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The Civil Wars breakup finally official: The full story told

The Civil Wars officially break up, true story may never be told
The Civil Wars officially break up, true story may never be told
Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images

It’s a sad day for fans of the folk-country duo The Civil Wars. The duo, which hasn’t performed together since 2012 but has teased fans with a reunion multiple times, has finally announced an official breakup.

According to a Tuesday report by MusicRow, John Paul White and Joy Williams have officially split. Confirmation of the breakup is also posted on The Civil Wars website.

The dissolution of the duo is truly a sad occasion and one of those events that will always be remembered as a “what could have been.” In 2011, The Civil Wars were off to a soaring start as their song “Barton Hollow” won over music fans who appreciated their raw lyrical style. By 2012, the duo had already won two GRAMMYs for their debut project. They picked up awards for Best Folk Album and Best Country Duo/Group Performance.

By the end of the year, however, something had shifted in the dynamic of the duo that would never be restored. In November of 2012, the duo quite suddenly canceled all of their remaining concerts stating that there was “internal discord and irreconcilable differences of ambition” and that they were unable to continue as a touring entity at that time. Though paid-up fans were offered reimbursement, fans everywhere were shocked at the turn of events.

All was silent in The Civil Wars camp for quite some time, but by spring of 2013, a “new” album was dangled before hopeful fans. It was later believed, however, that the new album wasn’t really new at all. The record company was simply releasing a project that had been recorded before whatever discord arose between the duo. Once again, fans were left waiting to see if a third album would emerge, something that would prove the duo had actually reconciled and recorded together once again.

In the summer of 2013, Joy Williams broke the silence and gave an interview to Associated Press. Though she still wouldn’t confirm or deny any of the rumors that had been circulating as to why the band went on hiatus, she did confirm that she hadn’t spoken to John Paul White but was still hopeful about a reunion.

Apparently, those hopes are now dashed for Joy Williams and for fans everywhere who saw The Civil Wars as something very unique and promising for the future of folk and country music. In parting, the duo has offered fans a download of “You Are My Sunshine,” a track that could only be found on the limited edition of “Barton Hollow” 7" vinyl album.

Upon their official breakup, Joy Williams had this to say:

I am saddened and disappointed by the ending of this duo, to say the very least. JP is a tremendous musician, and I will always be grateful for the music we were able to create together.I sincerely hope that ‘You Are My Sunshine’ will be accepted as a token of my gratitude for every single person that has supported our duo throughout the years. I’m so thankful and my heart is full. Looking ahead, I’m excited to share the music that I am writing and recording in the midst of this difficult transition. I’ve loved being back in the studio, and have missed performing live. I look forward to seeing you soon.

John Paul White added:

I would like to express sincere thanks to all who were a part of the arc of The Civil Wars—from the beginning, to the end, and all points in between. My deep appreciation goes out to all who supported, disseminated, and enjoyed the music. Whatever shape or form the next chapter takes, thanks for being a large part of this one.

Fans of The Civil Wars can download their parting gift of “You Are My Sunshine” at

Now that The Civil Wars have officially announced their breakup, sadly many fans will be left wondering if the duo will ever reveal what caused the demise of a band that seemed like they had nowhere to go but up and yet in the end appeared that they couldn’t even be civil to one another.

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