Keifer and Shawna Thompson, the married, hit-making country music duo known as Thompson Square, journeyed to Nashville with dreams of being solo artists. She came from Alabama. He came from Miami.
The future members of Thompson Square met at a singing competition during their first week of Music City residence. The prize, as best as Keifer Thompson remembers, was $25.
“Neither one of us won that night,” he said. “But we got together and that was cool.”
Cool enough for Thompson Square — which will perform Saturday at Dixie Landin’ — to eventually get a record deal that produced three international No. 1 hits: “Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not,” “If I Didn’t Have You” and “Everything I Shouldn’t Be Thinking About.”
Thompson knows that he and his wife are among the fortunate ones who made it in Nashville.
“It took us a long time, but I feel very blessed,” he said this week from Nashville.
After the Thompsons met at the singing competition, they pretty much instantly became a couple. From the get-go, he liked everything about her.
“The way she looked and the way she sang, that was enough for me,” Thompson said.
Despite being a couple in life, the Thompsons didn’t become a singing duo right away. They kept pursuing their solo careers. Neither of them made much headway.
“Being together was the top priority,” Thompson said. “Doing music was second. So we just put the two together.”
Before they became an official duo, Keifer and Shawna Thompson had been singing together, but only informally.
“We were meant to be a duo,” Thompson said. “We were a little too close to it to realize that, but we always had a special sound when we sang together.”
About five years of striving passed before the duo signed a recording contract with Stoney Creek Records.
“I believed in us with every ounce of my being,” Thompson said. “I never doubted it. People always enjoyed us singing together, but it took somebody to give us the opportunity to record for it to be real.”
Thompson Square released its self-titled album debut in 2011. “Just Feels Good” followed in 2013, the year the duo played Bayou Country Superfest in Baton Rouge.
Thompson Square is at work on its third album with Dan Huff, the guitarist-turned-producer whose starry client list includes Faith Hill, Lonestar, Rascal Flatts, Keith Urban and such younger acts as Hunter Hayes, the Band Perry and Cassadee Pope.
“He’s amazing,” Thompson said of Huff. As for the in-progress album, Thompson added, “it’s the best thing we’ve ever done. It’s more us, more aggressive, more like our show. More like the songs that we listen to on the radio and the CDs we play in the car. There’s some relationship stuff there, but it’s cranked up and edgier.”
Thompson anticipates the album will be released this fall. Meanwhile, fans can check out Thompson Square’s first debut young-adult novel, “Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not.” The book is loosely based on the lyrics of the duo’s double-platinum, Grammy-nominated song of the same name.
“I think we’ll do more of that in the future,” Thompson said. “It’s really different from (writing songs), but it’s fun. We enjoyed the whole process; but writing is never easy, no matter what it is.”