Sophomore Soraya Sullivan and her eighth grade sister, Luciya Sullivan, are putting their own twist on traditional folk songs by releasing an album with their own flair.
The sisters were raised by two musicians for parents in North Carolina, causing them to take a liking to bluegrass and country music, a genre that is especially popular in the state. Both sisters delved into the genre and were inspired to pick up instruments associated with bluegrass music. Eventually, they started to play at many small venues, with Soraya playing guitar, Luciya playing banjo and both singing.
Now, Soraya and Luciya are playing at bigger venues, with their most recent live show being on the ‘Banjo After Dark’ series in Chicago as the featured act. With both sisters continuing to push themselves to further their musicianship, they decided to challenge themselves more by creating an album.
“We’ve been hoping to [make an album] for a while, because we’ve been hoping to get around to it for a long time, and we felt like we were finally getting to the level where [this album] would help push us further,” Soraya says.
To make the recording process possible, the sisters were able to work with and were guided by a music producer who they had met at one of their live shows, while the sisters’ mother booked the studio for them to record their album.
While there is no album name yet, the sisters plan to have around 12 tracks on the album, consisting of covers of traditional bluegrass instrumentals, covers of newer and Americana music, as well as their own arrangements of traditional bluegrass music.
“We’ll take a traditional song and then figure out how we can put our own spin on it,” Sullivan explains. “Whether that’s changing the key or doing instrumental harmonies, we just figure out what we can do to these traditional songs that a lot of people don’t know about to make them more interesting and our own.”
In addition to changing the key and making various stylistic changes to these traditional songs, Sullivan also reveals that her favorite track on the album will be blending two songs rather than only focusing on one song.
“We took the songs ‘Reuben’s Train’ and ‘Ruby,’ and we’re making a medley of the two,” Sullivan says. “We’ve had so much fun arranging it and figuring out different tunings to mess around with, so it’s going to be really fun.”
The album will be released and available to listen to on all the major music streaming platforms by the end of the year, and although the recording process is not finished, the Sullivan Sisters are already thinking about what they want to achieve with music after this album.
“We’re hoping to use this album as an opportunity to push our careers further and to start performing at larger venues to get our music out to more people,” Sullivan says. “We’re just going to keep creating.”