Hitting the Big Time

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Ten years ago, Cartersville native Allie Johnson had an epiphany, albeit a minor one, that she might have a future in music. 

This week, PLA Media, a publicity and marketing company in Nashville, announced that "Rebel Union," — Johnson, her husband Zach Laughlin and two other musicians — signed a contract with them. 

"I have always loved music," Johnson said. "I studied piano in middle school, and sang in the church choir and the chorus at Cartersville High, but it was something that I did because I enjoyed it. I never gave much thought to making it a career."

Then in 2008, her talent helped her win the Bartow County Junior Miss title.

"That was the first time I seriously thought about music as a career," she said.

The thought wasn't enough to deter her from pursuing journalism studies at the University of Georgia. 

She continued her studies but at night and on weekends, Johnson and Laughlin wandered the streets of Athens stopping at bars like the Mad Hatter or the 40 Watt Club, asking for a chance to play their songs.

"We got paid in beer," she laughed. "And I really fell in love with writing songs."

The duo also began scoring some local opening gigs for nationally-known artists like Kelsea Ballerini and Josh Turner.

Then, as publicists are wont to say, the stars aligned and magic happened.

"Zach and I were living in Atlanta, but we decided we had to move to Nashville if this was really going to work," Johnson said. "A week before we moved, we met another couple, Suzanne Dennis and Blake Mohler, and they performed as a duo too and they were moving to Nashville within the month. We agreed to get together and write music. We eventually cut some demos, but we sang them in four-part harmony."

The couples still focused on their duo careers, but performed together occasionally. 

But after they recorded a video of covers of “Hurricane” by Luke Combs and “Let It Rain” by David Nail, things changed quickly. The video garnered nearly 200,000 views and grabbed the attention of the popular country music blog, "Whiskey Riff," which praised the group saying, ”The harmonies on this are killer and all around an awesome job.” 

"We knew then we could have more success as a group," Johnson said. "We formed the Rebel Union Band."

The group recently released their debut single “Secondhand High” and will hit the road September 22 on a 14-stop fall tour.