There are a slew of “brother acts” in traditional country and bluegrass—The Delmores, the Stanleys, the Louvins—but “sister acts” are quite rare. The small north Georgia town of Calhoun is home to the Lovell Sisters, Jessica (21), Megan (18), and Rebecca (16). The band formed just three years ago, but the Sisters have already made some major marks. A chance entry (and shocking victory) in the 2005 Prairie Home Companion “Teen Talent Competition” was the springboard for what the girls hope will be a long and illustrious career. “We started out big, on Prairie Home Companion, then we had to learn how to tour,” says Megan.
Homeschooled and exposed to wide-ranging art, music and dance classes by their supportive and proud parents, the trio received early classical training. All three learned to play violin, while Megan and Rebecca also took piano lessons. Jessica was second chair in the Southern Adventist University Orchestra at 15, continues to play violin and now sings lead vocals with her sisters. Megan may have led the band toward bluegrass. “I heard Jerry Douglas’ Slide Rule album, and it was love at first sight.” Inspired by Douglas’ virtuosity, she picked up the dobro. Rebecca joined in and chose the mandolin, and it only took her a few years to become the first female (and youngest, until 2007) to capture the prestigious Merlefest mandolin playing competition. “It was quite an honor, and has given me the opportunity to meet and play with some of my idols, such as Adam Steffey and Chris Thile,” Rebecca says.
With accolades adding up, it wasn’t long before the Lovells started garnering more attention in the bluegrass community. “We had a lot of positive feedback when we played at the International Bluegrass Music Association convention in Nashville,” she recalls. A glance at their website shows just how far and wide their path has spread. From such humble gigs as the Cabbagetown Stomp & Chomp in Atlanta to the prestigious Appalachian and Bluegrass Festival in Ireland, the Lovells are in demand all over the world.
Truly impressive about the Lovell Sisters is their maturity, poise, and humility—and their willingness to give their time to others. “We do a lot of ‘Career Days’ at schools, which is a lot of fun. We just did an internship in Crystal Lake and played to over 5,000 school kids,” says Jessica. “The kids seem to love it, and it exposes them to bluegrass music.”
The girls probably get their social conscience from their parents. Dad is a pathologist, and he and mom run an assisted living facility for senior citizens. That is, when the family isn’t traveling all over the place. Megan points out, “without our parents, we couldn’t do this. We travel as a family, and they support us in every way.”
The future looks bright for these amazing young ladies. Megan and Rebecca have continued their homeschooling while touring, while Rebecca participates in University of Georgia online courses. In addition to completing their education, the Lovells recently signed a development deal with Lyric Street Records, and soon will begin work on their second album. According to Rebecca, “We want to stay true to what we do, and we want to fuse musical genres to make something new.” Megan chimes in, “And we want to keep touring!”