A new band has burst onto the music scene and are teaching their listeners a thing or two.
The Sisters of Invention are an Adelaide group made up of five young women, all with a disability.
Managed by Michael Ross, singers Aimee, 28, Annika, 28, Caroline, 29, Jackie, 25, and Michelle, 24 have recently released a single and video from their highly anticipated debut album.
The group were first brought together by South Australian multi arts organisation, Tutti, which Michael Ross said nurtures the talent of young artists.
“Tutti is an arts organisation that supports the professional development of talented artists with learning disabilities. All of the singers in The Sisters of Invention ended up working at Tutti via different paths,” he said.
Michelle came to work with Tutti after she finished school.
“I finished school and I was wondering what I could do. Someone told me about Tutti and I researched online and it sounded cool. I got to do work experience at Tutti and now I work there four days a week as a singer/songwriter and a visual artist,” she said.
The five stars of The Sisters Of Invention all have learning disabilities, ranging from Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, Cerebral Palsy, blindness, a mild intellectual disability and Williams Syndrome.
Although the project is being supported by Tutti, Michael said the group are working to pave their own path.
“Tutti supports the group with funding from the Australia Council, Arts SA, government funding and many other grants and support from the private and public sectors. Increasing, The Sisters are paying their own way by charging for live performances and selling our recordings,” he said.
As well as the artists, there’s a small team, which Aimee and Caroline said helps the operation run efficiently.
“We’ve got Annika, Michelle, Caroline, Jackie and myself, Aimee. We are the singers and co-songwriters. We’ve got Michael Ross who is our collaborator; he does the piano, the studio production and co-songwriting. Pat Rix, as Artistic Director keeps the band’s direction running smoothly,” Aimee said.
“The Artistic Director of Tutti, Pat Rix put us five singers together and then Michael Ross began collaborating with us and we became a girl band that now sings all original songs that we write together. We’ve got Nigel who is our sound engineer for our live gigs,” Caroline said.
The collaborative writing process eventuates in the powerful lyrics heard in debut single ‘This isn’t Disneyland’ (video above), which come from the group sharing their own stories.
“Someone in the group would tell a personal story that they wanted people to hear,” said Caroline.
“We all spoke about the topic and how it related to others in the group individually,” said Michelle.
“I would listen and write down the parts of the conversation that were poetic and powerful. This would then form the basis for the lyrics,” said Michael.
Once the lyrics started to emerge, Michael would ask one of women to sing some of the words.
“When a strong melody came through, he’d start playing it on the piano and we’d all workshop it, then put chords to the melody that fit the mood of the song,” said Michelle.
No strangers to hard work, Annika said The Sisters of Invention are also working on a documentary to complement the single and video.
“We’re doing a short documentary on the songwriting process so other people get an idea of how we work together. We’ve made a music video to include in our documentary,” she said.
“It’s for our song ‘This Isn’t Disneyland” which is our first single released on iTunes. It’s about how people treat us like children when we’re all in our mid 20s.”
With their poignant material and catchy melodies, The Sisters of Invention are ready to work hard to establish themselves as serious musicians so they can reap the rewards of their efforts.
“Hopefully we’ll keep doing what we’re doing; writing more original songs, making more albums and making some decent money from our music so we can pamper ourselves to our heart’s content,” Michelle said.
Download ‘This Isn’t Disneyland’ here.
Story by Libby Parker
Photos courtesy of Sisters of Invention