The Scarlet Tree: Christopher Knox and Vanessa Constance Knox

Christopher Knox and Vanessa Constance Knox merge hearts and musical styles to record together as The Scarlet Tree, a “roots rock” band from coastal South Carolina. The couple’s lyrics-driven melodies meld Americana, gospel and country with their contrasting vocals and instrumentals to create a sound as savory as a lowcountry boil.

One effectively a garage band graduate, the other a classically trained soloist, they play more than half a dozen instruments between them: Christopher guitar, keyboards, percussives, plus the trombone he learned in elementary school; and Vanessa piano, flute and piccolo. 

The Christmas-themed Making Spirits Bright! is their first commercial CD, released in 2014. The album was picked up by iHeartRadio, and its signature carol, “Angels We Have Heard on High,” featured on Shamrock Media Group’s promotional compilation It’s a Shamrock Christmas, Volume 5. The song has since aired on radio stations throughout the U.S. and Canada, as well as in Europe, Australia and New Zealand, hitting number six on last year’s holiday charts in both Iowa and Minnesota.  It also landed them a home on Pandora.

Recording it was a music career high for the two, Christopher says, thanks to an “off-the-charts talented group of guys,” led by former bandmate, musician and producer Brian Oaks. The group includes instrumentalists for a star-studded bevy of Grammy, CMA and Dove Award winners. Vanessa credits her coach on the project with coaxing an even greater richness out of her voice to complement Christopher’s mellow and gravelly, in turn. 

Christopher says, “This record—14 tracks in total—leans heavily on an Americana sound, with some modest amounts of more recent guitar textures, lending it a bridge from current to the traditional sounds.”

Earlier, with the self-named band Knox, Christopher recorded and produced three other albums: Music for Pleasure, which was released in 2005; Yule Be Blue Christmas Album, released in 2007; and Lowcountry, which has yet to be mixed. He wrote and arranged nearly all the songs for all three catalogs. 

Another three albums of Christopher’s originals are expected to be released soon: Leaving Paper City, whose title song was inspired by the couple’s walking away from successful marketing careers, and the tentatively named Susanville, both by The Scarlet Tree, in 2017; and Weathered Bird Feathers, by Knox, in 2018. Those three collections and Making Spirits Bright! all came from what Christopher calls the Nashville sessions, recorded in 2012 and 2014-15, giving them what he terms a consistent focus.

Christopher and Vanessa recorded together once before, as well. The album Old New Borrowed and Blue, by the band they then called Knox and Friends, was created as a gift for guests to their 2010 wedding. From “Wiener, Wiener, Wiener!” to “I’m Going to Get Married to You,” the original cuts reflect not only the songwriter’s playful sense of humor but his romantic love for his bride.

Christopher’s education and career had already taken him from his home state of Washington to Japan, England, and the greater Pacific West, by the time he and Vanessa met, and his music beyond the stage to advertising and indie movie scoring. He could be heard on Starbucks’ Hear Music, BBC Canada, iTunes and XM Satellite Radio.

The first 10 years of the new millennium were perhaps his most prolific to date. He began composing what amounts to the diary of his life, incorporating all he’s absorbed from what he considers to be the best musicians of his time. The trade journal Rock Paper Scissors once described Christopher’s style as “blending tight folk-edged rock, pop-savvy lyrics, clean harmonies and groove-driven acoustic soul.”

At the same time, Vanessa was performing in very different venues, beginning at her home in Utah, at weddings, in bands and orchestras, and with tour choirs.

For Christopher and Vanessa today, the operative word is “fun”—collaborating and making music together with an ever-growing circle of friends, and, lately, at home with their two young children.

To purchase 'Leaving Paper City', 'Susanville', 'Making Spirits Bright!' or Christopher's Music for Pleasure or Yule Be Blue Christmas Album, follow the links below.

 Christopher is a member of ASCAP.