Runaway June’s Naomi Cooke, Hannah Mullholland and Jennifer Wayne had a very powerful message to share when they made their Grand Ole Opry debut on Friday (Oct. 14): Never settle for anything less than the love you deserve.
In the hook of their lead single “Lipstick,” they sing, “If you’re going to love somebody, you better love somebody who ruins your lipstick and not your mascara.” It meant the world to the group to perform it live for the first time in the Opry’s inner circle.
“It’s the biggest honor for any artist to get invited to play the Opry,” Cooke said after their performance. “To come out with a song that’s the positive side of a breakup and to have that as our debut, I don’t think I would have it any other way.”
They also premiered the mournful “Blue Roses,” which describes the world of the brokenhearted. All three seemed to lose themselves in the music when they closed their eyes and sang, “My love is long gone, a love I thought was true and now even the wild roses are blue.”
“It was everything that I thought it would be,” Cooke added. “I just closed my eyes and I could just hear our harmonies in the song and just living in the Opry.”
“To finally have that moment it just felt like a dream,” Wayne said.
Backstage in dressing room four, flowers from loved ones sat on top of an upright piano. In the corner stood a beautiful arrangement of sunflowers and red gladiolas sent from 2016 Country Music Hall of Fame inductee Charlie Daniels. Connie Smith, who introduced their first Opry performance, also passed them a congratulatory handwritten note.
In the audience, Cooke had at least 30 friends and family cheering them on, including nine of her 11 siblings and their mother, who was celebrating her birthday that evening. Wayne invited her best friend Andrea, and Mullholland brought her boyfriend for the occasion.
The three members of Runaway June are very different women who came together with a common ambition to tell the story of working class America through music. Cooke grew up in Amish country as baby No. 5 in a family of 11 children. Mullholland is a former art teacher who spent June 2015 hiking 220 miles of the John Muir Trail in California. And Wayne, granddaughter of Hollywood legend John Wayne, is a songwriter behind Eric Paslay’s hit “She Don’t Love You.”
They are currently in the studio recording their full length debut album.