Meet country music's newest duo, Wester - a brother and sister team made up of Pearl Clarkin and Rafe Wester!
Pearl Clarkin has been singing and writing songs since childhood. At age 12, she was recruited by American Idol for its training camp. By 14, she had been named one of the top unsigned artists in the country by CMT. The invitations to come sing in Nashville came streaming in and by 16, Pearl was traveling on weekends to sing at a Hard Rock Cafe Nashville for a weekly showcase. By the time Pearl enrolled at Belmont University, the whole family decided to move from Pensacola Beach to Nashville.
Pearl knew Rafe had a beautiful bass voice, so when he was 15 she signed him up to sing at church. But, while Pearl put her music before everything, Rafe always seemed to have something else to do. When Rafe turned 18, he officially got bitten by the "music bug" and also began studying at Belmont University. When the Covid-19 pandemic hit and the two siblings found themselves in the house together 24/7, Pearl taught Rafe how to play the guitar. They began to write songs about the wild and crazy Nashville scene, North Florida, alligators, crawfish boils, the beach, and the farm. A year later when the restrictions were lifted, they took their 40 songs and toured the country, singing over 50 shows in 2021.
In August 2021 Wester released their first single called "Redneck Rollercoaster" - a song dedicated to fun times singing on Lower Broadway in Nashville. On December 31, 2021, the duo rang in the new year by releasing "Rooftop Party" - now available on all streaming platforms.
You rang in the new year with a new single called "Rooftop Party" (which we love!). Did you make any New Year's resolutions?
Rafe's New Year's resolution is to work really hard on TikTok and get 100,000 followers familiar with our music. My (Pearl) resolution for 2022 is to take the time and energy to find someone to date. It's way too easy for me to work, work, work, and not take the risks of finding a relationship. But, I've been in the mood to try - so, who knows... maybe 2022 is the year for romance!! I would love that.
Not only are you a country music duo, you're also brother and sister. Do any sibling squabbles get in the way when you are songwriting?
We don't argue. We've always gotten along famously. We really click when writing together, too. Rafe likes to come up with fun and outrageous concepts and I'm good at describing those concepts in words. It works! But, honestly...my older brother (Don) and I fight like cats and dogs! Haha!
If you both weren't musicians, what career paths do you think you might have gone down?
Rafe would love to farm and I could so see him with goats, cows and horses. And even though you NEVER hear me talk about politics on my social medias, I would probably run for office.
Rafe, you've been compared to Randy Travis your whole life. Is he one of your musical influences?
It's kind of strange the draw I feel to his music. My Grandma, Helen, died before I was born and she was the biggest Randy Travis fan ever. Mom would unpack Grandma's Randy tapes and CD's from time to time to listen, and I was the kid in the family that was absolutely fascinated by his voice - his music and the easy sound of "country" in his music. So, when people started telling me (around middle school) I looked like Randy Travis, it felt familiar and comfortable. The first time I sang in public was in church when I was 15 and it was "Long Black Train." Afterward, the people who came up to talk to me asked if I was Randy's son, even though I sang Josh Turner. One man said, "Randy had a stroke and lost his voice and his voice found you." I thought to myself oh man, if that could be true it would be the best gift in the world. Randy Travis has been one of the most loved performers in country music of all time! I'd be lucky to just follow in his footsteps and learn a fraction of his greatness.
Pearl, you do a lot to give back to the community. Do you have a favorite cause you love to stand up for?
I've been raising money for Children's Miracle Network for years. When I was 16, during CMA Fest, I was booked about 10 shows in one week. It was 105 degrees on the Hard Rock outdoor stage and I was uncomfortably having to wear hose because my skin was oddly bruising. We called the doctor and they said come right in. I was diagnosed with ITP. I had zero platelets in my blood and was told by the doctors at the Monroe Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt I could spontaneously bleed out at any second and die. Those were scary days and I was so young, but the wonderful doctors and staff got me through it safely. So CMN is my cause. That year spent going to the children's hospital fighting ITP, I made friends with brave kids fighting leukemia and some won, some lost. Those experiences really touched my soul...like a brand on my heart.
What can we expect from Wester in 2022?
Wester ended 2021 on the beginnings of an explosion! We started focusing on TikTok 3 or 4 months ago and found ourselves with over 20,000 followers, 2.4 million likes and over 15 million views. We expect to at least double that in 2022. We wrote 40 songs last year and recorded 10 of them for our catalog and this year we'd like to write 40 more and at least record 20 more. We started a YouTube with one video and in 2022 would like to end the year with at least 12 more. We plan to expand last year's summer tour from 5 states to 6 or 7, and maybe more, if we have a radio tour. The world is going to see and hear a lot more from Wester! Can't wait, woohoo!!! Its gonna be a party!