Two years ago, a trio of local sisters took their karaoke tape to Morristown on a hot July afternoon and performed a song together on the side stage between the marquee acts at Jamboree in the Hills.
Since that day the Joseph Sisters careers have taken off and the Wheeling based group has very quickly graduated to the main stage at Jambo where they will perform as featured artists this July.
The sister act has been performing together for fifteen years but had not combined their voices officially until 2007. Since their professional debut three years ago the country/soul singing group has been steadily gaining fans and achieving career goals.
The Joseph Sisters are, left to right, Marybeth, Jamie, and Shalyn.
"We are so very excited and honored to have the opportunity to perform for our fans at Jamboree in the Hills," said Marybeth, who is the oldest, followed by Jamie, and then Shalyn who just graduated high school in 2009. "We would never have made it this far without the love and support of our family, the local community and of course our fans."
Marybeth said the first opportunity to showcase her talents was when she was asked as a first grader to sing with Kenny Rogers when his Christmas show came to Wheeling. At seven years old, Marybeth opened the second half of Kenny's show.
"It seems like we have always been performing for relatives in school and church," middle sister Jamie added. Jamie is billed as the "small but mighty" sister who keeps the group rocking.
Jamie started singing along with her sister and soon was performing solo in churches and school plays. "When we were younger, Marybeth and I would sing together, but when Shalyn 'the baby' came along, that's when the harmonies came to life."
By the time Shalyn was 10, the girls had been performing as regulars at church and schools and several fairs in the area showcasing their rich harmonies. The girls are all students of Ohio County schools, and were all members of the Young Patriots, an elite group in Wheeling Park's choral program. Jamie and Marybeth were also members of Fairmont University's choir.
"I think our first official public appearance as the Joseph Sisters was in 2007 when we sang a Sugarland song," said Shalyn. She explained that the girls' father Tom Joseph worked with J.R. Wright leader of the local "State of Mind Band" and through that connection the girls began singing along to karaoke tapes during breaks at his band's performances. In 2010, the girls joined up with the band, launching their professional careers.
"We kind of just morphed into singing with the band, but they are awesome," Shalyn added. "We just love performing with a live band and now we can never go back."
In July of 2011, they met up with Gus Monezis, former manager of Wild Cherry and B.E. Taylor. He introduced them to some original songs, and they agreed Gus and their father Tom would co-manage the girls. But it will essentially remain a family run business, with mother Patty also helping with public relations, costumes, Facebook and being a road manager for her three young and beautiful daughters.
In August of 2012, the Joseph Sisters traveled to Nashville to meet with representatives of the recording industry and perform at a showcase. The trio were well received and soon hired Rick Witkowski from Studio L, and began to record original songs for their first album at his studio in Nashville under the guidance of producer Ford Thurston.
"It is a surreal experience to be in Nashville and performing," said Jamie who is the group's onstage leader. "It is true what they say, everybody plays, everybody sings. It was a little intimidating."
"I mean you just walk down the street and you see celebrities," Shalyn agreed. "It was really cool. We saw Toby Keith shooting a video."
"We toured the Grand Ole Opry and when we were inside we began to cry," Marybeth admitted. "We are so very proud of our heritage."
Coming from Wheeling, home of the WWVA Jamboree is a great source of pride and the fans in the valley are a great source of inspiration. "We are working very hard to put together our first CD for our fans."
"We have had the opportunity to work with song writer Mallory Hope," Marybeth revealed. "The song we are recording for our first album is written by her and titled 'I Belong to You'."
The song is a poignant tale of a young wife who is spending the last night together with her husband in the military before being deployed overseas.
"We fell in love with the song as soon as we heard it," Marybeth added. "It is a great love song and we think it is also a beautiful tribute to our veterans and their families who make so many sacrifices to protect our freedoms."
The experience of working with Mallory was inspiring and Marybeth quickly picked up her pen and guitar and began writing original songs.
Their lively stage performance and spine tingling harmonies are fast becoming the talk of the valley and they invite everyone to come out to Jamboree in the Hills Saturday July, 20 and continue supporting them.
They have graduated to the main stage but remain in the ranks of the thousands of young talented artists hoping for their break. Until then, they will continue with their day jobs to support themselves. Marybeth is working in customer service at a retail store, Jamie is a waitress for a restaurant chain and Shalyn is cutting hair at a shop in Wintersville.
"We thank our parents for all of their love, help and support and for our work ethic," Marybeth said. "They have been a big influence in our lives."
"This has been a dream of ours since we were little kids and we are dedicated to working hard to make that dream come true," added Jamie. "It is very encouraging to have the support of all our fans here in the valley."
"This is a huge commitment," said Shalyn. "But we have an opportunity to achieve our dreams; and best of all we get to do it together."
Also scheduled to perform on Saturday are Toby Keith. Trace Adkins, Kip Moore, The Henningsens, Chris Janson, Jason Thomas, Joe Zelek & The Rust Belt Kings, Ruff Creek, Hillbilly Way, Raven Cliff and Ron Retzer 1170.
Other area performances for the Joseph Sisters are: June 14, Moundsville Riverfront Park, 7 p.m., Jun 15. Mountaineer Casino, 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., Jun 18, St. Clairsville Football Stadium, 7-9 p.m., Jun 30. Harding Stadium, 5:30 p.m., Jun 4, Chester 4th of July Celebration. July 12, Follansbee Community Days, 6:30 p.m. July 24, Wheeling Waterfront Wednesdays, Heritage Port Amphitheater, and 7 p.m. -9 p.m. July 28, Seven Springs Rib Cookoff.
Palmer can be reached at mpalmer@timesleader online.com