After selling the majority of their possessions and crowdfunding a 32-foot travel trailer seven months after marrying in October 2014,  Teneia Sanders-Eichelberger and Benjamin Eichelberger dedicated themselves to creating a musical movement promoting love, equality and empowerment.

Teneia and Ben in front of their “Tiny Musical House” in Jackson

When not being pulled somewhere across the country, the Eichelberger’s camper, “The Tiny Musical House,” is parked in front of Teneia’s parents’ house in Jackson. Teneia classifies selling their belongings and confining themselves to such a small space as one example of them taking risks and stepping outside of their boundaries. Another is their breakthrough collaboration with web hosting company Go Daddy.

The Eichelbergers, performing together as Heart Society, are the first musical act to be selected by Go Daddy for a Facebook Livestream event. Viewers will be able to watch the Eichelbergers perform songs from their latest album, Wake the Queens, and hear them talk about their musical journey. Mary Margaret White of Mississippi Today and Next Stop Mississippi hosts the event, which was scheduled to go live on Go Daddy’s Facebook page Friday.

Teneia hopes the livestream will send sound waves of Heart Society’s message to untapped audiences.

“We always look for opportunities that allow us to team up with somebody and pioneer something new and bring our brands and communities together,” she said.

Heart Society’s “Wake the Queens” album cover

In reaction to the country’s current political and social climate, Heart Society recorded their third studio album, Wake the Queens, released in February 2018.

When asked about the impact of social media and its power to ignite conversations on the controversial topics of racial and gender equality, Ben, with one hand gripping his coffee cup and the other gently brushing his wife’s shoulder as they sit closely yet comfortably on the small couch of their camper, responded with confidence and without hesitation.

“The name of the album is Wake the Queens, and it is about female empowerment first and foremost,” he said. “It is about empowering females and being unapologetically awesome and unapologetically, authentically who you really are.”

Prior to the album’s release, Teneia revealed her hopes for the album’s impact.

“Music has been a critical part of self expression for my entire life,” she said. “These songs are the most powerful way I can share my ideas with the world and inspire other women to stand in their power. I want women everywhere to listen to this album and recognize how truly amazing they are.

For the Eichelbergers, music serves as “time stamps,” marking seasons of their lives as they interpret social constructs and monumental moments in popular culture, such as the “me too.” movement. Subsequently, the nature of each of their albums or songs depends on the message they feel needs to be conveyed.

According to Google trends, the phrase “best female empowerment songs” is the No. 1 query in the world and the U.S. related to the search term “female empowerment.”

Can music accelerate a movement? How exactly can a push for social change inspire the creation of a song? Listen to the production in Wake the Queens and the answers may reveal themselves.

“For this album, knowing that it was about empowerment, we wanted it to be more aggressive and to have more of the kind of sounds that get your attention,” Ben said. “Loud, distorted guitars have the equivalent, in the human voice, of yelling or screaming. It’s that ‘ahh’ energy of ‘Hey, I’m here. Listen to me.’”

So, is maximum volume required for a song or a voice to move the masses? For the Eichelbergers, there’s a time, place and tone for everything.

“Do you always need to scream to get attention? No,” Teneia said. “But there’s a time that you need to stand up, and you need to speak, and you need to be loud, and you need to be bold in your beliefs and stand up for the things you really believe in. That’s how we get change. You really have to push to get your voice heard, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing.”

Even when the social and political climates undergo their changes and a new message is to be projected, the Eichelbergers say, no matter the tone, one element will always remain in their music.

“The common element (of our music) is and will continue to always be a strong groove,” Ben said. “Me, coming from punk-rock, and her, coming from soul and gospel, the common element is this blues-based groove element. I think that will always be there.”

Fourteen years ago, before fusing her sound with Ben’s and eventually becoming the Heart Society, Teneia released her first album, Teneia Sanders, in 2004 and continued recording music professionally. Ben, who was initially pursuing a career as a pilot in Arizona, did not take music as seriously until he met Teneia.

Teneia reminisces on how they met:

On the night of her 30th birthday party, Teneia ignited the romantic spark in their long-time platonic relationship.

Once they began dating in the spring of 2013, Teneia and Ben were eager to produce a harmonious blend of their separate sounds.

“We both love music,” Teneia said. “That was a big part of our relationship – playing different music for each other, connecting with different bands, going to live shows. So, that was always part of the plan for us – to, in some way, merge what we were doing.”

Although the Eichelbergs spend a significant amount of their lives traveling to and performing in other states, they always return to Mississippi, the place that even Iowa native Ben can appreciate and call home.

For more information on the Heart Society visit heartsocietymusic.com.

Sereena Henderson managed Mississippi Today’s social media and reported on Mississippi culture from August 2016 until June 2020. She was also a member of the engagement team and curated and delivered the daily newsletter. Sereena, a native of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, is a graduate of the Ole Miss School of Journalism and New Media.