An Exclusive Interview with The Everley Sisters (Oct 15 at Sweet Moses)

October 10, 2016

We are excited to present a boogie-woogie retro event featuring The Everley Sisters, a three-part harmony group that performs in the style of the beloved 1940s trio The Andrews Sisters. The free October 15 performance will feature three 45-minute shows at 1, 2 and 3 p.m. Customers are encouraged to dress in their favorite 40s vintage gear.      

“When I saw the Everley Sisters sitting at the soda fountain one afternoon, I felt like I walked on to the set of a 1940s movie,” Sweet Moses founder Jeff Moreau says about The Everley Sisters’ recent visit to the shop. “Having them sing here is sure to add a fun, new dimension to the Sweet Moses experience.”

We recently caught up with Rachel Brown, who portrays Lillian Everley of The Everley Sisters, to talk about the upcoming event (their first show in Cleveland), how the group gets their hair and makeup so 1940s perfect, and her favorite Sweet Moses ice cream sundae.

The Everley Sisters comprise two real-life sisters, you and Christina, and childhood best friend Deborah Bates. How did the three of you meet and become The Everley Sisters?

“We've known each other since birth and we've grown up going to the same church. We started singing together as kids, just for the fun of it. We'd sing in church services or go with a home school or church group to local nursing homes and such. The Everley Sisters started in 2014. Our church does a Christmas play every year and Deborah, Christina, and I co-wrote it together that year. It took place at a Radio Station in the 1940s. We were thinking ‘What's quintessential 1940's radio?’ We decided we had to have a commercial spot with an announcer and a trio of girls singing a snappy tune with lyrics for the products. In another scene the "Christmas Eve Broadcast," we sang a verse of I'll Be Home For Christmas and The Everley Sisters was born.”

What about the WWII-era inspires you?

“The culture, the music of course, and the fashion of the time. They're all so amazing, and while they have some similarities to today, it was a vastly different time in our country and the world, really. But mostly, it's the people. If you talk to any veteran of the war, any of the people that were kids that time, or the people fighting a very different war on the home front. We could all sit and listen to any one of them for hours. Their view on life in general is so different from what our view is today. They're true patriots. They've made sacrifices that we can't even begin to imagine. But they did it because they love this country and they knew it was their duty. It's a truly emotional and humbling experience to get to talk to or even perform for anyone of the members of ‘The Greatest Generation.’” 

Does the group have a favorite song to perform?

Glenn Miller's Moonlight Serenade. A lot of people are familiar with the tune, but they don't realize that there are lyrics to it. It's almost never sung and especially in three-part harmony. We decided to do it on a whim and wrote our own harmonies for it. It's one of our most requested numbers.”

The three of you are classically trained musicians. What specifically did you study?

“Deborah (Evelyn Everley) plays piano, Christina (Marjorie Rose Everley) plays guitar, and I (Lillian Everley), play violin. We used to do a lot of folk music together, too. Deborah taught herself to play penny whistle and concertina and I dabble in mandolin.” 

There are a lot of veterans who come out to your shows. Do the songs bring back memories? What has been the feedback?

“They're always telling us that they were transported. The songs just bring them alive and they get a big kick out of singing along. Sometimes they think we're actually The Andrews Sisters and they'll come up and say, ‘Remember me from this show or that,’ They've told us, ‘You remind me of my mom or my sister or my grandmother," or "You look like you stepped right out of my time." When we were in Illinois last week a veteran told us, "I saw The Andrews Sisters live and you gals sound just like them." That's just a huge compliment. Getting any approval from them is just a joy for us, because we're doing this for them. It's fun to perform for any audience. But at the end of the day, this is for the veterans, we're doing their songs.”

Where do you find inspiration for your hair and makeup? How long does it take to get ready for a performance?

“We've done a lot of research on the hair and makeup and we always ask questions when we have a chance to talk to the ladies who lived during that time. Makeup was something that wasn't always approved of in the 40s. Which is kind of funny, because they used to cake it on in the 20s by comparison. If you wore make up, you were expected to make it look natural. Light shadow on the eyes, usually brown. They almost never wore eyeliner, and when they did, it was for a very specific purpose. But one thing they didn't have to tone down was the lips. And so the red lipstick was really popular. They wore other shades, too. But red was really the go-to color because it was considered patriotic. 

Hair is a whole other story. The styles were just incredible and surprisingly complicated for women that did them on their own nearly every day. A lot goes into even starting a style. Most of us have to start the night before by sponge rolling, rag rolling, or pin curling. And then the next morning, you can start the ‘brush out with a specialized styling brush and figure out ‘What style is my hair willing to do today?’ It can take us anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 ½ hours to get ready for a show. Unfortunately, it's just not an exact science for us. Humidity is a huge factor. Some days we can get our hair to go right up like it's nothing and other days it's a fight...just like modern styles. 

We've looked at a lot of pictures from the time periods. There are whole styling books that tell you which direction you have to roll your hair for certain styles. Sometimes it's multiple directions! And there are actually quite a few good tutorials on YouTube. Lisa Freemont is our favorite to watch. Her videos are always a lot of help, but especially when we were first starting out and trying to learn out to do Victory Rolls.” 

Where do you shop for your vintage dresses and accessories?

“We use eBay and Etsy a lot. But there's also the thrill of the hunt. We like to go to thrift shops, yard sales and estate sales and see what we can find. Goodwill seems to be a hot spot for vintage. And there are some shops in the Columbus and Cleveland area like The Alley, Sweet Lorain and our favorite, Flower Child. We like to hit up the vendors at WWII events, too.”

Tell us how The Everley Sisters found out about Sweet Moses.

“Fellow WWII reenactor friends of ours that live in the Cleveland area told us about Sweet Moses. We were at a wedding and we had a couple of hours between the ceremony and the reception, so we decided to go and check it out. I had my first phosphate that day, Black Raspberry. It was amazing!” 

What’s your favorite item at Sweet Moses?

“Christina and I LOVE the Shoreway Sundae (with no almonds, but extra toffee pieces) and I think the whole menu is Debbie's favorite. She's a sweets addict.” 

What are the three of you most looking forward to at the October 15 show?

“I for one can't wait to get another Shoreway Sundae! But I think we're all looking forward to having fun with the crowd. It's so much fun to experience the different dynamics with different audiences. This is our first show in Cleveland and we couldn't be more thrilled that it's happening at Sweet Moses!” 

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