They are a couple making country music who regularly play Nashville and live in Birmingham.

But this is not Birmingham, Alabama as you might expect. This is Birmingham, England.

Michael Weston King and Lou Dalgleish live in Moseley with their eight-year-old daughter Mabel.

They are one of the city’s musical secrets, a successful singer-songwriting duo who are big on the Americana and country scene and perform all over the world but rarely appear in their home city.

Although this autumn sees two extra performances in Birmingham – one at the Pride of Birmingham Awards at the Town Hall tonight, and one at Birmingham Rep in a show with one of their biggest fans, bestselling author Mark Billingham.

Lou was born in Erdington and at 16 ran away to join the circus in Mexico, the beginning of a 10-year career as a dancer.

She then moved into singer-songwriting, but didn’t take up country music until she met Michael.

Michael remembers: “It was 17 years ago, when I was also working as a booking agent. I was told about this amazing singer who kept selling out Ronnie Scott’s and who had written a dissertation on the lyrics of Elvis Costello songs.

“I’m a big fan of Elvis and left her a message asking her to ring me.

“She thought I was going to book her for a gig. She still hasn’t let me see the dissertation, but it’s a chat-up line I would recommend.”

Lou tempted Michael down from his home town of Southport to live in Birmingham.

“I never thought I’d live here, but the heart does strange things, and I have grown to love Birmingham,” he says.

In return, Michael introduced Lou to country music.

She says: “I was guilty, like a lot of people, of thinking that country music was naff and a lesser form of music. And there is some music that is like that, but Michael opened my eyes.

“Plus, Elvis Costello made a country record and I thought well, if he says it’s OK!”

The couple have been married for 12 years, but Lou points out: “We say 12 years ‘for now’. We like to keep our fans guessing as to whether we are still together or not.”

Their first album, How Do You Plead? – which was hailed by the editor of Country Music magazine as the “finest country album ever made by a British artist” – was about a relationship on the rocks.

Their latest album is called The Reconciliation? – note the question mark.

Michael remarks: “Twelve years is actually a longer time than Tammy and George were together.”

Lou and Michael have been heavily influenced by country music couple Tammy Wynette and her husband George Jones.

They say they wanted to make their first duets record sound like they were recorded in 1969 by Tammy and George.

They also like to dress like them, which involves “lots of polyester bought in vintage shops like Top Banana in Kings Heath”.

Not that Lou is entirely in favour of all of Tammy’s songs, especially her best-known one, Stand By Your Man.

She has written an antidote to the song called No Matter What Tammy Said (I Won’t Stand By Him), about domestic violence.

Lou says: “I wanted to redress the balance and say that it’s OK to not stand by your man.

“I wanted to write it as an anthemic, melodic song that people will sing along to, even though the darker side of it is it’s about a woman in an abusive relationship.”

Michael says: “They love us in Nashville. The fans who come to our shows can see we know our onions when it comes to country music. We’re not just playing at it, we have credibility.”

Lou says: “When I was pregnant with our daughter, we nicknamed the bump Clementine and that’s partly why we are called My Darling Clementine.

“But when she was born she didn’t look at all like a Clementine, so we called her Mabel.

“She often comes with us to gigs, a few of the songs are about her and there’s usually a photo of her on the album covers.

“She even played on one of our songs. We did a remix of How Do You Plead? on a 10 inch vinyl EP for Record Store Day and Mabel played her recorder.

“In the true tradition of country artists, we get them involved very early! Actually I’d like to point out it was the producer’s idea, I wasn’t being a pushy mum.”

Gigs take them as far afield as Scandinavia, Vienna and America, but this autumn sees two special performances in their home city.

First they are singing two songs at the Pride of Birmingham Awards at the Town Hall tomorrow.

Organised by the Birmingham Mail, the awards celebrate the courage and compassion of remarkable people who make a difference.

Gaby Roslin hosts and celebrities appearing include Jason Manford, Tony Iommi, Laura Mvula, Ruby Turner, Roy Wood, Ali Campbell, Dion Dublin and Glynn Purnell.

“We’re delighted to be playing there,” says Lou.

“It will be a special night. We are Brummies and we’re proud of our city.”

Then they are collaborating with one of their biggest fans, bestselling Birmingham crime writer Mark Billingham.

There will be one show of The Other Half in The Studio of Birmingham Rep on November 10.

In a rundown Memphis bar, three couples tell their different stories.

Billingham will read his story with My Darling Clementine punctuating the narrative with the songs which inspired it.

After the interval, audiences will enjoy a full live set from MDC.

Michael explains: “We’ve known for a while that Mark liked our music, as he’s been to our shows and we’ve talked to him.

“His fictional detective Tom Thorne is a country music fan. In his last novel, The Bones Beneath, he compiled a playlist for a journey Tom was going on and included a My Darling Clementine song.

“A promoter suggested we collaborate on a show and it’s now happening. It’s all very exciting.”

* For tickets to the Pride of Birmingham Awards, ring 0121 345 0600 or go to www.thsh.co.uk . The Other Half is at Birmingham Rep on November 10. For tickets, ring 0121 236 4455 or go to www.birmingham-rep.co.uk