It took Thompson Square 13 years of odd jobs and endless perseverance in Nashville until their major breakthrough. While they had some help along the way, both Keifer and Shawna Thompson agree that they found strength in each other. In an interview with CBS Local, the married duo shared their road to success.
“I never wanted to go back to my hometown and put my parents through the fact that I quit,” Keifer said of his persistence in music. “I quit one thing in my life and that was at a track meet, a race before I got in high school, and my dad was so disappointed in me that I was like ‘I’m never doing that again.’ That kept me driving.”
Keifer added that believing in Shawna also kept him at it.
“We really didn’t have a plan B. I wanted Shawna to succeed and I wanted it for me and I just felt it. Prayed about it, talked about it and we just stayed interested in the whole process,” he said. “One little thing would happen that was good and it would string you along for six more months and it did that for the whole 13 years that we were in town. You can have two years of just travesty and one good day will get you through another year.”
Shawna added that the biggest thing that kept them going was having each other for support.
“If Keifer was having a rough day I’d talk him out of it and if I was having a rough day he’d talk me out of it. We never would have quit playing music completely,” she said.
Keifer agreed, stating that they didn’t want to do anything else.
“If you don’t want to do anything else you can’t quit. What else are you going to do? We weren’t very good at anything else so we had to stick with this,” he confessed.
Shawna admitted she just didn’t want to go back to selling propane accessories, hinting at the many odd jobs the duo shared.
“There’s so many times I’d call him from my odd job an emotional basket case, just miserable because I wasn’t able to do exactly what I wanted to do,” she recalled.
“If you ask yourself, ‘Should I be doing this or not?’ Well, if you’re crying because you’re selling propane and you want to be singing then yeah, you probably need to stick with it for a little bit longer,” Keifer added.
Both rattled off a list of bad jobs while agreeing that Shawna held the worst of them. From painting houses to bussing tables while occasionally selling souvenirs and boots, they did what they could to survive.
“It’s really hard to have a corporate type job when you’re trying to be a musician,” Shawna admitted. “It’s hard to juggle. I really think that’s why it takes so long in Nashville.”
“You can’t dream with a suit on,” Keifer added.
During their time in New York, Thompson Square had lunch at Stardust Diner, which recalled their early years.
“It reminded me so much of the place where we used to bus tables, the Nashville Palace. People will go there to make money being a server, but at the same time they’d get to perform on the stage. At least get to make a living serving and doing what you want to do. Every one of the singers there were so fantastic,” Shawna said.
“It was kind of weird and humbling to sit there and think, ‘I’m here playing Radio City Music Hall and these people are up there just getting started.’ You go down memory lane and get very nostalgic to think I was doing that 10 years ago.”
- Annie Reuter CBS Local