This Sunday Elder Music column was launched in December of 2008. By May of the following year, one commenter, Peter Tibbles, had added so much knowledge and value to my poor attempts at musical presentations that I asked him to take over the column. He's been here each week ever since delighting us with his astonishing grasp of just about everything musical, his humor and sense of fun. You can read Peter's bio here and find links to all his columns here.
The best harmony singing, with only rare exceptions, comes from siblings. There are many examples in the male singing world, but it holds just as well for females. This is the basis for today's column. Let the singing commence.
VIKA AND LINDA BULL are Australia's foremost female singing duo.
They have appeared on hundreds of records (besides their own) and been in quite a few bands. If you need some female backup singers or some lead singers, they are the go-to people. Here, from one of their own records, is Love is Mighty Close.
The trio called the DINNING SISTERS were Lou, Jean and Ginger Dinning.
Jean and Ginger were twins. There were nine kids in the family, all of whom sang really well. There was a young brother named Mark who was a bit of a pop star in the fifties for whom Jean wrote the song Teen Angel.
The trio was some record company's attempt to emulate the Andrews Sister but they were more restrained than their more famous rivals. They perform Better Not Roll Those Blue, Blue Eyes.
THE ROCHES were Maggie, Terre and Suzzy Roche from New Jersey.
Maggie and Terre performed as a duo for some years until Suzzy joined them and they became The Roches, as you will hear. Maggie wrote most of their songs with Terre contributing a few. Alas, Maggie died early this year. The group introduce themselves with their song We.
KATE AND ANNA MCGARRIGLE were not only performers, they wrote terrific songs as well.
There's also an older sister, Jane, who occasionally wrote songs and performed with them. Some of the songs that Kate and Anna wrote have been covered by the cream (as well as the milk) of singers.
It was difficult choosing just one song, but I finally decided on You Tell Me That I'm Falling Down.
I could have continued the previous two a further generation. Loudon Wainwright III was once married to Kate McGarrigle and they have a daughter Martha (and a son Rufus). After their divorce, he married Suzzy Roche and they have a daughter Lucy. Martha and Lucy have played and recorded together. However, I thought their contribution was for another column.
Probably the most famous singing sisters were the ANDREWS SISTERS.
Readers of the column probably don't need to be told that they were LaVerne, Maxene and Patty Andrews. Rather than use one of their famous (and thus too well known) songs, I thought I'd use one I didn't know until I discovered it on my database. Of course those who know them better than I do might be familiar with it. Alone Again.
THE MCGUIRE SISTERS were sort of the Andrews Sisters of the fifties.
Christine, Dorothy and Phyllis McGuire had a bunch of hits in that decade until they stopped performing because of (apparently quite founded) rumors that Phyllis was seriously involved with the mobster Sam Giancana.
Anyway, getting back to music, their biggest hit was Sugartime, which might be considered an answer song to Jimmy Rodgers' song Honeycomb. It certainly references that song.
Whew, this next one brings back memories but I'm not going into details. Here are the POINTER SISTERS.
The group started out as June and Bonnie Pointer. Later Anita joined them. Later still Ruth turned them into a quartet. The group that was most successful consisted of June, Ruth and Anita. Later, after June died, Ruth's daughter Issa joined the clan.
These days Ruth's grand-daughter Sadako is in the mix. Okay, from the most famous of the various combinations is their most famous song, Slow Hand.
The KIM SISTERS were born in South Korea but made their name in America in the fifties and sixties.
They were Sook-ja and her sister Ai-ja Kim and their cousin Minja Kim. Their parents encouraged them to learn instruments and each played several. American soldiers stationed in Korea were impressed with them and would encourage them by giving them records so they could learn the latest songs.
After arriving in America they were featured on many TV shows, most notably on Ed Sullivan's and Dean Martin's programs. They sing Going Back Together.
The PARIS SISTERS started out in San Francisco and are best known for recording with Phil Spector.
They were Albeth, Sherrell and Priscilla Paris. Priscilla, the youngest, was the lead singer in the group. They had one song that made the top five and several more that tickled the charts a bit lower down. Their big one was I Love How You Love Me.
Martha, Connee and Vet, known to us as THE BOSWELL SISTERS were all classically trained on piano, cello and violin.
However, by that stage they were living in New Orleans and the jazz scene there won them over. It also meant they got to experience the best musicians of that style which influenced them considerably.
Although not the first, they were one of the earliest to record the now evergreen song, I'm Going To Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter. They also sing verses that generally aren't heard these days.