It's not often that two singer-songwriters hit it off both musically and romantically, and then discover, while paging through old yearbooks, that both had been their high school prom queens.
"We didn't realize it until we'd been dating a while," laughs Veronica May, who joined forces with partner Lindsay White five years ago in a harmony-folk duo called The Lovebirds.
But after a three-year relationship, The Lovebirds gave up their romantic partnership in order to save the musical one. The end came just a few weeks before they were scheduled to go on a month-long tour in support of their sophomore record, And a One, and a Two.
If breaking up is hard to do, it can also be a rich source of musical inspiration. Of course, it can also be painful to hear your ex delivering last rites each night, as the duo would discover while supporting last year's third album, Breakup Shmakeup.
Where their previous two albums were entirely co-written, they collaborated on but a single song for Breakup Shmakeup. Instead each offers unfiltered perspectives from her side of the chasm. Suffused in sweet harmonies and their joint strumming, the one-time solo performers literally support each other's sentiments.
It's sweet and powerful, but wasn't necessarily easy. May recalls playing one of White's songs, "Boat Train," during a band practice the night before their CD release show.
"I just started crying. But we kept playing. And then Lindsay started crying. But we played through it."
One of six siblings, May grew up in Byers, Colorado, a small farming community on the plains about 30 miles east of Denver. Her parents had met in New York, and then moved to Colorado. There, they had a band called the Flatlanders — not the famous one — so there was always music in the house.
"When I was 3, I would be sitting on the amp while they were practicing, which explains my loss of hearing as well," she laughs.
She played piano and drums growing up, then guitar in her late teens, before going to college to become a board-certified music therapist. That's what brought her to San Diego, where she met a freshly divorced White. She still works at a hospital in San Diego, administering to the needs of autistic children.
May recently returned to Colorado to see one of her younger sisters' final volleyball games, and was struck by the greeting she received. Though she's been out for a while, she had apprehensions about going back to a small community like Byers, whose population doesn't reach four digits.
"I look very different now," she chuckles. "I definitely dress very masculine. I was a prom queen and now I'm the drag king."
The musician was relieved by the welcome she received. And now, after a year of touring in support of the album, she's happy to report The Lovebirds have a new batch of songs they're ready to record.
"Even if we weren't going to be in a band, we would always be friends," says May. "Lindsay is a kindred spirit of mine."