BitchTapes: Sisters Making Music Together

Ashley McAllister
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Photo: Band members (and sisters) of Smoosh

Who better to start a band with than your sister? Today's BitchTapes highlights lots of sisters who have decided to brave the music industry together. Enjoy!

1. The Carter Family - Wildwood Flower
The Carter Family initially consisted of Maybelle Carter, Sara Dougherty Carter, and Sara's husband A.P. Delaney Carter. Maybelle Carter's guitar scratch was said to be the most widely imitated guitar style by the end of the 1920s. Maybelle later made music with her three daughters, as Mother Maybelle & the Carter Sisters. The Carter ladies are legendary. Make sure to listen to them. But first, listen to this song from The Carter Family. And be sure to check out Laura Veirs' cover of Wildwood Flower.

2. The Angels - My Boyfriend's Back
Sisters Barbara and Phyllis Allbut were the two members of The Angels. This song was #1 on the billboard charts in 1963, and it's been covered a bazillion times since then.

3. First Aid Kit - You're Not Coming Home Tonight
First Aid Kit is comprised of Stockholm-based sisters Jöhanna and Klara Soderburg, ages 19 and 17. They're also involved with the Sweden Girls Rock Camp!

4. Tegan and Sara - Living Room
Everyone knows that Tegan Rain Quin and Sara Kiersten are identical twins. What they don't all know is that Tegan and Sara tend to write their music independently in different cities and then come together to record and tour. Tegan told prefix that, "We encourage each other to be different and have different styles". What they're doing seems to be working, as they're still making music together after 14 years.

5. Heart - Magic Man
How could a mix of sister bands not include Heart? Ann and Nancy Wilson have been making music together for a long time. And they have a new album set to release this August, called Red Velvet Car.

6. The Dixie Cups - Chapel of Love
This trio consisted of sisters Barbara Ann and Rosa Lee Hawkins, as well as their cousin Joan Marie Johnson. They all started singing together in grade school! Can anyone listen to this song without thinking of Father of the Bride?

7. ESG - Dance
ESG (also known as Emerald, Sapphire, and Gold) has consistently been comprised of three sisters (Maria, Renee, and Valerie Scroggins) with other rotating members. The Scroggins sisters were given instruments at a very young age, in an effort by their mother to keep them off the street in the Bronx. In the 90s, Luscious Jackson and The Beastie Boys cited ESG as a band that had directly influenced their music-making.

8. Sister Sledge - He's the Greatest Dancer
Four sisters who are probably most famous for "We Are Family." I had no idea that Will Smith was such a thief until I heard this song!

9. The Pointer Sisters - I'm So Excited
Three sisters who were huge during the 70s and 80s. Ruth Pointer recently told PopMatters, "We just had fun. We knew what the other one was going to sing. The only thing I guess we would fight about was who was going to sing lead. Everybody wanted to sing lead."

10. The Shangri-Las - Remember (Walking in the Sand)
The Shangri-Las: Two sets of sisters!

11. The Watson Twins - Just Like Heaven
Chandra and Leigh Watson are identical twins that I was first introduced to through their work with Jenny Lewis. This song (a cover of The Cure's original) really captures their amazing ability to harmonize.

12. Heathers - Waiter
Twin sisters from Dublin. Apparently they named their band after Heathers. Yes, that Heathers.

13. Smoosh - The World's Not Bad
Smoosh initially consisted of sisters Asy and Chloe, who released their first album in 2004 when they were 12 and 10. Since then, their younger sister Maia joined the band. I fell in love with them years ago when I heard girl-anthem Rad, and I've enjoyed becoming reacquainted with them when they released their 2010 album, Wintershins.

14. Pearl Harbor - California Shakedown
I did include this sister-band in the last BitchTapes that I made, but I just couldn't leave them out of this one. They're too good.

Did I forget any notable sister bands? Please let me know in the comments section!

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26 Comments Have Been Posted

How did I forget CocoRosie?!

They are a phenomenal sister band. And that really is a great article. I was really interested in how Hegarty looked at Animal Collective's reception next to CocoRosie's. Thanks for sharing the article!

Great mix!

Also, Wilson Phillips!!

don't forget THE SHAGGS!

don't forget THE SHAGGS!

The Shaggs!

You're right, another great sister band. I actually just read <a href="" target="0">a little piece about them in Tom Tom Magazine</a> (those of you interested in learning more about them should check it out!).

One more: Burns Sisters

They're oldies but goodies... the <a href="">Burns Sisters Band</a> of Ithaca NY. They started out as the five sisters (out of 12 kids!) and three eventually ended up sticking with it. They're probably best known for the eighties pop song <a href="">I Wonder Who's Out Tonight</a> but they do a great combination of pop, blues, old-timey country and gospel.

Thanks for sharing!

Five sisters! That's awesome! I'll be sure to check them out.

I'll be the dork who says it...

I was surprised not to see the Dixie Chicks.

I'll be the jerk who says it...

The Dixie Chicks aren't sisters.

My bad.

I forgot there was a pair of sisters.

Oh this is GREAT!!! Love

Oh this is GREAT!!! Love seeing my girls The Shangri-Las. The Carter Family <em>and</em> Sister Sledge! This mix is slamming!

Technically, Will Smith's not a thief, since he totally likes to give props and include the folks he samples . He did the same with "Men in Black" (Patrice Rushen- Forget Me Nots) and "Wild Wild West" (Steve Wonder - I Wish/Kool Moe Dee - Wild Wild West). He actually featured both Wonder and Kool Moe Dee in the video for Wild Wild West.

Also, <a href="">Nile Rodgers wrote "He's the Greatest Dancer"</a> and is <em>also</em> credited as a writer on "Getting Jiggy Wit It" and the person who approached Smith with the track's musical concept.

"In real life as in Grand Opera, Arias only make hopeless situations worse." - Kurt Vonnegut Jr.


And you're right, Will Smith isn't a thief. I intended for that comment to be more tongue-and-cheek than an actual accusation. Also, I am impressed by your Will Smith knowledge!

Not as well known as these other groups, but...

...I've been impressed by the Shook Twins, recently relocated to Portland from Idaho. Check out Wild Fire- beautiful song, great example of sisters' ability to harmonize in ways that it seems only they can!

Music my twin eight-year-old girls like.

The Boswell Sisters!
Ella Fitsgerald modeled her singing on these three white girls from New Orleans. What more can be said? They did their own pioneering arrangements with tight harmonies that changed pop music forever, most famously with the Andrews Sisters (who basically imitated their act.) Interestingly, Connee Boswell (the leader of the group) couldn't walk and they hid this in movies of the day where she always performed sitting down. They were the hippest white women in jazz, and still rock.

Also, a similar list of sister-bands from Jessica Hopper

Jessica Hopper wrote the "Girls' Guide to Rocking" book, which rocks.

She did a list of sisters' bands with videos. The first starts with the Boswells as little cartoons, and then does that "follow the bouncing ball" thing.)

The Bangles have Vicki and

The Bangles have Vicki and Debbi Peterson as founder members, stepsisters Kristin Hersh and Tanya Donelly founded the Throwing Muses, and older Brits will remember Mel & Kim with a tinge of sadness.

best mix ever

This is the best idea for a mix tape I've ever seen! I will second the nominations for The Breeders and Throwing Muses, but you gotta love any mix tape with a song by Heart on it.


Did anyone mention the Breeders?

Sister bands = alive and well!

Thanks to everyone who has posted additional sister bands! We've created quite a list. Keep 'em coming -- I've enjoyed listening to all of the suggestions coming in.

There's also Cleopatra (who

There's also Cleopatra (who had that song called <i>Comin' Atcha!</i>).

For those interested in up

For those interested in up and comers, Fist City includes twin sisters who shred like none other!


Great list! Also check out

Secret Sisters from Alabama

The Watson Twins

and Sisters3 from Philadelphia.

Great bands!

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