Brian Henningsen said that his music career started as an epiphany while riding a tractor on his family's farm.
"It was like you have that 'Eureka!' moment," Brian recalls. "I'm not trapped in any circumstance I'm in. I have the ability to make my own destiny."
Up to that point, Henningsen was a father of 10 children who was tending to his Illinois farm, which had been in his family for 140 years. But he decided to turn a hobby into something more with the help of his oldest son, Aaron, and his daughter, Clara, and thus the country music trio The Henningsens burst on the scene.
With their hit single, "American Beautiful," creating a buzz in many mainstream country music circles and a newly released LP, the trio toured this past summer with country music headliner and West Virginia native Brad Paisley.
The group is ready to bring their music to Elkins to perform at the 77th Annual Mountain State Forest Festival's Country Music Show Saturday.
Citing influences such as Ray Price, Garth Brooks, The Eagles, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Dixie Chicks, James Taylor and Nickel Creek, the band composes a sound crafted from the Nashville-style country scene and lyrically descriptive melodies that help them carve out their unique identity in country music.
"We write about just about anything that we encounter in real life," Brian said. "If it strikes us, we'll try to fit it into a song."
The group made its debut at an open-mic night at the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville. Eventually, the family was able to catch the eye of four-time Grammy winning producer Paul Worley, who had helped acts like Lady Antebellum and Martina McBride rise to national fame.
Worley introduced The Henningsens to another family trio, The Band Perry, who included three songs written by The Henningsens on their debut album, including "You Lie" and "All Your Life."
The Hennigsens are hitting their stride, and aim to write and perform music that, according to them, "resonates on an emotional level."
"We set the bar high for ourselves," Brian said. "We always ask ourselves, 'How can we make this interesting?' or 'How can we make this sound different?' When we sit down to write we try to spend a little more time to come up with something that is true, but is said in a different way."
The Henningsens will perform with Chris Cagle in the MSFF Country Music Show at Harper McNeeley Auditorium at Davis & Elkins College at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Tickets may also be purchased at the door the night of the concert.