Entertainment Zoe Speaks: Zoey Barrett, Arlo Barnette, Mitch Barrett, Owen Reynolds, and Carla Gover Musical traditions run deep with Story by Kim Kobersmith Z oey Barrett grew up on the road with her parents, Mitch Barrett and Carla Gover, and sister Maisie, as the family toured the world as the band Zoe Speaks. She started playing fiddle at age 5 and guitar at age 12. “It was pretty fantastic,” says the now 21-year-old. Maisie also joined in, with her stage debut at age 2; she sang “You are my Sunshine” before she could even pronounce all of the words cor- rectly. Music runs in the family, whether through genetics or os- mosis. Both parents remember 4 singing in the front seat of their car and hearing the clear melody lines coming from Zoey and Maisie in the back at a tender young age. As an adult, Zoey is back playing and touring with her parents in a recently reunit- ed Zoe Speaks. For parents Mitch and Carla, music is also a family tradition. Mitch’s family has lived on the same land in the Blue Lick area of Madison County for gen- erations. While his clan never performed outside their home, his grandfather played claw foot banjo every night, and music was part of every family gath- Madison Magazine A P R I L- M AY 2 0 1 9 ering when he was a kid. Now he plays guitar, tells traditional and personal stories, sings and writes songs. Carla grew up in Whitesburg in Letcher County and moved to Madison County in high school. While much of her early sing- ing was at church, she also was introduced to more traditional tunes and playing styles at Satur- day night dances at the school- house. Now she plays banjo and guitar and is a flatfoot dancer and songwriter. While the musical traditions of their families and their rural eastern Kentucky origins con- tinue to inspire them, the music of Zoe Speaks is an evolution of those traditions. They play a mix of traditional tunes and their own original Americana roots songs. The award-winning songwriters that comprise the band pull from a range of musi- cal influences to create soulful music that hearkens back to the traditional Appalachian music of their childhoods. A DIffEREnT VIEw Of APPALAChIA Like that traditional music, Zoe Speaks conveys a socially conscious and spiritual gravitas.