For more than 20 years, BlackHawk has shared a unique sense of harmony with their voices, their songs and their fans. It's a harmony that has sold over 7 million albums, scored some of the most distinctive country radio hits of the '90s, and still draws countless fans to their shows.
And now, BlackHawk will play at Deadwood Mountain Grand on March 3. Tickets are now on sale at the Deadwood Mountain Grand Box Office — The Company Store — or at ticketmaster.com.
BlackHawk continues to honor its past as it forges its future, and does it all with a commitment that takes their music — and the harmony — to a whole new level. “When we started,” says BlackHawk co-founder and lead vocalist Henry Paul, “our individual careers as writers and performers gave us somewhat of a more creative sensibility. We were three guys whose goal was to approach country with smart songs and unique harmonies for people who may not automatically like country.”
Paul had previously co-founded Southern Rock legends The Outlaws, as well as leading the popular '80s rockers The Henry Paul Band. Van Stephenson had mainstream pop success as an '80s singer-songwriter-guitarist (“Modern Day Delilah”). And Dave Robbins had written hits for Eric Clapton and Kenny Rogers while partnering with Stephenson to write a series of classic No. 1 hits for Restless Heart, including “The Bluest Eyes In Texas” and “Big Dreams In A Small Town.”
"Even though the three of us had a love and appreciation for traditional country music," said Robbins, “we knew we weren’t going to be that. Henry was coming from Southern Rock, Van & I were in Nashville, but were writing country songs with pop sensibilities. When it came to our vocals, we wanted the three of us to be up front in the choruses like Crosby, Stills & Nash or The Eagles. What set us apart from the very beginning musically was being true to who we were individually.”
BlackHawk’s 1993 self-titled Arista debut album launched with the smash single “Goodbye Says It All,” followed by the Top 5 hits "Every Once in a While," "I Sure Can Smell the Rain," "Down in Flames" and "That's Just About Right." The album soon certified Double-Platinum, and the band received an Academy of Country Music nomination as Best New Vocal Group Of The Year.
But at the height of the trio’s success in 1999, Van Stephenson was diagnosed with an aggressive form of melanoma.
“Van’s contribution to the group was enormous,” Paul said. “He could be a tremendously gifted songwriter and a deeply spiritual guy. We found ourselves at a crossroads as a band, and it would have been an easy time for country music to count us out.”
“Two days before Van passed away, Henry and I went to visit him,” Robbins said. “Van was in a wheelchair at this point, and we took him for a stroll around his neighborhood. We spent the morning just talking, reminiscing about our career and good times together. Towards the end of our visit, Van said ‘I’ve got two things to ask of you guys. First, do what you can to help raise awareness and find a cure for this thing. The other is, don’t quit. There’s still a lot of great music left in BlackHawk.’”
Since Van’s death on April 8, 2001, the band and its fans have raised nearly a quarter of a million dollars for The Van Stephenson Memorial Cancer Fund at Nashville’s Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center.
Paul and Robbins regrouped and soon returned to the album charts with their Greatest Hits — dedicated to Van and featuring his final track “Ships Of Heaven” — as well as 2002’s Spirit Dancer and 2011’s Down From The Mountain, along with a touring schedule that brought the music to fans like never before.
“Our audiences today are often full of 18- to 30-year-olds,” said Robbins. “They listened to us as kids, and still have a love for the music we made. That’s a big part of what propels us to keep creating as writers and performers.”
For the fans, for the music and for the brotherhood of Paul and Robbins, harmony remains a powerful force. BlackHawk continues to record new music — including their well-received 2015 Brothers Of The Southland album, a forthcoming Christmas record and an acoustic greatest hits album.