Accidental Sisters will perform on island Sunday – with a twist
The women’s struggle for survival will be the focus of the Accidental Sisters’ concert Sunday, when more than two dozen ladies will join one another at the Jamestown Arts Center to perform their concert, “Global Rhythms.”
The Accidental Sisters is an allfemale a cappella group that was founded in Jamestown three years ago. The group boasts a chorus of 25 female voices, led by Julie Beth Andrews, the choir’s director.
Andrews was once a professional singer. After she stopped singing in public, the idea for the group came to her as she sat by the bedside of her dying brother. “My brother was dying of cancer and I just realized that I needed a place to sing,” she said. “I had a computer there by his bedside and I sent out an email to a couple of people. Within two days I had a group and it’s been growing ever since.”
This theme this year, according to organizers, “Celebrates the songs of women as they struggle for survival, nurture their families, and joins voices to raise awareness for peace, equality and social justice in the global community.”
But the Accidental Sisters aren’t all talk: All proceeds from the performance will be donated to the women’s shelter at Crossroads in Providence.
The songs for this year’s concert come from all over the globe and will include selections from Samoa, Pakistan, the Hebrides, Ireland, Kenya and the United States. There will be contemporary songs such as Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” and “Imagine” by John Lennon. There will also be traditional rounds originally recorded by Libana, a music ensemble made up entirely of women, just like the Accidental Sisters.
Also on the roster is “On Children,” which makes use of the poetry of Kahlil Gibran, and “Deep Peace,” a Gaelic blessing.
“It really meets a need, people wanting to get together and sing this a cappella music,” Andrews said. “If we had a bigger rehearsal space we’d grow to whatever size the rehearsal space could accommodate. It’s really pretty wonderful.”
As the name indicates, “Global Rhythms” will feature something a bit unusual for Accidental Sisters. This time out they will be joined on several songs by Jamestown drummer and percussionist Aaron Cote.
“As an a cappella group we’ve been wanting to hear rhythm along with the sound we create with our singing,” Andrews said. “We’ve decided to collaborate with Aaron this year to bring down the house with lots of noise, and the joy that rhythm instruments bring.”
Cote, who has a master’s degree in music performance from the University of Illinois, recently returned home to Jamestown following an five-month stint as a performer on the Holland America cruise line.
“I was contacted by one of the group’s members, and asked to join for the concert,” Cote said. “I think it’s a good collaboration.”
Cote will accompany the choir with a variety of percussion instruments, including marimba and djembe, for five songs. He will also perform 15 minutes of solo repertoire on marimba and steel drum. The steel drum performance was inspired by his experiences while on the cruise ships in the Caribbean.
“That’s something I picked up in the Caribbean,” he said. “It was so much in the culture that I saw it every day. It really intrigued me.”
The three steel drums songs that Cote will perform will include the traditional Caribbean steel drum piece “Matilda,” made famous by Harry Belafonte. “Morning Dance,” a song that was performed by the jazz fusion group Spyro Gyra at the Newport Jazz Festival in the early 1990s, will also be featured. Lastly, he will play “Jazz and Samba” by Antonio Carlos Jobim. Cote’s marimba performance will be an improvisational piece.
The concert will also feature regular accompanist Matt Bolles, whose wife Judy is a member of the group. Bolles will join the group on guitar for the song “One Voice,” originally performed by the Wailin’ Jennys, and on string bass for “Sometime,” initially recorded by Sweet Honey in the Rock.
“Most of what Accidental Sisters do is unaccompanied,” Bolles said. “So it’s been my pleasure and honor to be asked on some occasions to accompany them. It’s always a pleasure to play with them. They are a wonderful singing group, and a wonderful addition to a pretty vibrant arts community here in Jamestown.”
According to Andrews, her group’s purpose is to sustain the highest level of music that they can, and to raise money to help women worldwide who are not able to help themselves. “That’s been our mission since we formed. In the three years since we formed we’ve raised $7,000 or $8,000 for women’s groups.”
Accidental Sisters will present their concert at the Jamestown Arts Center on Sunday, May 20, at 4 p.m. Tickets are $10 at the door.
“This music is glorious,” Andrews said. “I think what people are going to discover when they come is a very uplifting musical concert, and a very high level musical concert, about rhythm and song, and the things that are important to us all like diversity, prayers for peace, and harmony.”