The Civil Wars were an American musical duo composed of singer-songwriters Joy Williams and John Paul White. After releasing a live-performance album and a four-song EP, their full-length album Barton Hollow was released in 2011. The band won the Grammy Award for Best Country Duo/Group Performance and Best Folk Album in 2012.
Williams and White met in 2008, during a song-writing session or "writing camp" at a music studio in Nashville, Tennessee. According to Williams, the idea for the band's name came as she "was driving around town looking at all the Civil War monuments." Their first recording was of a 2009 performance at Eddie's Attic in Georgia which they released as a free Internet download called Live at Eddie's Attic. Later that year, they released a digital extended-play album, called Poison & Wine, produced by Charlie Peacock, and the title song appeared on the TV show Grey's Anatomy.
In 2011, The Civil Wars released the album Barton Hollow; which reached No. 12 on the Billboard 200 chart, No. 54 on the UK Albums Chart and received Grammy nominations in the Best Folk Album and Best Country Duo/Group Performance categories. The album was included on several critics' Best Albums of 2011 lists, including NPR Music, Paste, Time, Associated Press, AllMusic.com The Wall Street Journal, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly and USA Today. They released the singles "Tracks in the Snow" and "Safe & Sound".
In 2012, The Civil Wars partnered with T-Bone Burnett on the film score for the documentary A Place At The Table (previously known as Finding North) and collaborated on the song "Lily Love" with The Chieftains. They released a 7" vinyl album with cover versions of Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean" and Portishead's "Sour Times" in April. The duo was featured in American Way magazine, USA Today, on the cover of Billboard, and released a photo book called To Whom It May Concern.
In November 2012, the duo went on hiatus, citing "internal discord and irreconcilable differences of ambition". In August 2014, The Civil Wars announced an official break-up through press release.