Defining the music of The Hall Sisters is tough, which is a good thing.
The four Garner sisters’ music, which has been featured at the iconic Grand Ole Opry, will be on display in their first full hometown concert Friday, June 12 at Aversboro Road Baptist Church. There is no admission fee.
The sisters blend folk, pop, nostalgia, religious and classical, add a little bluegrass and tons of tight family harmonies.
“I guess you could say it is Americana,” said Kathryn Hall, the girls’ mother.
The Hall Sisters are about as all-America as the Fourth of July.
The diversity of their repertoire comes from a love of various styles of music. They can play a classical piece with violin, cello, viola and mandolin or piano, knock out an a cappella version of a hymn, spark memories with a classic 1940s sisters’ song, or set toes to tapping while singing with a track.
“We love it all,” said Jessica Hall, the oldest of the sisters and the impetus for the siblings’ budding musical career.
Jessica Hall started playing the flute in elementary school at Wake Christian Academy, but soon switched to the piano. She attended a Fine Arts Summer Academy conducted by the Annie Moses Band in Raleigh after hearing them at Colonial Baptist Church in Cary in 2005.
Even then, she was noteworthy, according to Robin Wolaver, the matriarch of the Annie Moses Band.
The Annie Moses Band, which has played on stages from the Grand Ole Opry to Carnegie Hall, is composed of six brothers and sisters who were classically trained in their musical instruments. The Halls learned from them that it is OK to not be bound to a single genre.
“The Hall Sisters have found the joy of making music,” Wolaver said. “They love to make music, all kinds of music. And it shows.”
Wolaver was impressed from the start with Jessica Hall’s ability to understand music and to imagine the harmonies and the interlocking notes.
“Jessica has this amazing ear,” Wolaver said. “She has always been able to hear the harmony. She has an exceptional alto voice and understands music. She is really talented.”
550 miles and 10 hours
There was no great design to create a musical group, but it evolved as each of the girls – Jessica, 21; Natalie, 19; Lydia, 17, and Valerie, 15 -- made the decision to make music.
Singing was a family fun thing. They would gather around, mom and dad included, and sing for fun.
Jessica played the piano and mandolin. Natalie started the violin in 2005. Lydia added the viola in 2007 and Valerie began cello in 2010.
They already had the voices and they enjoyed their music and occasionally attended the Annie Moses camps and workshops.
In February 2012 the Halls decided to pursue their passion.
The girls and mom packed up and drove to Nashville, Tenn., to attend the Annie Moses Band’s conservatory.
It was 550 miles and 10 hours by car away from home and father and husband, David Hall.
“We missed him so much,” Natalie said. “We worked really hard at the music, but being away from dad was the hardest part.”
Relocating with three teenagers into a three-bedroom apartment was no spur-of-the-moment decision.
“There was prayer. Lots and lots of prayer,” Kathryn Hall said. “The girls had reached the point that they needed some help to pull everything together. That’s what they had wanted to do. We prayed and prayed and believed this was the path that we were supposed to take.”
A typical day at the conservatory began with a 5 a.m., wake up and the various music lessons continued through 5 p.m. Then it was time to begin home schooling.
“It was a huge commitment by the family,” Wolaver said. “It is a beautiful family.”
Kathryn Hall said the two years in Nashville pulled the girls together. Looking back, Natalie Hall said she sometimes misses the tight quarters, the lack of privacy.
“At home, we are sort of spread out,” Natalie said. “But there we were together all the time.”
Kathryn Hall said she asked the girls regularly if there was any doubt, any doubt at all, that they were doing the right thing. They still were enthused in April 2014 when Annie Moses resumed its recording and performing schedule and the Halls came back home.
“It was time for them to get back to their own careers,” Jessica Hall said.
And it was time for The Hall Sisters to step out on their own.
Jessica Hall said it has been a challenging road. The girls grew up singing without microphones and had to adjust. They had to learn to present themselves on stage. They had to build a repertoire of lyrics, music and harmonies. Jessica wrote many of the arrangements to accentuate the sisters’ sound.
They have grown as musicians and singers.
“There is a really big difference from where we were a couple of years ago,” Jessica Hall said. “We are much more comfortable on stage. We feel a lot more confident.”
It was nerve wracking, she said, the first time they played at the Grand Ole Opry,
“It was like an out of body experience,” Jessica Hall said. “I didn’t think it was really happening. You walk onto the stage where all those great artists have performed and you are supposed to make music. It was an unreal experience.”
One of the first things the girls did when they returned home was volunteer to provide the music for War At Your Door, an original musical about events that happened in Southern Wake County at the end of the Civil War.
Jessica Hall wrote new arrangements to traditional songs and the girls sang and played throughout.
“They are unbelievable,” said cast member Eddie Gray. “They were like angels over there singing.”
They have sung and played in area churches and at some events, but as their reputations have spread, so have their opportunities. A new CD is in the works and the timing seems good.
PBS is televising a special on sister singing groups such as The Lennons, The Andrews, The Kings and The McGuires.
The Halls spend hours listening the harmonies of the past and they love the music of the 1940s.
“The Hall Sisters have those beautiful harmonies,” Wolaver said. “They are a joy to listen to.”
The sisters don’t know where their musical path will lead, but at the moment they are enjoying the journey.
The Hall Sisters
When: June 12, 7 p.m.
Where: Aversboro Road Baptist Church, 1600 Aversboro Road, Garner. 919-779-0434
Admission: Free. An offering will be accepted.