Kentucky. Elizabeth Bowman, 19, glances to her right at partner Caroline Copley, 20, as they begin their set. Elizabeth's fingertips glide over the guitar strings, while Caroline's fiddle overlays the melody.

The girls are both majors in Traditional Music Studies at Morehead State University and dream of making a living from their music. They met through mutual friends who introduced them at dinner following a pre-semester audition. Less than a month later, they recognized a mutual passion for folk music and knew they wanted to play music together. As The Tealights, they travel to perform at bars and other venues while working toward the $1,000 necessary to make an album.

In the studio, Caroline prepares for recording while Elizabeth strums the guitar. A few practice runs later and Elizabeth has nailed down a guitar track. They slide on headphones, plug in the microphone and begin creating a new piece for their first album. From the initial rough lyrics to the final polished piece, they have worked with little outside influence.

Elizabeth explains, "The first song that we ever wrote together, we weren't a band yet, and she gave me this chorus and she goes, 'Could you finish this?' And it was such a like 'Mr. Miyagi' thing to do. It's actually our most well-known song."

Caroline says her earliest musical influences include REM, Talking Heads and the White Stripes. "Folk music is important to me because it isn't flashy," she says. "Every note and lyric is deliberate and essential. It comes together to create a raw, stripped-down interpretation of emotion and the human experience."

Adds Elizabeth, "You can say a lot of things in this type of music that you can't say and give to Ariana Grande to sing. When I was little and listened to Bob Dylan . . . it made me happy and had an effect on me. I want to have an effect on other people."


Getting ready for their show in Lexington, the women make sure all instruments are in tune, and begin packing up for the drive.


Elizabeth reaches out to hold Caroline’s hand as they speed north on the highway toward Lexington for a show. Even though the pair are studying traditional music, the music played on the ride included pop, hip-hop, electronic, and many more genres as they discussed the night's performance.


On stage at Al's Bar in Lexington, The Tealights performed for a good-sized crowd. When the duo travel for performances outside of Morehead, they take only the essential instruments needed, including two guitars, Elizabeth's mandolin, and Caroline's fiddle.


Elizabeth yawns while leaning on Caroline's shoulder after a long night of preforming and listening to other artists, at Al's Bar. They packed up Caroline's car and headed back to Morehead, arriving back home at a little after 1:30 a.m.


The mornig after the Lexington show, Elizabeth uses a flat iron to straighten her bangs before leaving West Mignon Hall, her dormitory on the campus of Morehead State University. "My roommates don't like me," explains Elizabeth. "The girl that lived in my part of the suite left."


On a cool October morning, Elizabeth walks across campus on her way to class. Most of her classes are in the Kentucky Center for Traditional Music. She works in the same building.


Elizabeth plucks the strings on a stand-up bass while Caroline plays fiddle during their Bluegrass Class at The Kentucky Center for Traditional Music. The duo practices many different styles or traditional music, but the Old Time/Folk genre is their favorite.


During a recording session in the studio at the Center for Traditional Music, the girls break out into laughter as they recorded vocals for their track. They are able to use the school's technology and resourses to help work on their first album.


After a long day of classes, rehearsing, and multiple hours in the recording studio, Elizabeth rests on the floor next to her guitar case. "We want to stay independent," says Elizabeth. The pair write, record, and produce as much of their music as they can, while keeping the experience truthful and personal.

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