New Bern, NC – INTRO - As much as the Greenville band Someone's Sister is about music, they're also just as much about mission which comes out on their new CD release. George Olsen has more.
Ask a musician about influences and surprise they'll probably name other musicians. Georgia Winfree, one-half of the original duo that has now expanded to a quartet-sized version of Someone's Sister, comes up with a name from our country's earliest years.
(GW) "That's one thing we do, because we could've taken the money from each event and just handed it off here's 200 bucks or whatever to different organizations, but this is Benjamin Franklin's idea really. He came up with the idea with the money that the government gave him years ago and funded it into a thing that is now his original investment is now worth millions of dollars. It's actually in his autobiography, and that's where the idea came from, to invest the principle and grant off the interest, and there are students to this day that are getting money from his interest."
What Someone's Sister does is take the money from gigs and use it to pay the premiums on a life insurance policy that Georgia has taken out on herself. When she passes, the interest on the principle will be used to write grants to help out organizations involved in child abuse & domestic violence prevention and safe healthy children. That's not to say that Someone's Sister is a dour band that will pummel you with their various causes witness the track "Saturday Night Live" from their new CD "Calm in the Chaos."
Still, much of their music does carry a message, and while they may not set out on a given night to be keepers of a cause, when you're known for your advocacy efforts they speak in the schools about child abuse, they perform at fundraisers to fight violence against women the cause will frequently approach you.
(KJ) "We do a full gamut of everything. We played the Bitter in NYC and we didn't go up there and discuss child abuse. Depending on where we are, we generally have someone come up to us and say I know what you do, I know what you say and I was a victim of this, so you're right, we do we are the recipient of quite a bit of information, and its quite an honor to have people trust and feel safe to say things that maybe they've never said before."
Katherine Jones, the other half of the original duo. People probably feel they can approach the pair whether they're aware of the band's mission or not as their songwriting can be quite personal. That is most in evidence on the track "Fairy Tale Life" from "Calm in the Chaos." The title implies a pleasantness that actually isn't there the song's writer Georgia Winfree says it's a very angry song written about her own life.
"I wrote it after my father's death, and the first verse says " and you find a heart" it's not really a nice thing. I don't know if a lot of people know that and I'm glad I got a chance to talk about that. I shook in my shoes the first time I performed it live, I almost passed out."
This angry song and life experience stands in stark contrast to Katherine Jones' composition "Father" which she originally penned as a last-minute birthday tribute to her dad.
(KJ) "He truly has been an inspiration in my life, not just as a father but as a human being who taught me that although you do make bad choices and you do turn the wrong way it is possible to love each other, which unfortunately is a lesson that not all children got taught, that its o-k to be wrong, its o-k to mess up."
That contrast in upbringing has been helpful for the duo during those situations where they are approached by audience members with their own tales of hardship Georgia can offer the advice and sympathy only those with a shared experience can offer, while Katherine can be there when the connection becomes too strong.
(GW) "When we go to colleges and share, I'll speak about my passage, and the students come up to share what they've had to face, it so strongly hits me in that youthful core that I had to face that sometimes I have to back off and she has to take over and listens to those things and directs them to counselors because its amazing how much it is pervasive."
The pervasiveness of those experiences and the relative anonymity they endure lie behind what could be referred to as the band's mission statement "Because They're Out There."
(KJ) "Something will be written about and then it disappears, and really it doesn't disappear because it happens all over. And that's why we're here, because there are people who are injured day to day and don't have the ability or the voice or the life to speak and say anything. So that's basically why we began to do what we do. (GW) It's a question, when we perform it on stage "where were you when she cried " is not to say "you should have been blahblahblah" but we are all part of a fabric of humanity, that we will then, that quilt, however tattered or torn, we will pass down to our children, whatever message we have given our children, whether it be this beautiful message that Katherine got as a child or the one that I received haphazardly, we will pass that fabric and it is common and it is connected. (KJ) And we're all responsible for what we pass, pass down and how we continue to teach our children."
Katherine Jones and Georgia Winfree are the original members of the Greenville band Someone's Sister. Their new CD is "Calm in the Chaos." I'm George Olsen.