We’re not sure why Laura and Lydia Rogers are called the Secret Sisters, but certainly after you hear their songs and voices, you’ll be spreading the news that this Muscle Shoals, Alabama duo are great performers. Nominated for a 2018 Grammy Award for folk music, they will make their first visit to the Barre Opera House at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 23 as part of the Celebration Series. Expect beautiful female harmonies, well written songs and comic patter from these two talented women.
These sisters bring the best in sibling singing and songwriting to their performances and records. Their singing, due largely to sweet sisterly harmonies and vintage Nashville/Southern gothic hybrid sound, evokes the classic sibling harmony groups that made country music so popular. They are in the mold of the Stanley Brothers, the Andrews Sisters, the Louvin Brothers and the Carter Family in terms of their talent and synergy. The Secret Sisters’ music is crafted from a deep sense of self and their formative years growing up and singing in church and the musically rich region of northern Alabama.
The Rogers sisters produced two albums after their discovery by Nashville country producers Dave Cobb and T-Bone Burnett in 2009. Their self-titled debut record in 2010, produced by Cobb, was released to widespread acclaim for their classic harmonies and vintage honky-tonk style.
The Secret Sisters toured country and other major festivals and built a solid fan base. They toured with Levon Helm and Ray LaMontagne and opened for Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson and Paul Simon. They also appeared on numerous late-night shows and released a second album with Burnett.
Their sophomore record, “Put Your Needle Down,” reached No. 18 on the Billboard Country charts, but changes at the label combined with a conflict with their management led to the sisters becoming discouraged and questioning their longevity in the music industry. They nearly went bankrupt, and thought about dropping out of performing.
Sometimes a nudge from other performers can help an act that is on the brink of quitting give music another try. This was the Secret Sisters’ fate when superstar singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile became their champion, encouraging them to continue writing and performing, as well as offering to produce their new recording.
The result was the critically acclaimed album “You Don’t Own Me Anymore,” which highlights the gothic Southern folk style that features the sisters’ smooth harmonies and their maturing songwriting skills. The album earned a Grammy nomination for Best Folk Album last year.
Carlile commented, “I remember the first time I ever heard them sing and I literally could not believe that it was happening in real life. They were and continue to be two of the most stunning singers in the world.”
The album won critical acclaim. Says American Songwriter, “‘You Don’t Own Me Anymore’ is a strong, welcome return and a reminder of just how powerful and moving the merging of two stunning voices can be.” NPR lauds the sisters’ “enchanting harmonies … blending Southern gospel, bluegrass, barbershop and swing influences, all with a contemporary, poetic twist.”
Fans also praise their stage performances. “I just saw your performance last night. You were as funny in-between songs as you were heart-achingly beautiful during. Your voices are such a gift. Thanks for sharing them!” was one comment on YouTube.
“I have no words to describe how beautiful your singing was and how entertaining you were. It was the best opener ever. Keep making music, and thank you for sharing that with the world,” added an audience member.
These women are recognizable as sisters the minute they open their mouths. They trade harmonies in ways only siblings can. Hailing from small-town Alabama, the pair started practicing parts as girls in church, which has influenced their performances. Today, as one reviewer noted, “Their music can be hymn-like: plain but powerful, heartsick and hopeful.”
The Secret Sisters are an inspired addition to the TD Bank Celebration Series of concerts at the Barre Opera House.