In the world of contemporary music, sister acts have played a hugely important part in the development of the genre’. In fact, some of the most ground breaking tunes have come from sisters, from the old swing-time tunes to contemporary rock and roll and everything in between. In many cases, sisters have led the way with a new sound, a new outlook on life’s travails or even showing a new attitude and a unique presence on stage.
Take, for example, the Andrews sisters. They were the first sister act that brought together all of the elements we know today in modern music. Choreographed dance steps, sex appeal (yeah, I know, this was in the 1940’s, so take that with a grain of salt), a swinging beat and a sound that was catchy with a solid lyrics behind it. They danced, they sang, they were talented and forged the way for other sister acts.
In the dawn of rock and roll, a popular sister led band called The Angels began the genre’ of singing about female teen/young adult emotions, be they tragedy or ecstasy, particularly in a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship. “My Boyfriends Back” was a huge hit for The Angels, and it told the story of a returning boyfriend who would vanquish all of the other suitors for their heart.
The Shangri-Las were another sister led group, working that same genre’, whose big hit song was about their rebel boyfriend perishing in a motorcycle accident. Of course, no adult understood the attraction to a biker back in those days, but any teen girl of that era would swoon when thinking about this bad boy/bad girl situation, and then get all misty eyed when learning the outcome.
Fast forwarding a bit, we come to Heart, with Annie and Nancy Wilson at the helm. They added some serious rock and roll beat to a modernized version of that young adult emotional genre’, and the songs grew up and centered around adult relationships with every rockin’ chord that was played.
Perhaps the best folk duo of sisters were Kate and Anna McGarrigle, beloved by all and writers extrordinaire, whose songs have been covered by a who’s who of singers, including Maria Muldaur, Linda Ronstadt, Emmylou Harris and Judy Collins, to name a few.
Let’s not forget about Tegan and Sara who were identical twins, The Bangles who were formed by the sisters Vicki and Debbi Perterson and The Breeders, and alternative band which includes the siblings Kim and Kelley Deal.
That brings us full circle to the newest female sibling band on the block, the sisters Haim. Fronted by the talented trio of Alana, Danielle and Este, Haim carries on the tradition of teen/young adult emotional songs with such tunes as “Forever,” and “The Wire.” They all sing and play instruments, turn raw emotion into tangible feelings and are one of the few female bands, sisters or not, that are bold enough to actually sing about heartache when it happens to somebody else.
From the Andrews Sisters to Haim, they have changed the way we listen to music, and the genre’ is still going strong.
The first big sister act, the Andrews Sister doin’ some boogie!
“My Boyfriends Back,” The Angels
The latest and greatest, Haim with “The Wire.”