Musical Match-Making: Six St. Louis Musician Couples Share Their Experiences

Peter Scheffler
Cheryl Wilson and Cree Rider of Cree Rider Family Band


Couple: Cree Rider and Cheryl Wilson
Romance cred: Engaged for more than two years, together for five years
Rider's role in the band: Guitar, vocals
Wilson's role in the band: Vocals

Best part about working together
Rider: Sharing something we are deeply passionate about together, working together to create something that is bigger than either of us. Writing and performing music in itself is a calling, and one which can be as frustrating and stressful as any other artistic endeavor. But to have someone you love at your side working with you and pushing you along is extremely rewarding. I would recommend to any other couples out there, find something you are both passionate about and work on it together. It may be difficult at times, but ultimately it will be one of the most rewarding things you can do together.
Wilson: When we are really tuned in while harmonizing onstage with our band thrumming behind us, I feel like our voices just... meld. I love looking over at him and seeing that calm, smiling strength in his eyes, feeling so in sync, like we are riding into battle together -- like we are Valkyries. Haha! Does that make sense?

Worst part about working together
Rider: Well, everyone who has been in a band knows that it is like being in a relationship with each band member. [Now] add that you actually are in a relationship with one of the other band members. It is an easy way to test the strength of your relationship. In the end, you have to be able to separate the band business from the personal stuff, and understanding and compromise are huge parts of that. I find in our case it works like this: I am in charge of the band stuff, and Cheryl is in charge of everything else in our life. And I am cool with that.
Wilson: Oh my, it's like musical polygamy! But seriously, yes, it does take a special balance to navigate the waters. Cree and I have a very strong foundation and communicate really well, so that is a HUGE plus. Be kind. Be patient. Be professional. Be clear on the difference between what's personal and what's business. Know when to compromise and when to just be quiet and have a whiskey. Super key.

A funny thing about performing together is...
Rider: All I know is that when we tour, our bandmates tell us, "It's so cute/funny when you guys fight."I don't notice it, really, but apparently it is true. Other than that, yes, we get mad at each other about this and that at gigs and on the road, but in the morning we are over it. I've written songs about it. Then there are the times I yell at Cheryl to help me load out the gear already. I can be a real grouch sometimes.
Wilson: We usually fight about driving directions and routes. I have my way and he has his! Grrr! But, really, the storm clouds usually pass in less than five minutes, and we always get to our destination anyway. (My way WAS more scenic.)

Advice to other lovebirds starting a band together
Rider: Prepare to put your love to the test. Sometimes I think of telling people, "Don't try this at home, we are trained professionals." Truly, I have seen so many bands and friends in bands break up because a couple bandmates were in a relationship and things went sour. I guess in the end, I'd say it is not a good idea. We have been lucky and navigated it successfully thus far. But, hey, it isn't always sunshine and roses.
Wilson: Are you sure? Which is more important, your love or your band? Both? Well, ok. It's not gonna be easy. You're probably gonna fight. But it will be awesome, too! You can take roadtrips and write songs and put on fancy clothes and entertain folks! You'll probably be broke too. Still ok? Well, alright! What are you saving your broken hearts for anyway? Go get it!

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